Masters Sailing

Shade tree view of the racing

I’m in Ottawa, hanging out at Brittania YC for the weekend. They’re hosting the ILCA Masters Canadian championship. ILCA is the new name for the original Laser dinghy.

I’m registered for the regatta, and sailed yesterday. Today I sat out the racing.

The idea for racing here came about recently. I haven’t sailed a Laser more than a couple of times since I had my jaw surgery 5 years ago, but up until then had been racing pretty regularly. Getting back at it has been a goal for a while.

I have enormous admiration for a few of the old guys that continue to be active in this fleet. Joe Van Rossem is in his early 80s and Jack Pearce is 79. Both are inspirational. We have an age handicapping system that puts competitors into ten year age groups. When I started in this fleet the old guys – 65 and older – were in the Great Grand Master category. As the fleet aged they created a new category – Legend – for over 75.

Sarah has been sailing my boat in Guelph and offered to buy it, so I found a somewhat newer boat recently for sale in Toronto and bought a replacement with the intent of carrying it aboard Escapade. I had been trying to get it out to NS to sail in a regatta there this weekend, but when that fell through along with other plans for next weekend I decided to head back to Ontario for a visit. Fellow laser sailor and Guelph neighbor Harri Palm was coming to this regatta, and was able to bring my boat to Ottawa and offer me a drive home afterwards.

Yesterday was a bit of a bust. I had a flight booked from Halifax to Ottawa on Thursday on discount airline Flair, and they canceled it early Thursday morning. The alternative direct flights quickly sold out and prices spiked. I ended up getting a full priced direct flight early Friday morning on a full AC turboprop flight. Then taxi to the regatta where it was sweltering hot and sunny with very little wind. I had all my boat bits, but was missing my race timer, and had left my sun hat and sun glasses on Escapade.

When we got on the water I suffered, and got a couple of near last place finishes. Bad starts, bad boat speed, and relentlessly light and sunny. Not enough water. I was ready to come in when they called it after 2 races.

I had asked Euan and Gill if we could stay on their boat at nearby Nepean, and it seemed an ideal crash pad. But with no A/C and stifling hot humid weather I ended up staying outside late trying to cool off. It wasn’t fun. So with more of the same forecast for today I gave myself permission to sit it out. Sat in the shade, drank lots of water, had a nice lunch and a shower at the club. I’m starting to get over the shock of Ontario summer and feel fit and fine this evening.

They got three races in today, and by all accounts it was brutal several competitors came in early. I’ll go back out tomorrow if there is racing, but the forecast is for continued calm, so it may be called early.

Looking forward to seeing family this week.

Shore Leave

I’m back in Bedford, and am flying to Ontario for ten days.  Will be back aboard Escapade at the end of the month.

I had a lot of fun in the last week.  Weather has been fabulous, and I’ve caught up with a bunch of old friends. It was also nice to have the opportunity to noodle around Mahone Bay.  I’ve now explored the coast pretty thoroughly between here and Lunenburg.  Looking forward to heading further down the coast in September.

The last four pictures are courtesy of Janice Ptak, who was aboard the Viking 28 sailed by old friends Charlene and Liz. That’s the boat I’m towing in an earlier picture.  They were having motor troubles so I played tug for a few days.

This picture scooped off Facebook shows us coming into Halifax Harbour yesterday. I was happy to have company for the trip back, and we had a good day on the mother ship.

Exposed Rudder

I ran over a rope in one of the coves close to Tantallon on Monday.  We were traveling parallel to the shore maybe 400 feet out and I noticed a line of buoys outside of us, then at the last moment saw that the line went all the way to shore.  It was very tight, and some of the floats directly in front of us may have been submerged.  We went across it at 90 degrees.

I reflexively did what I would have done in Mazurka when I realized the situation.  Cut the throttle and go into neutral.  In Mazurka I could go over lines and debris that way with relative impunity.

Escapade has an exposed spade rudder, and it’s a real vulnerability.  I knew that when I got the boat.  But I was reminded of that when the rudder hooked the line and we came to a stop.

I was pretty quickly able to determine from the swim platform that the line was clear of the prop.  I tried without success to push it down with a boat hook to clear the rudder, but there was a lot of tension on the line and regularly spaced floats.

