Categories
Travel

The Backpacking Through Travel to Bosnia

So what is the first thing you think about when you hear of Bosnia?

When I told my friends that I was planning a trip to Bosnia, they thought I was crazy. Unfortunately, when people think of Bosnia they still think of horrible images that they may have seen from the war that happened years ago. The truth is far from this stereotypical image that many people seem to have. I am convinced that Bosnia is one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

It is also much safer than many people tend to think. Unlike many other parts of western Europe that people generally don’t associate with crime (like Paris), I never felt unsafe when I was there (for more information about crimes in Europe you can read my article about personal safety in Europe or my article about common scams). If I would have listened to my friends, I would have probably missed what turned out to be one of my favorite places in Europe to travel.

What is there to see in Bosnia?

There is a TON to see and do throughout Bosnia from extreme sports such as white water rafting to exploring pyramids (yes that’s right pyramids!) and other historical sites. One of my favorite places in Bosnia in Sarajevo.

Here you can find everything from the bridge in which World War I was started to the oldest public bathroom in all of Europe. You can see the old tunnels where Bosnians took food and supplies in and out of the city, eat great Bosnian food in many great restaurants, or maybe relax drinking Turkish style coffee in a local cafe.

Myths

Landmines:

I once read somewhere that there were a lot of landmines in Bosnia. The truth is that I never saw any dangers of this type. I was told that landmines are ONLY found deep in the mountains where there are no people. So you really DON’T need to be worried about this.

War:

Bosnia is a safe peaceful place. War has been over in Bosnia for a long time now. It is safe to visit, and the people are wonderful. While you can clearly see the devastating effects that war has had (take a look at the number of graves you can see on the top photo), the country is starting to thrive again. Tourists and backpackers alike are rediscovering Bosnia’s beauty.

Truths:

Crime:

I was surprised to find that I did not encounter a whole lot of crime when I was anywhere in Bosnia. While like whenever traveling it is important that you are careful and watch your things closely, I have found that crime is a lot less prevalent than in many other places that people are not as afraid to travel to in Western Europe.

People:

Bosnian people are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. The people I met are anxious t0 show about their history and way of life and love to talk to you (even about such sensitive topics regarding politics). Personally, I was lucky to have met my friend Irfan who showed me around the city and told me much about the Bosnian way of life.

Pyramids:

Yes, you heard me right, PYRAMIDS! Bosnians are showing even more hope for a brighter future after a recent discovery that some historians believe will change history. Recently they found objects that many believe to be the first pyramids ever found in Europe (of course there is still some dispute about this)! The man that discovered them claims that they are as old as or older than the ones in Egypt and HUGE. For more information about the pyramids, you can read a National Geographic news article.

How to get around:

Generally, when you travel throughout Bosnia (unlike the rest of Europe) people use buses instead of trains. Bus and train tickets are much cheaper than in Western Europe. You don’t have to book too far in advance to get tickets. Rail Passes won’t work in Bosnia because they are not yet part of the European Union. (*I stand corrected… you can now use your rail pass in Bosnia… thank you 🙂

Whenever I travel, my best experiences have always been when I meet someone who lives in the area to show me around.

Categories
Travel

You Should Know All About When You Traveling Alone

Its 5:00 ARE and I am excited. Once again I cannot sleep; the only difference about this time is that the normal slight feeling of fear from traveling alone that I am used to is replaced with sheer excitement. The truth is (as I have later learned) that most people are terrified of traveling alone and the reasons make sense.

In fact, it is probably well more normal to have that slight bit of nervousness than to not feel it, especially if you are traveling alone. If you have read my other posts by now you are probably aware that most of the traveling I do is by me. One of the common questions that I am asked by people is in regards to traveling (or backpacking) alone, why I choose to travel this way, and questions about safety.

The true reason I started to travel alone was simple because I had nobody to travel with. From somebody who often gets lost coming home from places in my hometown, the idea was very scary later though this decision turned out to be one of my best decisions.

