Welcome to Yachting Girls

Welcome to a blog where the adventures of a team of crazy women who are mad about sailing can be shared.
We are living in the beautiful Huon Valley in Tasmania, surrounded by outstanding sailing waters.  In June 2007 my husband and I purchased a Columbia 27 cruising yacht.  My husband crews in a Top Hat 24 in the races held by the Port Cygnet Sailing Club so our yacht was going to sit idle for most of the sailing season.  A great idea came to us - lets have an all women crew and take on the men!

Follow our adventures...share our laughs...cheer us on...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Twilight 8 - The end of the Series

The evening started well with lots of enthusiasm and passion. The secret weapon - a home made extending whisker pole ( for holding out the Jib when running down wind) was considered by the sailing competition to be a great addition.  With only Cap'n Tank and "Overboard" as crew we knew it would be harder to manage the large jib. The winds were favorable however,  so the task was not as hard as it could have been.  We had another poor start... not anyone's fault - just a lot of traffic. With 18 yachts out on the water it was difficult to keep close to the start line. Once we were across the start line we elected to go on the opposite tack to most of the other yachts. This paid off and we soon closed the gap. However, Cap'n Stan was still ahead of us at the first mark. We know that to pass Wyvern was the goal and would be a good indicator of our ultimate placing.  At the second mark we were able to put in a fast and tight tack passing two yachts including Wyvern. The rest of the race was just great. We were challenged after the third mark but held off Wyvern and was able to extend our lead on the run down wind. The race was really enjoyable. I have really found taking the helm to be exciting, challenging but also very satisfying. I am getting the feel for the yacht through the tiller and am gaining a great deal of confidence.

So what was the result?  Well tonight we came 2nd again. This is the 5th time we have been second but it gave us an edge over the nearest rivals so we actually WON the whole series with the best aggregate results on handicap.

Once ashore we had a lovely meal at the Clubhouse and were warmly congratulated by all when our success was announced. It is really nice to feel that we have earned the respect of the men in the club.
So the twilight racing is now over. The next challenge is the Ladies race in two weeks. We will not be using Pathfinder. I have been asked to helm Wyvern. I have no crew for Pathfinder but still have a chance to get out there and enjoy.
'Til the next time...good sailing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Twilight 7

What can one say but WOW! We had a great sail this evening. The wind was again very variable with some gusts up to 9 knots. Although our start was slow we soon made up ground on the rest of the fleet. After the first mark we were able to pass Wyvern at the buoy.  The winds really suited Pathfinder and we were able to run downwind well, closing the gap on a number of other yachts. It was tight around the next mark with a visiting yacht giving us buoy room.  The winds really suited the lighter weight boats but we were able to keep within striking distance.  The crew worked efficiently and with enthusiasm and Cap'n Tank was up to his usual standard of great coaching. A relatively easy sail was much appreciated by all and we anxiously awaited the results. With the top four yachts being close in the points score it was with great excitement that we learnt that we were once again second. This means that over the 7 races we have been 2nd 4 times, a 15th, a 9th and a 5th place. We can drop the two worst placings which thus gives us a total to date of 13 points. The next nearest yacht has 19 points!! Double WOW. And only one more race to go! It is important that we do not count our chickens before they hatch but we have a good chance of being in the top placings.
So until next time.... Fair winds and happy sailing.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Twilight 6

This week's race Twilight Race was another interesting evening on the water.  The weather was cold and wet with just a gentle breeze at the start.  The crew this week was "CC" and the "Brisbane Bather" - "Overboard" was not available. Cap'n Tank was aboard again as coach and tactician. The fickle winds of fate made the sail an interesting test of tactical skill and patience. It was another great opportunity for learning. Pathfinder went really well and I am beginning to get a feel for the helm. When she is in the groove Pathfinder is a real pleasure to sail.

There were some very quiet moments when almost no movement with the wind was possible.  The tide was about all that kept the yachts moving.  There were moments when almost no action was happening. We managed to pass a number of yachts which, when one considers the lightness of the wind, was a miracle.    The racing urge was still there even though the wind was almost non-existent.  Toward the end of the race a number of boats decided to pull out because it was starting to get dark. We decided to finish the race because we were really not far off finishing anyway. It was a wise decision as the wind came up and we finished the race in style.

We had resigned ourselves to finishing well down the placings but were surprised and overjoyed to find we had come in second on handicap again. This puts us in equal first.........Pressure!!!!  And we now only have two races to go.

The crew will be "CC" and "Overboard" again next week as the "Brisbane Bather" has to return to the north.  We are having so much fun...and she will miss the finish. :{
The team works well together and all seem to be really enjoying the challenge.  The men we compete against are also very supportive and when placings were announced there was a cheer from the girls which was taken up by the guys too.

What will next week bring?  'Til then ... happy sailing and fair winds.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twilight Race 5

This week's Twilight race was so frustrating. After a small but steady breeze just before the start, we found ourselves struggling in very light air for the rest of the evening. A new crew member - the "Brisbane Bather" (named as a result of an unfortunate and unexpected dunking in Port Cygnet Bay) - had a perfect training day on the water. Coming 15th did little to cheers us up, but we did have a great tussle with Cap'n Stan on Wyvern. The lead between the two yachts changed a number of times and, fortunately, the girls under the close tutelage of Cap'n Tank, were able to catch the last little bit of breeze and make it over the finish line a minute ahead.
It is interesting just how tiring it can be sailing on a calm day. So many changes of sail settings and constantly adjusting the angle of the yacht to the winds as well as the concentration needed to keep focussed and ahead of Wyvern made for a very tiring evening. Coming in to the clubhouse later than most other people also meant cold steaks off the BBQ and cold potatoes! Mmmm.....next week we must do much better. Cold food is not much fun!

