Sea Scout Ship 502

We love to sail.

Mar 8 Program: Time, Bells, & Watches – Given by Kim

leave a comment »

Two Mondays ago, (I apologize for getting these minutes out so late) we had quite an eventful meeting. The main matters of interest from the evening included discussing the geocache “Race to the WIK 2010,” voting on a Long Sail destination, learning about the bell and watch system used on sailing vessels, and starting timed knot races.   

This first order of business was receiving the new geocache travel bug for the Race to WIK 2010. For those of you who don’t know what geocaching is, “geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online” (quote from You usually place a small object of some sort into the cache and trade for another small object. The travel bug is a tag attached to the object and is used to track the movement of the geocache object. The purpose of the Race to WIK 2010 is to get our team’s bug to the Koch Cup before any of the other teams. Both of our Koch Cup teams, Nick/Kelly and Eva/Sofia, will participate in the geocache race. Nick/Kelly received their travel bug first and selected, as their geocache object, a rubber duck. This pirate-clad duck (pictured right) underwent the rigorous and top-secret naming procedure to become “Spo,” short for “Spoil Area.” Click “Ducks” under “Pages” in the sidebar to see our other rubber duckies.

Geocaching with Spo/ Starting the Race to WIK 2010

Next, we voted on our Long Sail destination for this summer which is… PADRE ISLAND! yay! Long Sail will be June 6-13.   

The program for the evening discussed “Times, Bells, and Watches.”   

The watch system allows a sailing crew to rotate duties and operate a vessel non-stop over a long period of time. A watch is usually a four hour period of time in which a crew member has a specific activity he or she is supposed to be doing.

The watch system began when ships were powered by oarsmen rather than sails. Rowing was difficult work and one oarsmen could not row for very long without tiring. To solve this problem, an hour-glass would time a thirty-minute period, after which the rowing crew would switch off with another crew and have a thirty-minute resting period, and the cycle would repeat itself.   

Later on, ships were developed that used a combination of sail power and rowing power. This made work significantly easier on the oarsmen meaning they could row longer than before. Each shift, or “watch,” was now two turns of the hour-glass, or one hour, rather than thirty minutes.   

trireme (sail and oar)

When boats became powered solely by sail, there was much less labor-intensive work for the crew members, which allowed for even longer watches. Watches became four hours long and rather than rotating just work and rest watches, each crew member had an individualized schedule with specified watches for working (for instance being lookout or handling a sail), eating, and sleeping.   

 The Watches:   

First Watch                                           2000-2400   

Middle Watch                                       2400-0400   

Morning Watch                                     0400-0800   

Forenoon Watch                                   0800-1200   

Afternoon Watch                                  1200-1600   

First Dog Watch*                                  1600-1800   

Second Dog Watch*                              1800-2000   

                            * Dog Watches are only two hours   

The Bells:      (each ” . ” is a ring of the bell; there are short pauses after every two rings of the bell)   

ex: Forenoon Watch:                                                                              ex: First Dog Watch:    

0800          . .        . .        . .        . .                                                        1600          . .        . .        . .        . .   

0830          .                                                                                           1630          .   

0900          . .                                                                                         1700          . .   

0930          . .        .                                                                                1730          . .        .   

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                                                                  1800          . .        . .        . .        . .   

1130          . .        . .        . .       .   

1200          . .        . .        . .        . .   

 After the program, Kim presented the idea of having timed knot races at the end of each meeting. The goal is to have everybody be able to tie all of a list of knots in under three minutes. This will prepare our members for events such as SEAL and Rendezvous and will make sure all members know the knots for regular use, rather than quickly relearning them before a competition. However, at this meeting, we did not have time to hold a knot race…


Written by ship502

March 21, 2010 at 11:40

Mar 13-14th Merit Badge Camping Event

leave a comment »

This will be a small-boat sail/overnight camping trip on Lake Somerville. Hopefully, we will have sunfish and lasers to teach the basics of small boat sailing. Bring your friends so they can learn! (Remember, the goal of this event is to practice teaching small boat sailing to kids our age, so we can teach boy scouts later on as a fundraising event).

Meet at 9:00 AM at the church.

Bring a sack lunch, $15 for the rest of the weekend’s food, anything you’ll need to small-boat sail, and anything you’ll need to stay in a tent overnight (except for the tent itself, that will be provided).

*ATTENTION*- We still need an adult that is willing to trailer the six-pack of sunfish to Lake Somerville and we need an adult that can stay on Saturday.

RSVP if you haven’t already at a meeting and you want to go

Good times…

Written by ship502

March 8, 2010 at 21:48

Posted in Notices

2010 Long Sail Options Redux

leave a comment »

 Since the last Long  Sail post, there have been many other suggestions of possible destinations. The complete list of proposed long sail ideas include: Padre Island, Mobile AL, Canyon Lake, and the Ouachita Lakes in Oklahoma and Arkansas. However, we have been advised that we don’t travel more than 400 miles. So that narrows down the choices to Canyon Lake (190 mi away) and Padre Island (270 mi).

I’ve included a poll at the end of this post to gauge general interest, and perhaps, if there are enough votes to travel more than 400 mi, there might be a reconsideration.

Canyon Lake (New Braunfels, TX)

As for Canyon Lake’s pro’s, it is the shortest drive of any of the destination ideas. There are many campgrounds to choose from that include the usual restrooms and showers and on site water spicket and even electrical outlet. Also, there are many other things to do there in case we can’t/don’t go sailing on the lake one day. Things such as SCHLITTERBAHN and other attractions in New Braunfels.