Is it lonely?

Sometimes the good news is you are NEVER alone. When you travel alone it can be extremely easy to meet people. In fact, it seems as if it is easier to meet people when you travel alone then when you travel with someone else. You force yourself to talk to people. If you stay at youth hostels it becomes very easy to join other groups of people and make new friends.

When you travel with the same group of people it becomes very easy to get caught up in a bubble where you avoid things outside of the bubble. I would not have had to contact many of the good friends I have met when traveling if I was with someone else because I would simply spend the time talking to my friend.

Is it safe?

This is a more difficult question to answer. Safety is always a concern when traveling anywhere (you can read my article about Safety in Europe, or about common traveling scams. Of course, as with going anywhere by you, traveling alone creates additional risks. Personally, I find that I am much more aware of my surroundings when I am by myself as opposed to when traveling with a group.

That being said, this is coming from a 6ft 3-inch 200-pound man. It goes without saying that girls have different travel risks than guys if you are a girl it may be better for you to travel with someone. I have however met many women backpackers who travel alone and have had no problems with it.

Protect yourself:

Taking simple steps can make you a lot less of a target. Chances are if you are a target of crime in Europe, it will be a non violent crime. So your best bet is to watch your stuff closely. While it can save a lot of time and expenses, traveling at night also increases your risk of crime. Besides the obvious traveling at night increases the chance that you will be tired and not fully aware of your surroundings and makes it an easy target.

I have always been a fan of traveling alone. Some of my most memorable experiences have come from these trips. While there might be some additional risk, by being more observant you can safely travel by yourself.

Categories
Travel

The Joys of Being Scammed in South Africa Travel

All the places in South Africa are just wonderful, there are four separate climatic regions, close to each other, and all are enjoyable.  There is a variety of fauna, the scenery is generally spectacular.  It’s the most advanced country in Africa but, also suffers some of the same crime and corruption which arises in every country where the very rich lives side by side with a majority being very poor.

Traveling to South Africa, one has to take special precautions; first, your checked luggage should not contain anything you don’t want to lose.  The Johannesburg airport is notorious, my friends lost sneakers, computers (from the paid storage counter), and they even stole my toiletry kit so all electronics and valuables go in your hand luggage.

Second, exercise more caution than usual, don’t go out too far at night, unless you have to, or are in a gated, guarded community, and be very careful with your credit card, try not to let it out of our sight.  My Master card was copied and over good dollars was stolen from it.

Master card gracefully and painlessly took care of it, but I had taken the precaution of warning them that I was in the country, the dates I would arrive, and when I’d leave.  The theft occurred after I had departed.

I witnessed my first gunfight when thieves robbed a gas station across the street Interesting but not half as much fun as in the movies.

Finally, I was scammed in the biggest hotel in the country, the extremely luxurious Palace of the Lost City, at Sun City, the most impressive hotel complex I’ve ever seen!  Here’s how you get scammed at the Palace of the Lost City:

I was having a bit of trouble opening our hotel safe, and my wife, wanting to help, called up the front desk, who immediately offered to send security for a “battery check”.  As she hung up, I realized I was entering the wrong code, I had programmed myself, but security was already on their way.  A minute later, a well-dressed man, with the hotel logo on his lapel came in and insisted to check the safe “just in case”.

So he walked in with his electronic device, plugged it into the safe, and opened and closed it in front of me.  He then asked me to enter my code to make sure it worked, which I did in front of him. That was my mistake.

The same night, someone, came in while we were at the restaurant, stole all the area (which I had carefully counted before storing them), thankfully left the foreign currency and passports in place and left without a trace.

