December 18th Newsletter: Valanta Arrives in St Thomas

First, seasons greetings to all our members, students, other customers and friends.  We thank you very very much for your support, and wish you the best for the coming year.

As usual, the passage from CT to Bermuda was challenging at times.  We left as one of a series of strong low’s pulled out to sea, and the NW winds, which in the morning were close to 30 knots, soon died off to under 15 knots that evening.  The forecast called for 2 more days of light winds followed by another intense low tracking to our north.  Of course, we want the calmest possible conditions in the Gulf Stream region, so we motor-sail all the way to past the Gulf Stream.

We enjoyed lots of dolphin antics in the first 2 days out.

We also passed a weather buoy, which I had never seen up close before.

The Gulf Stream region was as calm as could be, but the pleasant conditions were not to last.  Fortunately we got a strong push to the east with 3 knots of current with us for 5 hours.

Sunrise Dec 1 – 38°30′ N, almost in the Gulf Stream.

By the morning of Dec 2nd, the winds were SW 27 knots with gusts to 33, and kept blowing all the way to 20 miles from Bermuda, when the cold front passed over us with heavy rain and winds over 40 knots.   From just south of the stream, we had a constant companion, an immature herring gull who hung with us all the way to Bermuda.

Dec 3rd, Chris B. on the helm, with Dean M., Peter C. and Cat N. Our adopted seagull is just over Cat’s head!

Needless to say, we were all glad to slip thru Town Cut and enjoy a hot shower that evening. Colette, Martins’s wife, flew in for the St George Walkabout, which was huge fun as always. After 3 days of repairs and cleaning, Valanta was good to go.

The second leg crew was Martin Jr joining Martin Sr along with Greg G, the owner. We again needed to make good time, as Bermuda was slated to be nailed by two lows developing Hurricane force winds 3 days after we left.

We again made great time the first day, covering 3 degree’s in the first 24 hours.  As the low approached to the north, the winds built from the SW shifting to the SE for a brief time on Dec 9th, before shifting back to the SSW with the 2nd low.

Greg D on watch, Dec 10th, still SSW winds!

Needless to say, we ended up well to the east!   But with mostly clear skies, temps in the mid 70’s, starry nights and winds under 25 knots, it was was a pleasant trip indeed.

Martin Jr looking a little wet after a little squall, so common in the trades!

Of course, finally seeing the Virgins is amazing.  We enjoying a lovely sail past Jost van Dyke with the night spent on a mooring off Caneel Bay listening to the tree frogs and waves lapping on the beach!   Work on the Caneel Bay resort has not yet have started, as we understand the new lease with the Park Service was just signed.  But the Concession on Caneel Bay itself is open, and the Beaches look as good as ever.

Rock jumping at the Baths, one of my kids favorite things to do!

Bareboat Classes and Caribbean Racing 2019

Nothing like a good cold snap to focus our minds on the Caribbean! There is still lots of availability on Valanta for members to escape the cold!

New this year is a shorter Bareboat Class for a reduced price of $1,600. SSC members as usual pay 20% less.

This class includes 2 evening sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, with a Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon (48 hour) Cruise. You can stay on board for the entire program.  If you would like to extend your stay and use the Hanse 400, this of course is possible.

Class Sessions:               Friday-Sunday Cruise:
Jan 23rd & 24th               Jan 25th – 27th
May 1st & 2nd                  May 3rd – 5th

We will also offer our normal 5 day Bareboat program, combined with the St Thomas International Regatta for $1,990 (or $2,600 for couples).   This class starts Sunday morning, March 17th (most students fly in on Sat), with racing on the 22nd to the 24th (which can be done separately from the class, and is always a popular event).  In 2017 we won our class on Varuna!

Cruise:                            STIR racing:
March 17th – 21st          March 22nd – 24th

More info;  SSC Bareboat Classes

New Years Regatta!

SSC is pleased to offer a New Year’s Race on January 1st 2019, weather permitting.  Rigging starts just past noon at 12:15 pm with the first start at 12:30 pm. The final race will start by 2 pm.
As before, members can race for free as crew.  Non-members can race for $20.  Kids race for free.  All crew who are not your kids would still need to fill out a registration form and pay the $20 per person fee.
One design racing is the best way to refine your sailing skills, and learn what makes a boat fast.  We guarantee you will become a better sailor, and of course, the thrill and excitement of racing is great fun.   We look forward to seeing you out there.  Please use our MeetUp page to sign up for racing;

October 31st Newsletter: Hanse 400 Delivery & Offshore Training

This Saturday afternoon and Sunday look good for bringing the Hanse 400 back from Mystic to Norwalk. We will head up Saturday afternoon, leaving around noon from SSC.  Transportation will be arranged.  Wind forecast start out of the south, shifting to the SW and west by the evening (and building to 15-20).  Temps will be in the 60’s.  Ebb begins at 8:30 am, max ebb 11:30 am on Saturday, so getting under way around 2 pm will give us 6 hours of a nice flood.

