Although we’ve both sailed before, we decided that we needed a bit more experience to sail confidently along the coast, so we looked into taking the American Sailing Association (ASA) Beginning Coastal Cruising class. To do this we had to take the prerequisite – Basic Keelboat. We did some research and settled on the Delta Sailing School located in…the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the second link is to a post in my other mostly defunct blog, Chimaera Contemplations – which includes a photo of the now infamous Oroville Dam, which will never look like that again).
The class was two adjacent weekends, and a half hour closer from Scat than Placerville, so we left after work on Friday and drove down to the Vallejo Marina. We had to get up bright and early the next morning and head into the Delta. The farther into the Delta we got, the worse the roads got and we eventually turned onto one that was mostly patches and potholes. At the end of it, we drove up onto the levee holding back the waters from Seven Mile Slough and the San Joaquin River. The school turned out to be a tiny floating one-room schoolhouse in a slip in a marina. It was the perfect size for an instructor and four students. There we met George and Tomás, the other students, and Alan the owner/instructor.
After an hour or so of instruction, we went out and started getting acquainted with Hog Wild, the Capri 22 that we would be sailing for the next two weekends. Bob and I kept being distracted by the huge flocks of snow and Ross geese and smaller flocks of brant and Canada geese that were noisily landing and taking off from Twitchell Island across the slough. We practiced motoring and docking the boat until lunch. After lunch, we motored out of Seven Mile Slough and hoisted the sails. It was a fairly windy day, and we had quite a bit of fun zipping around in the San Joaquin River.
The next day we arrived to gusty winds and torrential rain. We held off sailing and spent the morning in the classroom. The wind and rain died down by the afternoon, so we went out to practice more spirited sailing. George tried to kill us all weekend – he kept narrowly avoiding accidental jibes because he would turn the tiller the wrong way, and at one point he had Hog Wild’s rail so far under the water that Alan’s seat got soaked.
The next weekend was the complete opposite. Light winds, sunny and warm. For much of the weekend we floated around carried more by the current than by the wind. We did occasionally have enough wind to practice man overboard drills. If you ever come sailing with us and fall overboard, stay calm and don’t worry as the boat sails away into the distance. We will come around and get you eventually. Probably…
One of the other things we learned is that Bob is a knot savant. Actually, I think Bob already knew this. Being an ex-Girl Scout, I was also fairly familiar with knots, so we were both able to help the less knot-savvy Tomás and George. Among the many other things we went over in class were navigational rules, navigational aids, and points of sail. All in all it was a very informative and fun class! We’re really looking forward to the Basic Coastal Cruising class in May!