The next morning, we lodged a complaint with the hotel, the best security personnel showed up, they analyzed the safe’s computer and effectively, we saw that someone had opened the safe twice while we were gone and swiped all the rends. Of course, nothing ever came out of it, it was good and faces it, if you travel around the world, you are bound to lose a few bucks, iPods, glasses, cameras, toiletry kits, etc…

Yes, South Africa is a dangerous place but you know what?  I’d go back in a heartbeat, the majority of the people are great, the food is to die for, it’s an inexpensive place to visit, with superb service, and I’ve seen some of the richest places in my life, alongside some of the poorest.  But not to worry, I’ll be describing some of my experiences in South Africa in future posts.

Categories
Travel

The Best Conquering the Fear of Travel

Some people actually have a fear of travel.   I don’t mean fear of flying but fear of travel, to faraway countries, or to the next state.

Some of you will not understand and some will understand fully but there are people in the world who never ventured very far from home.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to but it may just be that they never had the chance and lack practice.

For example, one of my friends received an offer from Air Canada for two tickets anywhere in the world.  She chose to stay in Canada and go to Montreal!  She was just not very comfortable going to a place that may have been too different from home.

I can relate to a degree, on my first trip overseas, I brought my daughter to Rome (her choice for her graduation birthday).  On my first night, I was a nervous wreck!  I got to experience the 100 euro taxi ride, my hotel, chosen by an agent who didn’t know the city, was at the very last stop on the subway train, on the very edge of the city, in an industrial zone.  I found the people rude and uncaring (you just have to know the Italians, I love them now).  I was fully ready to stay in my room for the next two weeks!

But, that was a bit impractical, in the next few days, I found a really nice, cheap place to stay, right around Termini Station, the center of Rome, I got to find a train to Venice, found where I could get help, really good help for tourists, and I had a ball.

So, what’s the secret to overcoming your fear of travel?

How about you start close to home?  How many beautiful places near you, are you waiting to go to “because it’ll always be there”?  How about going somewhere, soon, where you’ve never, ever been, even if it’s only 20 miles from home?  Come on; work up that spirit of adventure!

Second, maybe you could do your first big trip with someone, or with a couple who’s already done it, double the fun.

Finally, you can avoid a lot of problems with proper, diligent preparation.  Read surf talk to people, use all the tools at your disposal to prepare for your trip.  (I’ll write about all this for you later, I use some great stuff).

Eventually, I can assure you that you get used to traveling to the point where you can land anywhere and really enjoy the place.  So go ahead and start planning that next adventure.

Categories
Travel

The Rome on Foot Walking and What’s With Las Vegas Airfares Travel

If you read my previous entries on arriving in Rome while traveling, you’ll have found a good hotel with, around Termini Station where you can have a great base to visit the city.

Here’s a tour of Rome that I’ve done several times and hope to do again, consult a map or Google Earth for the exact path.

Starting from Termini Station, it’s an easy walk to the Coliseum, no matter how many times I do it, I’m still amazed at the sights, on every street corner, especially arriving at the Coliseum.  You can visit the Coliseum right away, or keep it for another day.

Next to the Coliseum stand the ruins of the Forum of Rome, a series of temples, and meeting places of antiquity.  The ruins are still immensely impressive.

On your left, will be the Palatine Hills, where Nero and other emperors had their palace, a bit further is the famous Circus Maximus, where the famous horse races were held.  A tip here is that if you pay to visit the Coliseum, there often a free guided tour of the Palatine Hill or the Forum in the afternoon, very much worth it.

From the Coliseum, you can walk through the ruins of the Forum, which will lead you the Mussolini’s Palace.  An imposing marble building, built by, and for, the glory of the Duche!

Here, try to find the little walking streets which will lead you to the Trevi fountain, another baroque masterpiece, one of the most famous fountains in the world.  Close by, is the Pantheon, a marvel of engineering with its lightweight concrete dome and oculus, which lets in the light.

If you have the energy, it’s less than two kilometers the Vatican.  From there, a refreshing beverage at one of the various cafés and then hop on a bus which will bring you back to Termini in no time.

You don’t have to do all that the same day, although I’ve done it before if you only have a day (off a cruise ship for example), it’s the way to go.