Of course, dark by around 6:40 pm.  Saturday night it will probably be best to stop in Westbrook (about 25 nm – 5:30 eta) or Clinton (6:30 eta), where we can plug in for heat. Could also go to the Thimbles and grab a mooring.

We will get an early start Sunday, underway by 7 am. 2 hrs of flood, then bucking the tide, but not too much in the Sound at that point. Sunday afternoon we will arrive in Norwalk around 2-3 pm. Sunday will be a beautiful day, cool clear NW winds with a high of 53 degrees.  The Long Island Sound is still quite warm, which makes fall cruising much more pleasant.   Please email us about space availability if you are a member or recent student.

Valanta departing for Bermuda Dec 2017

The following weekend, Saturday November 10th 10 am – 2 pm we will likely do the Offshore prep session, then haul the Hanse 400.   As usual, we will leave as soon after Thanksgiving as possible (Dec. 1-2 is ideal but we will likely depart sooner than that), with the Bermuda to St Thomas leg departing on December 8th.

One of our favorite things to do with a Bosun’s chair!

SSC is pleased to offer  Frostbiting every Sunday from Novovember 4th to December 16th, with a New Year’s Race on January 1st 2019!  Rigging starts just past noon at 12:15 pm with the first start at 12:30 pm. The final race will start by 2 pm.

As before, members can race for free as crew.  Non-members can race for $20.  Kids race for free.  All crew who are not your kids would still need to fill out a registration form and pay the $20 per person fee.

One design racing is the best way to refine your sailing skills, and learn what makes a boat fast.  We guarantee you will become a better sailor, and of course, the thrill and excitement of racing is great fun.   We look forward to seeing you out there.  Please use our MeetUp page to sign up for racing;

Sound Sailing Center MeetUp Page

August 28th 2018 Newsletter: Summer Report & Fleet Updates

We had another great Advanced Class with 5 students, starting out on the Var 37 from Norwalk to Mystic, where we then switched to the Hanse 400 for the rest of the class. Wim and I put a huge amount of effort and experience into making this course interesting, challenging and very worthwhile.

The following quote is from Todd C, a lifelong sailor who currently races a 21′ high performance sport boat in upstate NY;
“As a veteran dinghy sailor with some big boat experience I was wanted to leverage these skills into big boat cruising skills and a formal US Sailing Bareboating Certificate to be ready to bareboat extensively in the Mediterranean the following summer. Martin and his team delivered beyond my wildest dreams! I am a former college sailor who grew up sailing lasers, 420’s and ultimately campaigned a J/24 before having kids. I got back into sailing recently and sail / race a Viper 640. I wanted an efficient way to convert my extensive dinghy knowledge into coastal cruising experience and to be confidently ready to captain a bareboat in the Mediterranean with family and friends with less experience than I as crew. The Sound Sailing Advanced Cruising course was perfect. In just six days I gained extensive experience with big boat systems, from diesel engines to heads, docking, including the infamous Mediterranean mooring technique, navigation and passage making. The sail from Norwalk, CT to Rockland, ME was a journey to remember and the perfect way to constantly apply and test my new skills. Immediately after the course my girlfriend and I chartered a boat from Martin’s team for the next six days and I applied my new skills sailing from Mystic to Block Island, Montauk, and Gardeners Island, making an idyllic vacation that we will both remember for a lifetime – in fact, we are now seriously considering our own boat! Thank you Martin and Wim!”

A beautiful sunset as we work our way up the coast of NE.

John F, a long time SSC big boat member, sent us the following;

“I had been trying to fit the Advanced Cruising Course into my calendar for the last two years and the stars finally aligned this year.  And I’m so happy they did.  It met all my expectations and then some. Two parts boot camp; two parts drinking from the fire hose; three parts fun; and many parts camaraderie. Martin and Wim are great instructors and allowed all of us students to internalize the lessons and work through the anxious parts, without ever letting us get into any trouble.  My confidence index is way up and I really feel like I can take on more challenging sailing, including accelerating my plan to charter a boat in Croatia.  If you’re considering taking the course . . . do it. You won’t be disappointed.”

