August 2nd Newsletter: Advanced Class Update

Our Advanced Class as usual was a big success, with Martin van Breems and George Kalan teaching.   We had time to practice so many drills, like 2 anchor anchoring, med mooring, anchoring under sail, backing into a slip, rigging heavy weather sails, and night sailing.  We even pulled apart a toilet, changed an impeller, replaced a Racor fuel filter and bled the fuel system.  

Martin (foreground then counterclockwise) Ty, Robert, Daken, Klaus, (both SSC members) George Kalan and Esteban, after completing backing in drills at Cuttyhunk.

The class got off to a slow start, as we did harbor hops between the severe thunderstorms, and ended up holing up at Southport as the deluge bore down on us.   We all put our cell phones etc. in the oven, and hung out 10′ of anchor chain so as to provide a path exterior to the boat.   We worked our way up the sound on Tuesday, then transferred to the Hanse 400 and continued on to a few more harbors in the Fishers Island Sound and then across to Cuttyhunk Wednesday evening. 

As usual, the Elizabeth Islands, ending in Woods Hole, were a challenge. Then we headed up to the Cape Cod Canal, and on through into Cape Cod bay and the Gulf of Maine Thursday Evening for our overnight passage.

Sunrise in the Gulf of Maine.

Friday we made landfall at Monhegan Island, and everyone enjoyed a little Island time, with Klaus and Martin doing a quick Cliff Run, then on to a bunch of harbors in Penobscot Bay, spending the night off VinylHaven.

The Monhegan Island Cliffs are just spectacular!

As usual, the class was full.  You should sign up soon if you want to take the class next year.   One of the students, Esteban, had this to say;

“The SSC Advanced Cruising class to Maine July 2019 was awesome! I feel I gained a tremendous amount of practical knowledge and skill in this hands-on apprentice style format. I believe I learned more in those 5 days than I might have learned in several years of reading and practicing skills on my own!  The harbors and anchorages we visited were beautiful and the easy going vibe on the boat fostered a great comeraderie even while we all focused with seriousness on the learning. Considering Martin’s vast experience I felt lucky to have found this class and consider the tuition a bargain. I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in advancing their cruising competence and safety!”

Summer Weather #2 / Reefing 101

Our newsletter from a few weeks ago, which discussed the dangerous weather we sometimes get, was quite timely.  That Sunday we cancelled all afternoon lessons and boat use, due to the severe thunderstorm warnings.   Of course, the weather before the major storm blew through was lovely, 10-15 knots with blue skies.   15 minutes after the first warnings of thunder, a severe thunderstorm blew throught, with local winds in the Norwalk / Westport area in excess of 60 knots.  One of the 30 Atlantics from Ceder Point YC in Westport was overwhelmed, and sank as she was struggling to get in.   

We hear so often from members that are looking at one of the various apps, which of course do not do a good job when there is a chance of severe weather.   We can’t stress highly enough the importance of reviewing the NOAA forecast discussion NOAA Mobile Weather.

Reefing is one of the most important skills to master.  

Note the forward reef block 6′ above the boom.

Reefing 101

  1. Ease off the main.
  2. Ease off vang and boom brake so boom can rise up.  Very important.
  3. Head up or ease more mainsheet till mainsail is luffing and at least off spreaders.  Closer to wind is better.   Do not head into the wind, but sail by the jib.  It sometimes helps to overtrim the jib to help blow the main off the shrouds
  4. Take off all but one – two wraps of the main halyard off the forward winch (make CERTAIN the halyard stopper is all the way open first) and pull in the reef line at the same time.  You must keep tension on the halyard so the reef line pulls down the sail.
  5. Lock off the halyard when the forward reef is the right distance from the boom (18″ to 2′ on a boat like the Hanse 400).  It is far easier to use forward reef line to get luff tension, but you must stop halyard at right location, then winch tight reef line. Halyards should be marked to the correct location.
  6. If you lower sail too far, you will need to retension the halyard before you pull in on the reef line.
  7.   Reef clew should be within 6″ of boom.  Sail foot must be VERY flat.  The reef lines will be incredibly tight. 
  8. Snug up second set of reef lines, if offshore w both reefs run.
  9. Tighten vang, brake, then mainsheet.  May need some more backstay to flatten sail.