More than once, I’ve wondered why it’s so cheap to fly to Las Vegas.  I’ve done this check often and I believe that these flights must be subsidized by the city, the casinos, or the airlines are losing money (ha-ha, just kidding).

For example, today I pick up my trusty I Pad, log onto my ITA Matrix App (I’ll tell you more about that in an upcoming post) and I’m looking for a flight from Charlottetown, Canada (east coast, Prince Edward Island, Canada, my home, the nicest place in the world) to Las Vegas (sin city) for a little week of fun sometime in March while traveling.

The best fare is leaving (return, taxes included) for Charlottetown-Montreal-Vancouver-Las Vegas, with Air Canada and Delta, a total of 7584 miles return, all in the same day, no overnight, good flights.

Oddly enough, the return fare for Charlottetown-Montreal alone on the same plane with Air Canada returns.  More for a distance of 1026 miles!  It’s cheaper to jump ship in Montreal on a Vegas flight! (But seriously, don’t do that, you’ll get in trouble)

Let me check the temperature in Montreal today… 13 degrees Fahrenheit (-10C), not bad, a bit frisky… now let me check Las Vegas… 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16C, night time)…  Bingo! That’s 48 more degrees, for less money!!!

I’ve checked this often and there are often deals for Las Vegas.  I found something like that for Hawaii once and there must be other destinations being promoted.  If you find some, please leave a comment and let us know.

Categories
Sailing

Sailing From Trogir on Bogerila Lead-brod

We meet in Trogir and board our sailboat. After purchasing food we go through some basics and customs of coexistence on board. We set sail at sunset towards Solta where we will hit the anchor, the chilling sailing.

After a morning coffee and breakfast at anchor, and a swim at the nearby shoals, we raise the anchor and sails and sail to the town of Vis, one of the most remote inhabited Croatian islands … a very lively place in summer. The bays that surround the island hide caves and coves with extremely clear sea, a spectacle for ‘snorkeling’.

We go to Scedro, a lonely island with a fishing hut in one sleeve, the right place to relax, away from everyday life, and a great place to take a break on the way to Korcula. It would be okay to have a fish dinner and hang out with the rest of the fleet team.

Hunting ground – turquoise bay before the entrance to the Korcula channel for lunch and swimming, and then under sail through the Korcula channel through the hordes of surfers who play in this channel known for its strong wind.

We arrive in Korcula, tie up on the waterfront, and get lost in the night of the old living town. Early start from Korcula and swimming on the island of Badija where fallow deer roam freely in the woods around the old monastery – a movement towards Hvar Crowd, chaos, law.

We go around Cape Peregrin (western point of Hvar) and sail around Cape Smoćiguzica (yes 🙂 to Bol, another pearl at the foot of Vidova Gora, the highest peak among all Adriatic islands, another kite / wind-surfing site with the famous Golden War. We land on a pier in the center of town with a view of the sunset over Hvar.

For those who like to stretch their hooves, a trip to the Black Desert, an experience worth sweating it’s a half-hour walk to a monastery built by some persistent hermits long ago and carved into the rocks, and in addition to the library and observatory, the boys continue to produce their wine in the traditional way (Bring a hat for the sun, tanks, and water with Some equipment.

We continue through the Split Gate and visit Milna and refuel Diesel. In the evening we are in the bay Necujam on the island of Solta where there is a great restaurant that rises like a stage with terraces above our anchorage, a great place to look back on everything we went through this week and celebrate the end of a unique journey.

Early in the morning, move towards our base, towards the ‘real’ showers on solid ground, but from that moment on you will be clearer with the famous saying: ‘You must sail’

Categories
Sailing

The Best Tips From the Sailing Captain

Line the bottom of your anchor locker with Dry-Tech or another brand of plastic decking in order to allow your rode to drain better. This will also make washing out your anchor locker much easier without removing the anchor and rode.