Tip of the Week, Fleet Updates, New Daysailer

The hot summer days have not been pleasant inland, but if out on water, you can be very comfortable.  In the evenings, you should find a spot to the leeward of the Long Island Sound or relevant body of water.   Locally, if a SW breeze, as we typically get, anchoring or picking up a mooring off the Thimbles, Charles Island off Milford, or amongst the Norwalk Islands is the most pleasant spot to spend the night, with much cooler temps than if you are in a Long Island harbor or, heaven forbid, up the CT river where you are downwind of a large hot land mass!
Looking to go sailing Labor Day weekend, with cooler temps and less humidity on the way after the cold front passage thursday evening?   We have several yachts available for member use, including the fast and comfortable VAr 37 which is currently in Mystic.  Several other yachts are also available for shorter sails, including the Pearson 37 on sunday and monday, and the Bristol 27.7 for the whole weekend.   Although there is still a small (30%) chance of showers for Sat/Sun, with high pressure moving in from Canada, we expect a very pleasant weekend.

Our Var 37 combines lovely line, a simple, comfortable 3 stateroom interior and off the charts sailing fun/performance

We are currently looking at another C&C 32 to replace the CS 30.   We recently did over 8 hours of work on the Mystic C&C 32 early this week and she is in great shape.  The laminate headsail for the CS 30 has been repaired, and we will put it back on for this weekend. The Contest has a new 3 blade prop, and the Sweden is getting LED running lights this week and a few other upgrades.  The Var 37 is getting a new steering wheel, slightly smaller so you should be able to walk around it.  The wheel was bent after a collision with some rocks in Fishers Island Sound.  Charting courses in advance in unfamiliar waters is not optional!!   Fortunately, the VAr 37 was structurally fine.  The Hanse 400 is being used till next Sunday by members.  We are looking for member feedback on which 40 class yacht, the Var 37 (better for daysailing) or Hanse 400 (larger more luxurious interior)  comes back to Norwalk for the next 2 months.    Please email us your requests.  If needed, we can help transport you up to Mystic so you can enjoy a one way trip back to Norwalk.
The 23′ Sonar is also in the water, and we will be rigging her for this weekend!

Block Island has always been one of our favorite places!

Family summer cruise!

Colette and Martin took the kids for 5 days on the C&C 32, with a friend joining us for two days in Block.  I continue to be so impressed with the C&C 32.  Given the length she has a reasonable interior and she is an absolute delight to sail, with a very well balanced and light helm.  Besides 3 kids we also brought 1 two-person rigid kayak, 3 inflatable kayaks, 1 surfboard and 4 boogie boards along with enough food to eat on board every night.  Probably the most amazing think to me is that the five 2.5 gallon water bottles I had frozen before we headed down still had ice in them for the trip back!
Block was great as always, and the 4′ draft of the C&C allowed us to anchor with lots of room close to Dingy Beach, just south of Harris Point.  This is, to my mind, the best spot to anchor in Block Island Harbor.  It’s a short row row to Dingy beach and then a 5 min walk to town, and you are far enough away from the nightlife that turning in early is an option.  Of course, a shoal draft boat like the C&C or Contest 36 is essential.

Exploring the cliffs just west of Monhegan Bluffs!


Come join us for the last evening of racing tomorrow

Calendar, 2018

Last Thursday Race Night   This Thursday, August 30th, is the last night of evening racing, starting at 6 pm.  We hope you will join us, with pizza and beer afterwards!  Please sign up here:
Every Sat / Sun   Intro or Basic Keelboat start at 8am and run to 1pm every Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the summer. Either sign up for one package or Sign up for Intro to Sailing, Basic Keelboat or our best value, Intro and Basic Keelboat combined ($150 savings) here;
September 13-16   Newport Boat Show. – A New England classic.  We are taking a break from this show this year, but will be back next year.  60% power, 40% sail.   Pretty good show for equipment and higher end sailboats.
September 20-23  Norwalk Boat Show. – 90% power show.  Members and students have to pay to park, but parking close to the SSC docks and Sunset Grill is possible.
September 24-26 (evenings) Sept 28-30. – Basic Cruising Classes!    Our third (and probably last Basic Cruising Class will run with 2 evening sessions on Sept 24th and 26th, and an overnight cruising starting 9 am Friday Sept 28th for 2 days.
Oct 4-8. – Annapolis Boat Show – Columbus Day weekend The largest all sail show by far, this is also our favorite show and a must see for all serious sailors.   SSC and Dutchman will be there in our usual space, 15A.
Oct 20-30 –  Big Boats out of Service.   Come late Oct we start pulling the larger yachts out of Service.  The Ensigns stay in service year round.

Dec 1 – 6th. – Ocean Passage – Mystic to Bermuda

Our 22nd passage south!   On Dec 7th, we hope to arrive in time for the amazing Bermuda Christmas Walkabout in St George, one of our favorite Christmas events with local artists performing on stage and many of the finest local homes open for visitors with delightful appetizers served!   It’s an amazing party!   On Dec 8th or 9th we typically leave for the 5-6 day trip to St Thomas.

The 2016 Bermuda Christmas Walkabout!