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...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lightning series 1

What a fantastic event! Three short races in quick succession and on a great day. Again I was fortunate to sail on Wyvern with the boys. There was a 25-30 knot wind and quite a strong swell in the bay. The wind was ideal for Wyvern that performs best in strong wind conditions. We had two really great starts and one that was a little disappointing.  But each race was exhilarating and very competitive.  
There were nine yachts in each race with 4 of the Junior Pacer Dinghy fleet also joining in for Race 1. All yachts were closely packed at all of  the starts and there was some very tight tacks around the marks.  The two Etchell class yachts that competed had some good duals with some solid spinnaker work downwind.  The two Solings were a little less competitive but considering the crews were both getting to know new yachts it was not surprising. Wyvern was well placed at every mark with excellent strategic tacking.  When all yachts had crossed the finish line the tacking and angling for a good place on the starting line began.  All of the cruising yachts were close on all legs and with many close shaves when tacking.  At the end of the races the results were compiled with Wyvern winning Race 1 & 2 and coming second in Race 3 and thus winning the series. 
I had a ball - but unfortunately did not get to do a great deal.  I did manage the jib sheets when we had the sails "goose-winged", but was also valuable ballast on the reaching legs.
It was a fun sail and the great competition between yachts was enjoyed by all.  
We will see what next week brings. 'Til then...good winds and gentle seas.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday sailing - the highs and lows!

It was disappointing that we missed the last of the Spring Series. through a lack of a competent helmsman being available. My number one helmsman was not down at Cygnet for the day and number two had eye surgery so it was a landlubber I be. Sad. Still this week I was able to crew for on Wyvern with the significant male and the Cap'n. This was one of those days when one wonders why we actually love sailing. The Cap'n loved it but for the first time I was feeling decidedly queezy.  Seasickness ! what me ? Never! Ha Ha. 
The weekend started poorly weather wise with strong winds, rain and snow on the mountains - lots of snow. For the non-Australian followers of this blog - if there are any - this is supposed to be early summer! It was bitterly cold and damp on Sunday and I thought it was an ideal opportunity to test out the new wet weather gear I had given myself for my birthday last month.  Rugged up with the full sailing suit and life jacket I was a good imitation of the Michelin man but for all that I was warm and dry. The race started at Cygnet and was to travel down the bay, into the Huon River estuary and out into the D'entrecasteaux Channel and into Esperance Bay. (See map) The three islands in the bay (Faith, Hope and Charity) had to be circumnavigated and left to starboard. The winds started light and thinking I would distribute my weight more evenly on board and keep out of the biting wind I would stand in the hatch way amidships. This worked a treat until we got blasted by a 30-35 knot wind straight of the mountains! Brrrr. Into the cabin this chicken hearted sailer disappeared. Hitting the 4-6 metre swell as we entered the Channel was not a pleasant experience. The yacht pounding through these waves threw me around a lot. Why did I ever shelter below? It was too difficult to return topside until we actually got into the shelter of the bay. Tossing around in high winds and a strong swell makes one certainly wonder why we were out there.  

Once around the islands and out of the bay were pounded our way back to the estuary and home but with a following sea the motion changes to more of a corkscrewing one. Still not fun but up on deck in my usual spot at the back of the yacht it was more tolerable.  It was a five hour sail and we were pleased to find many of the other competitors were still at the club house when we got back. We were starving.  The roughness of the journey making eating difficult and probably unwise. Fortunately I was by that stage feeling much better so a quick snack and the results were ready. We made it in fourth place with four yachts retiring before the race was half over and five finishing. There was only 6 minutes between first and second and barely a minute between each of the subsequent yachts so over such a distance it was great racing.  If we had not finally got nearly becalmed as the afternoon saw a great decrease in the wind, we may have done much better. Still a good effort considering the conditions.  I was pleased to find that I was not the only one to have seasickness problems with one of the guys on Soubrette really having a hard time of it.  He had to go below to patch a window that had got smashed by the waves and to bail the water out.  Being below played havoc with his stomach and unfortunately he lost his breakfast - which I fortunately did not. One of the women aboard the J26 Cio Cio San was also in a pretty bad way. We could all have a laugh about it afterwards thank goodness and as my significant other said - we finished! We did not give up and we made it safely to the end.  
Next week is a lightening series with three short races in quick succession. I hope to get a helmsman who will be willing to take me out on Pathfinder for some fun.  'Til the... good sailing

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spring Race 3

An opportunity to sail again today was much appreciated.  Keith agreed to helm as Jim was unavailable and a new sailor Gerain, who has barely ever handled a sail sheet, was promised a ride by my significant other!  Keen, enthusiastic and willing he was given an opportunity to tackle some quite blustery conditions.  Keith has never helmed Pathfinder or in a race,  however we gave it our best.  A stiff sea breeze saw us tacking furiously to windward to the furthest mark on the bay.  It gave us plenty of practice at tacking and really showed how poorly the yacht sails to windward. She certainly does not point well. Keith found it a challenge to get the best from her.  Reaching and running before the wind was far better but we were not able to make up much of the ground lost through poor sail handling and the problems sailing to windward.  There were 16 yachts again in the race and we were 9th on Handicap so we are consistent. More practice is really needed and Gerain is keen to have another go. Keith and I hope Jim will be available and willing again next week.   I will try to get Gerain a sail with one of the more experienced crews so he gets a feel for racing in a range of boats. 'Till the next time - happy sailing...

Spring Race 2

It was fortunate that I was able to convince Jim, a 60 year sailing veteran to helm for me in this race.  With Keith - also a veteran sailor - we made a valiant effort in very light winds.  Jim had many new ideas and is  an enthusiastic sail tweeker! So many changes and modifications were undertaken but few made much difference.  We were able to keep up with the slower boats in the field but had little hope of overtaking anyone.  I am convinced that Pathfinder does not like light winds. Considering the yacht has a beautifully clean hull one would have thought she would have been so much faster!  Handicap results saw us placed 8th out of 16 yachts so that was not too bad.
The day was beautiful, the sail was fun and the companionship and knowledge sharing was irreplaceable.  'Til next time...