Cleaning Canvas & Sails

Supplies:
poly tarp (large enough to accommodate the sail/canvas)
deck brush with fairly soft bristles
regular Joy dish liquid or another mild sofa
garden hose
bucket

Get a poly tarp and spread it out on your lawn preferably on a slight slope. Mix soap in a bucket. Wet one surface of the fabric with the hose and gently scrub with the soapy mixture. Flip the fabric and wash the opposite side.

Rinse this side and flip again to rinse the other side. You can hang the fabric to dry from a second-story deck or it can be moved to a more steeply sloped area of your yard or of course you can hoist your sails. If you hang fabric, be cautious of the wind conditions. It may not take to flight wet, but one dry it could take off.

For canvas, you may want to treat it with a fabric protectant such as 303 High Tech Fabric Guard.

Fender Lines and Hole Through the Middle Fenders

If you have ever had to retrieve a knot that has slipped inside a hole through the middle fender, we have a simple inexpensive solution. Use stainless steel fender washers slightly larger than you line diameter between the knot and the fender and you’ll never have to retrieve another knot.

Hanging Fenders

There are all sorts of fender handers available today that hang on the stanchions and lifelines. We don’t sell any of them. It’s best not to add extra weight to lifelines and stanchions. The movement of the boat against the fender and dock can put considerable strain on your stanchions.

We offer a very simple solution that removes easily, always keeps your fenders at the correct height, keeps the weight of the fender concentrated at the base of the stanchion, and costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

Take a piece of the line longer than you think you will need to mount your fender and hang it from the base of the stanchion. Tie one end off on the fender if it has eyelets or runs it through the center if it is a hole through the middle design (fender lines for the hole through the middle fenders). With the free end make a loop and tie a knot in it. You should still have a tail coming off of the knotted loop. Tie a knot in this tail.

Categories
Sailing

The Best Islands Sailing to Enjoy Sea Travel

Santa Catalina Island

The most visited island off the coast of California, Catalina is also the closest to the Los

Angeles area although this romantic island is only about 32 nautical miles from Marina del Rey, it feels like a million from LA. The pace is much slower and more relaxing than the city. The water is much cleaner than any of the beaches of the mainland. Smog is non-existent.

The Isthmus at the west end can be reached in 4 or 5 hours under sail. This area, also known as Two Harbors, features Catalina Harbor a quarter-mile away on the other side of the island. This is the preferred anchorage and can be reached in six hours. Two Harbors has a little town with a country store, a restaurant, and an outside bar and dance floor featuring a live band on summer nights.

Skin diving and SCUBA diving are very good at Ship Rock at the entrance of the Isthmus. Camping by the sea is permitted for a fee. There are miles of great hiking trails that follow the top ridges of the island for a fantastic panoramic view. Mountain bikes can be rented. Shore boats transport passengers to and from the island in the summer for a fee.

Avalon is the only city on Catalina. It is about 40 nautical miles from the marina and takes about six hours to sail there. The famous landmark Casino is the first thing that you see approaching Avalon. Avalon features many shops, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs by the bay. Golf, horseback riding, and parasailing are available.

Golf carts can be rented to tour the city and view the area from the mountain roads. There is a dive park near the Casino. Guided bus tours are offered to explore the island’s interior. Outdoor concerts are also performed at Descanso Beach near the Casino in the summertime. Shore boats are available year-round. Avalon is a must-see if you’ve never been there before.

Santa Barbara Island

At one square mile, Santa Barbara is one of the smaller Channel Islands. It is a hill- shaped

island about 45 miles from Marina del Rey. Accessible only by private boat, it is much less visited than Catalina. There is one anchorage, a ranger station, and a campground.

We can circumnavigate the entire island before anchoring and see the spectacular sea caves, cliffs, mini-islands, and arches that give this island its character. The water is very clean and clear with friendly, curious sea lions everywhere. Swimming off the boat among the many sea lions at Santa Barbara Island is exciting, refreshing, and invigorating.