Cap'n Tank was as exited at beating Wyvern over the line as he would have been if we had won the race. Even with such a poor placing we are still well up in the seasons ranking so cannot be ashamed.  This learning to sail stuff is FUN!

Hopefully we will be able to improve next week (our handicap will go back to being a little better as a result of this week's poor placing) and keep up in the rankings.

Only three more races to go......................................:{

'Til the next time - sail well!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Twilight Sailing 2012

After many months of inactivity we have finally been racing in the 2012 Twilight season. With a new coach "Cap'n Tank" and a new crew "Overboard" and "CC",  I have finally been on the helm full time. We have had a great season to date. After 4 races we have had a 9th place, two 2nd places and a 5th which puts us pretty close to the lead over the season to date. We have been blessed with near perfect sailing conditions up until tonight when we were subjected to 15-20 knot winds and choppy waves. "Overboard" and I managed to put a reef in the main sail for the first time ever which was not easy to do when the yacht was heeled at 40 degrees. On reflection it probably would had been better to have rolled in a little of the giant genoa on the furler and left the main sail at full size. I needed to battle constantly with Pathfinder's tiller to keep her from turning up into the wind. A couple of times this was unavoidable as she just did not respond to the helm. This usually occurs in strong winds and when the yacht is over powered.  I have tired shoulders from fighting the tiller!  The girls worked well as a team and Cap'n Tank is a gem. He gives great support and confidence. He is always there to solve a problem or advise and is a great tactician. We have done far better this season and it has been really satisfying knowing that I can manage the yacht myself.  I was so reluctant, in past seasons, to helm the start of the race but with guidance it is now far less of a challenge.  
I really appreciate having two girls on board who are confident and knowledgeable as well as great fun. We still do not take it too seriously - but  the girls and Cap'n Tank agree that it is really enjoyable and low key - great team work and a good atmosphere on board.
Til next time - great sailing and kind winds to you all.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Cruise - Pathfinder sails again!

It was with enormous excitement and not without some trepidation that we set off on Good Friday to sail Pathfinder out into the beautiful waters of the D'entrecasteaux Channel, south East of our home base at Cygnet. This was our first opportunity to go cruising on her since her purchase in mid 2007. Teamed up with two other yachts manned by friends, we headed South East and across the Channel to an anchorage called the The Quarries. A sheltered bay protected from the Southerly winds we were able to settle down for two relaxing and totally enjoyable days reading fishing and socialising with friends. Pathfinder went well although the very light winds meant we had to motor and sail. We found the boat comfortable to live in and the modifications made when we were fixing the mast worked well. We have some issues with the electrical systems which will need to be addressed fairly urgently. The fuses kept blowing which controlled the navigation lights which was an issue. Fortunately we were at anchor deep in the bays at night surrounded by other yachts, all with anchor lights gleaming. We had torches to read by as the cabin lighting was also defective. This was all checked out two weeks previously and found to be fine so what the issue is will need to be explored. After two nights at the quarries we sailed further south to a very picturesque bay called Mickey's. This was like something out of a magazine. Tree lines shores, white sandy beaches, great fishing - everything one could wish for. The company was great and the yacht performed well. Easter Monday saw us all go our different ways. My 'significant other' needed to be back home to start the apple harvest by Tuesday so mid-morning we set off sailing home with a steady 4 knot wind from the south behind us. It was a long days sail with Pathfinder reaching almost 5.5 knots on the last leg but mostly sitting on around 3-4 knots. This was the longest sail we had taken the yacht on together and without additional company so it was a really good test for us. We had to navigate ourselves home without guidance from others. For novice sailors this was a challenge but one which we achieved with few hassles. It was such a great confidence booster to know that we were able to navigate ourselves back to the mooring with ease. The sail took all day but it was full of pleasures. Two seals, basking in the sun on the surface had quite a surprise when Pathfinder snuck up on them! The winds were also favourable, if a little light.

Packing up the boat, loading all the gear into the car was quickly achieved and we sadly had to return home. Plans are being made to put some work into finishing off the paint work, fixing the lights and installing the new aerial for the VHF radio over the next weekend with the possibility of another trip away before the winter sets in and makes conditions unpleasant. I plan to also have some fishing lessons with a friend. Although I caught more fish than I ever had before, I was reluctant to kill and clean them - what would we do if that is all we had to live on I do not know! The lucky finned friends were thrown back much to the disgust of the people who came with us. Still ... next time maybe! 'Til the next time - good sailing to you all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mast raising on Pathfinder - February 2010

Pathfinder is Sailing again!

It was an enormous thrill to be able to take Pathfinder out on her first sail in 7 months last weekend. The Challenge Cup gave me the opportunity to test sail her with the repaired mast and re-rigging complete. A worthy Old Salt who had never sailed her before came aboard to take the helm. With no intentions other than to have a great relaxing day we were able to make the 5 hour trip to Port Huon and back in relative comfort and with much better ability to sail into the wind and to sail effectively on port tack than ever before. The usual fickle wind conditions both helped and hindered us. For most of the early part of the race we were well up with all the other boats. We did, however, become becalmed in shore when all the others went out wide and sailed on. Once in the main river we were able to make up some distance on the rest, only to become becalmed again up near the final turning buoy. A strong beat to windward on the return journey, when a stiff sea breeze blew up helped but we were still too far behind to make up much. We finished 15th out of 18 boats and considering the conditions we were happy. The men of the club were again very supportive and encouraging so there is a good chance I will get the opportunity to take her out again before the sailing season draws to a close.