Wednesday, April 30, 2014


There has been a whole lot of change and upheaval in the past several weeks. What with packing up and moving Chez Murman from the burbs to the downtown and various developments at the office, my mind, body and soul needed to be on the water. Thinking the earliest this could happen was still weeks away as there was still much to be done to my old condo.

But then on Thursday morning before work, the sound of an incoming text message startled me from my weary state. It was Aaron, skipper of the sailing vessel Rosa Maria and slip neighbour. He was inviting me on rather short notice to join him for the annual West Van YC Stag Race. He had been invited by WVYC member and skipper of the Tarka - Hank.

Next thing you know its Saturday and we are headed to the start line with winds of 15- 20 with gusts of 25 in the forecast.
Skipper Aaron of the Rosa Maria

Sailing with Aaron was something I was hoping to do someday. He usually sails Rosa single handed and he has incorporated some very clever ideas to sail with such ease his 30 foot Catalina. I looked at this weekend as a chance to meet with new sailors at the finish, to learn from Aaron and perhaps gain some experience in good winds. The weekend accomplished all of that and then some.

Aaron had decided to have me on the helm as we went to the start line as he was really looking forward to sail trim and grinding away at his winches. It took me some time to get used to Rosa and how she handled. She has a wheel not a tiller.

Aaron would say "Bring her 10ยบ to Port"
I would begin to turn the wheel.
Aaron would then say "Your other Port"

Then I realized that I was instinctively reacting to a turn as if I was on a tiller! I found that odd since I did learn to sail on a large boat with a wheel! I know that back in Horseshoe Bay, Corleto was having a chuckle. It had taken me a few sails to get used to her tiller.

Its a wheel, not a tiller!

With great wind coming over Rosa's starboard, we crossed the start line on a very nice beam reach with speed. We shot to the head of the fleet but it was short lived as those boats behind us including Hank's Tarka, were reeling us in.

Aaron made a skippers decision to alter coarse to potentially avoid a ferry, and the course change took us off our primary beam reach and slowed us a bit before reaching Cape Roger Curtis.  We made the Starboard turn into the Collingwood Channel. The winds were gusty there in places and with me on the helm and poor ol' Aaron trimming and grinding, reefing and shaking, we managed to keep decent speed.
Trimming Sails

The rest of the fleet brought out their Spinnys and before we knew it we had faster lighter boats overtaking to our Starboard. Rosa Maria is a girl without a spinnaker. No matter we sailed on.

OH, OH! Spinnakers!

Spinnaker boat overtaking

We watched Tarka wrestle with her kite as it seemed to take that perfect hourglass shape of "oh crap". Hank got it figured out and doused it just moments before the wind changed direction and increased. Broach averted for Tarka.  We all laughed about it as Hank retold the story at the finish over a well deserved and chilled tall glass of what sailors live for.

Tarka on the move

It was a great sail and a wonderful day to be on the water. I had watched Aaron reef the main on the fly and then shake it minutes later. I know I will apply that experience to my own boat. I finally understood why sometimes less sail equals more speed and control.

Tied up at Elliot Bay

As we approached Elliot Bay, an out station for the West Van Yacht Club, we called in our time and began to prepare to lower our sails. When it was done, and we were tied up, you could not wipe the smiles off many of the faces of all who took part. It wasn't what position our boat finished that mattered. It was the fact we had averaged 5.5 to 6 knots for the whole afternoon and how much fun each of us had with full sails.

Crew of the Rosa Maria- WVYC Stag Race 2014

It was good for the soul.