The park ranger will eagerly give a hiking tour of the island (the poor guy lives there all alone and really welcomes visitors!). Or you can hike the trail alone which follows the rim of the cliffs and offers fantastic views of the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean.

Anacapa Island

Located about 47 nautical miles from the marina, Anacapa is a two-day voyage with an

Overnight stop at Paradise Cove in Malibu at anchor, dolphins may be heard spouting around the boat at night. During the sail to Anacapa the next day, schools of dolphins are often seen, many of which will join us to ride the boat’s bow wave for a while. These animals thrive in the cleaner water past Malibu’s Point Dume.

A small island, Anacapa Island is actually three long islands chained together. The arched islet is the first thing you notice upon arriving at the island. Rising straight up from the bottom with sheer cliffs and sea caves, Anacapa is one of the more interesting of the Channel Islands. Sea lions inhabit the many caves at the water level.

There is a ranger station with a friendly park ranger willing to give tours of the island. Many charter boats from nearby Oxnard and Ventura bring divers over to experience the superb diving at Anacapa Island. The clean water allows great visibility. Camping is allowed on the western-most island. The downwind voyage home takes a whole day nonstop.

Santa Cruz Island

The largest of the Channel Islands, Santa Cruz is the next island west of Anacapa and

is a multi-day voyage. There are many anchorages and lots to see. The western 90% is owned by The Nature Conservancy and landing is by permit only. Landing is allowed in the eastern 10% of the island without a permit. Camping at Scorpion Canyon is permitted with a reservation.

Santa Cruz Island lies off the coast near Point Conception in the Santa Barbara Channel which is known for being very windy in the afternoon. Sailing around this island in the afternoon can be a rather exciting voyage that only seasoned sailors would enjoy.

Santa Rosa Island

Santa Rosa is the second-largest Channel Island and is located just west of Santa Cruz

Island. This is a multi-day voyage. There are four anchorages and landing is permitted. Camping is allowed at Beeches Bay with reservations.

Santa Rosa Island also lies off the coast near Point Conception in the Santa Barbara Channel and is often very windy. Although sailing to and around this island can be thrilling, it is not recommended for the faint of heart.

San Miguel Island

San Miguel is the westernmost Channel Island and is a multi-day voyage. Landing is

Permitted only at Curler Harbor Beach – one of only two anchorages this rugged, wind-swept island offers a ranger-guided 15-mile round-trip hike across the island.

San Miguel Island lies past Point Conception and is the windiest island in the Santa Barbara Channel. Only die-hard sailors should attempt this voyage.

Categories
Sailing

Enjoy the Adventures Sailing and Remember It in Your Whole Life

Harbor Sailing Tours

Take a tour around the largest man-made marina in the world. Marina del Rey is home port to over 6,000 private yachts, many owned by famous celebrities. See Fisherman’s Village and the fine restaurants from a sailboat’s perspective.

Harbor seals are always seen swimming near the live bait depot. Pelicans also make this their favorite hangout. Ubiquitous seagulls are observed swarming around the fishing boats. These tours are perfect for birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, anniversaries – you name it.

Day Sailing

Soak up the warm California sunshine and work on that tan while the spray hits your face on a delightful sailboat ride. See pelicans diving after fish. California sea lions and harbor seals are always seen basking in the sun on buoys in Santa Monica Bay. Watch dolphins swimming and leaping in the bow wave. You can almost reach down and pet them.

Take in all these sights while making 7 knots under full sail! The Nirvana has a wonderful easy motion at sea. It is truly smooth sailing at its finest. If you desire, sailing instructions are offered. You may also take a trick at the helm and help trim the sails.

Sunset Dinner Cruises

Guests may have dinner aboard the Nirvana while taking in the sights of Marina del Rey on a harbor tour or while enjoying a sunset sail on Santa Monica Bay. Guests are welcome to bring the entire food and drinks desirable, Ice, cooler, microwave, plates, glasses, napkins, etc. are standard.