The aft line is tight, with the reef clew about 8″ above the boom.  Note how flat the sail is.

Racing every Thursday, 6pm! 

The racing series is open to all!  Of course, one design racing is far and away the best way to refine your sailing skills, and learn how small differences in sail trim or steering have a big impact on speed. Plus learning to working together effectively as a team and grow is rewarding in any endeavor.

If you wish to steer, you must have completed our Intro to Sailing course. Each boat will have one or 2 captains, who will be SSC members. The SSC members will do the starts and about half the driving upwind and downwind. If you have completed the Intro courses, you will qualify as a helmsman and you can and will do some of the steering as we will rotate through positions. We try to set the courses to get in 4 or more starts, helping you refine your strategy on the line.

Boats start leaving the dock at 6:00 pm. We have in the past and will continue to offer women’s only boats as often as possible, along with singles boat if sufficient interest. Since we race close to the dock, you often can jump on a boat at any point up to the last race. The races will be cancelled if small craft warnings are posted, the winds are over 18 knots, gusts are over 22 knots, or there is moderate to heavy rain or lightning. We normally look at the New Haven and UConn Western Long Island Sound weather stations for wind strengths.

The Thursday evening racing series starts June 20th, and continues for every Thursday till mid-September, for a total of approx. 14 evenings. The cost is $20 per person for non-members, free for members unless you are the Captain (in which case the cost is $20).  Members can invite one guest at the member rate (and additional guests at the non-member rate). 

Fleet Update! 

40 Class Our Var 37 is super clean and ready for your adventures in Mystic CT. Valanta, our Hanse 400, is up in Maine.   The new rubrails have been installed.  Let us know your summer plans and interest asap, especially if you wish to sail in Maine and Northern New England.

Varuna is available in Norwalk this friday, from Sunday July 7 to Sunday July 14th, and from Tuesday July 16th to Sunday July 20th.  Thereafter she heads to Mystic and becomes the Mystic 40 class yacht for the rest of August.  There are no reservations from August 6th to August 15th.   

Valanta is available from August 26th in Portsmouth NH, for a cruise down the NE coastline.  Gloucester / Cape Ann is one 0f my favorite stops, and of course there is so much cool stuff like Marblehead, Boston and Plymouth MA, followed by the incomparable Elizabeth Islands, Nantucket, Buzzards Bay and Martha’s Vineyard. 

Our Hanse 400 features a spacious bright interior.

35 Class The Sweden 340 has the new upholstery in, along with the new V berth and Mainsalon hatches.  She is avail Aug 12th (mon) to Aug 22nd (thurs), then no bookings after Aug 26th..  The Mystic based Contest 36 has been out on her first cruises to Newport and Block Island.  Lots of availability.  Her only reservation presently is Aug 2-4.

32 Class The C&C 32 is launched and back in service in Mystic. The next project for her is a rigid bimini with a solar panel.  She looks great!  In Norwalk, the Pearson 37 is sailing.  The CS 30 has been launched and is back in service. 

27 Class Please contact us if the Bristol 27.7 or any other class is of interest soon!   The Bristol 27 is for sale, but can be used in the meantime.  

Ensigns We have installed 4 new mains and 3 new electric motors, several new chargers, and almost all the boats have new bilge pumps.  We have also started redoing the varnish, and repainted the interiors so they are looking better than ever!


Every Sat / Sun  Passport to Sailing, Intro or Basic Keelboat classes start at 8am and run to 1pm every Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the summer.  Our best value is Intro and Basic Keelboat combined ($150 savings) here;  Combined Intro and Basic Keelboat 

Basic Cruising Class   –   September 6th – 8th The class starts next week with evening Session on tuesday Sept 3rd and wednesday the 4th (flexible).  The class runs from 10am on Friday Sept 6th to 4 pm Saturday the 7th.  Students then do a overnight sail to practice what they have learned.  This class will run from Norwalk to Stamford to Eatons Neck / Huntington LI and then back to Norwalk. Basic Cruising

Keeping our bodies in shape is important, but keeping our minds sharp and in shape is just as important.  The process of learning or expanding a new sport like sailing is beneficial not just for the relaxation and excitement that sailing provides, but your brain also experiences significant benefits thanks to the challenge of learning. Sailing and cruising is such a wonderful way to experience the world.  NY Times Article on Learning a New Sport