Fortunately it was calm and fair.  After several minutes of study, Greg suggested we try the thrusters, and after a couple of attempts we managed to rotate our way free using the bow and stern thrusters. Greg operated them while I directed from the swim platform.

It’s got me thinking more defensively about the next part or my trip.  A knife taped to a boat hook could have easily and quickly extricated us from this situation, and if it were rough I’d go there pretty quickly.  But the prop is somewhat exposed as well.  I think I’m just going to have to be super observant and diligent in avoiding pots and lines and cross my fingers. 

My other takeaway is not to go into glide mode.  Had I assertively acted to stop the boat when I realized we were going to cross the line I could have avoided going across it.  In hindsight that’s what I should have done.  I need to work on that.

I should also note that driving this boat into narrow dead end coves and turning around in a boat length is a blast.  I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. The thrusters are my get out of jail free card, but the boat is extremely maneuverable with that rudder and broad flat section aft of the keel, and I can easily do a 180 in less than two boat lengths without thrusters. As with many things, it’s a compromise.


I’m anchored here in front harbour. Lovely spot, lots of boat traffic and the Bluenose and HMCS Oriole near by. A few of the classic designs out doing practice maneuvers.

The fog never really lifted today. It all feels familiar.

I’m going to shadow the racing for a day or two. I was ashore earlier and it was very quiet. Not like the Race Weeks that I remember from my youth. The Bluenose class looks like fun. The boats and rig have changed, with blade jibs and no spinnaker. They have a fleet of something like 25 racing this week.

Mahone Bay

View from Spudgel

I was in the Northwest Arm Saturday shopping for some boat stuff, and stayed there Saturday Night.

Greg came back aboard Sunday morning with his old friend Tom, and the three of us had a fun and relaxed cruise around to Tom’s home in Gen Margaret on the eastern shore of St Margaret’s Bay.  Marvelous trip, we went into every inlet along the way, and had benign conditions. 

I was pretty busy watching where we were going, but Tom was taking some pictures.  These are his.

Saturday night we were on a mooring in front of Tom’s place.  Very nice property.  I was happy to hang on Tom’s deck listening to Tom and Greg make music into the wee hours.

Today Greg and I followed the shoreline counter clockwise around St Margaret’s Bay, exploring all the inlets.  We came around the end of the Aspotogan Penninsula into Mahone Bay, took a little side trip into Deep Cove, then out to anchor off Little Tancook Island in front of a home owned by Fred and Moira, other friends of Greg.

I’m back aboard now after a relaxed and fun dinner ashore at their place.  Greg is sleeping in Spudgel, a delightful outbuilding on the shoreline.

I have to say my plan of closely following the shoreline has been fabulously successful and interesting.  I’ve done this trip countless times, but always in a sailboat and always well off the shoreline.  Much of the water we covered in the last two days was new to me. 

I don’t have much on my agenda for the next few days.  Chester Race week starts Wednesday, and I’ll take that in, then have a few days of visits and visitors booked for next week in the area.  Weather looks benign through the week.  Good motor cruiser weather. 

Toronto – Halifax Summary

I filled up with fuel and water and pumped out at Dartmouth Yacht Club today.  Nice facility.

Some numbers on my trip from Toronto – Halifax:

  • Start date May 20
  • End date July 29
  • Distance: 2,090 nautical miles, 3,870 km
  • Engine hours: 322
  • Fuel used: 2,074 l, 548 us gal

I need to correct earlier posts on fuel economy, which were based on the instrument reported consumption.  I thought they were awfully good.  I started to catch on to the discrepancy after getting going this spring.  Based on my observations the instrumented fuel consumption is only about 75% of actual burn. 

I’ve been loligagging around Halifax and Bedford for a week catching up with old friends and tidying up a bit.  Escapade has some admirers here.  I think the heritage is appreciated. 

This weekend I’ll head out the harbour and turn right.  The south shore beckons.  I’m not sure where or when my next extended stop will be.  My plan is to hop to the US from southwestern NS, but that depends on the border opening to visitors.  In any case I’m excited to be heading down the shore.