Moonlight Sails

Few things are more romantic than watching the moon shimmer on the water while silently making way under sail. Seeing the stars at sea and all the city lights surrounding Santa Monica Bay is delightful. If you’re lucky, glowing green phosphorescence can be seen stirred up by the marine life. Captain Larry lives at the marina and can take folks out whenever the moon is up and a little breeze is blowing at a moment’s notice.

Whale Watching

“Thar she blows!” Watch California Grey whales during their annual migration to Mexico. Pods of Greys are sighted off the coast of California from January through the end of March. Reaching lengths of 60 feet, these animals are truly awesome. Blue whales, the largest animal that ever lived on Earth, are non-migratory and can be seen in Santa Monica Bay year-round.

Deep-Sea Fishing

“I got one!” Deep-sea fishing is yet another sport enjoyed on a sailboat. Sailboats move at the perfect trolling speed; just drag a tasty-looking lure behind the boat while underway and see what bites.

Multi-Day Island Adventures

Relax and thoroughly enjoy a two-, three-, or four-day adventure to one of California’s Channel Islands. All meals are included and guests may sleep on the boat, camp on the island (where permitted), or stay in a lodge or hotel (where available).

While visiting one of the islands, you might want to get a better view from the top. All of the Channel Islands have hiking trails for exploring. Tours by the park ranger are offered at some of the islands. Camping is allowed with reservations at some of the islands. Of course, you may dive off the boat and have an invigorating swim in clear blue water.

Snorkeling is also enjoyed on the multi-day trips to Santa Catalina Island or any of the other Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Explore kelp forests and search for abalone and lobsters.

Categories
Sailing

You Should Enjoy Your First Sailing

I was finally able to go out on my first sail about 3 weeks ago. As I mentioned before, I’m lucky enough to have a friend with a sailboat to show me the ropes.  Over the winter he had asked my other friend (also interested in learning to sail) and me if we wanted to crew his boat in beer leagues over the summer. Of course, I said yes!

A few Wednesdays ago we took the boat out for a practice run. Dave showed us around the boat, how to tack, bring up the main and jib, and how to steer everything.  Turns out the basics are very simple, but like everything else, perfection is in the details.

Sadly there was little wind on the river during our practice run. So tacking was very easy-going. I liked it. After a couple of hours on the water (and a couple of beers afterward), we decided we were ready for tomorrow’s first race, a practice race organized by the marina.

To give you the idea of our crew: myself (total knob), my friend (also a total knob), Dave’s wife (an experienced sailor, but first-time racer), and Dave, thankfully he’s been racing for a few years now but first time with his boat.  My friend and I are both in charge of the jib lines, Dave’s wife is handling the rudder, and Dave is on tactics.

The next day had much stronger winds. I wish I would tell you how many knots, but I simply forgot to ask or was too busy concentrating on my task to notice.  The race was pretty intense, our boat was on a crazy angle in certain positions (I forget the name) and I was convinced the whole damn boat was going to tip over.

Tacking was intense; it was definitely a two-man operation.  One guy was pulling the rope around the winch while the other was taking the slack and passing the winch handle when required.

Then, after a tack, we’d run out of the cockpit onto the deck so as to level out the boat with our weight. It was a pretty good workout, to be honest.  Dave was doing tactics, unfortunately, we didn’t really know what the course layout was (based on the flag) so we were just following the other boats (turns out they didn’t really know what they were doing either), so tactics was a bit of a crapshoot.

The good news is we managed to finish the race. The bad news is we came in dead last.  But I had a blast!  I’m still getting the hang of everything and getting used to thinking about everything in terms of wind position, but having loads of fun learning. Beer was well deserved after!

The next race day, one week later, had absolutely no wind. So much so that we didn’t even finish the race. Our tacking is becoming a bit better in terms of timing though and I think we are starting to work a bit better as a crew.  This time we had the rule book in hand and knew exactly what the racecourse was.

Two nights from now we’ll be having our second official race. The goal is to not finish last! We’ll see how that goes.