However, Canyon Lake is just like any typical hill-country lake. This means it will most likely be very hot in the summer (albeit early summer; remember we’re going in June) and, although I haven’t found any evidence regarding this, might not have perfectly consistent wind. Think of Lake Travis to get an idea of what it might feel like.


Padre Island

North Padre was suggested because of the beautiful beaches and the idea of sailing on the open-ocean, rather than in protected water ways with which we are so accustomed.

However, the last time we tried that (on 2008’s Long Sail) it did not go so well. In 2008 we stayed on Galveston Island with the intention of sailing sunfish everyday on the ocean. In addition to exposing me (I have no idea how others felt about it) to my open-ocean related phobias:

 …it was also nearly impossible to do. According to the log of Long Sail 2008, the first day we tried, it was “[too] difficult to get sunfish into the ocean.” The next day was “another day too strong for our small boats.” And all subsequent days were “still [too] harsh.”

Luckily, at that time, we had the option of sailing on Lake Como located five minutes away on the protected side of Galveston Island. On the other side of Padre Island is the protected, “hypersaline” Laguna Madre. I haven’t found anything that mentions small boat sailing on the Laguna, but I do know that swimming and windsurfing are among its popular activities, so sailing there shouldn’t be that out of the question.

Another issue is that most of the campsites are designed mainly for RV-style camping and offer detailed reports of dump stations, water refill stations, and paved sites close to the water, but don’t provide as much information regarding the tent camping amenities. Only one campground I found, the Malaquite Campground, offers restrooms and “rinse showers.”

More Information:

For Padre Island I came up with this plan: stay at (A) the Malaquite Campground (because its right on the coast and has restrooms). If the ocean conditions are too strong for some reason, we go down that Bird Island Basin Rd. to sail on the more protected Laguna Madre. (see map below)

We shall discuss these options at the Quarterdeck Meeting and vote on them at the Monday meeting. I apologize for not getting this out sooner, but take the poll and tell us which one you want to go to. Remember this poll is only to gauge general interest and will not be used to decide where we’re going for Long Sail. We will take an official vote on Monday.

Written by ship502

March 7, 2010 at 10:42

Posted in Info

Mar 1 Racing Program: Some Basics -Given by Nick

with one comment

These are the three most important principles every racer should keep in mind while sailing.

1. Sail Trim

When sailing upwind, the sails should be close-hauled.

To review how sails move the boat when going up wind: sails work as an airfoil. Air going around the windward side of the sail has less distance to travel and will have less speed; this creates low pressure on the windward side of the sail. Air going around the leeward side of the sail has a long, curved distance to travel and will blow across faster, creating a high pressure on the leeward side of the sail. As with the wings on an airplane, the two pressure cause a force, called lift, to push the boat in the direction of the high pressure, or towards leeward; This force to leeward is called leeway. The boat is able to move forward because the centerboard and rudder resist moving sideways against the water and will redirect the leeway force forwards. However, for all of this forwards motion, there is always some drift in the leeward direction.

Adding a jib can make the two sails more effective. If the jib is trimmed correctly, it will channel more air between the sails to go even faster around the high pressure side of the main, resulting in an even greater difference in pressures and a greater force.

If the jib is too tight in comparison to the main, it will channel its wind directly onto the back of the main sail and disrupt the high/low pressure system.

To make sure the jib is set correctly for a close hauled close, keep both side’s telltales streaming straight back. If the inside telltale is not flying straight, then the jib needs to be adjusted out. If the outside telltale is not flying straight, then the jib needs to be trimmed in.

Also adjust the jib so that there are no wrinkles in the foot of the sail.

2. Heading

When sailing upwind, you should sail as close to the wind as possible (which, as you know, is about 45 degrees from the wind). You can tell if you are pointing too high if the sails start luffing, meaning that they are not smooth and flat and may have a bubble in the luff of the sail. Remember, when close-hauled, the sails should be smooth and tight.

Keep in mind that the upwind mark might not always be directly upwind from the starting line. Sometimes the wind will shift to come from another direction, and the boat’s heading will need to be changed as well. If the wind shifts, use the tack that will provide the most direct path to the windward mark.

3. Crew Positioning

On upwind legs, most small racing boats sail fastest when perfectly balanced and flat on the water. Certain conditions can cause the boat to lean or heel in different directions. However the weight of the crew can be placed to keep the boat flat.

Because the pivot point of the boat is the centerboard, the crew should be seated as close together as possible over the centerboard. The crew usually sits forward of the jib cleat, and the skipper just behind the jib cleat. This will prevent the boat from plowing (the bow dipping lower in the water) or dragging (the stern dipping lower into the water).

Heavy wind will shift the pivot point further back, behind the centerboard; so in heavy wind, both skipper and crew should move further back, but still sit close together.

When sailing close-hauled, the boat normally heels over to leeward. To counteract this, the crew should hike out so that their bodies are parallel with the water.

Keeping the boat flat in this situation makes the boat sail faster because more of the leeway force will be converted into forwards movement. Recall that the sails create an airfoil that pushes the boat to leeward, perpendicular to the line of the boat. However, the surface area of the side of the center board resists movement in the leeward direction and redirects the force forwards. When the boat heels over, less of the centerboard surface area is resisting the leeway force and the boat will drift more to leeward.

At the meeting, we never got to learn how each of these three principles change for each different point of sail (reaching, wing-on-wing, etc.). I actually went much more in depth than we did at the meeting, so it is a lot more information (albeit much of it review material) than should be presented all at once. So ya know, oops… But I hope it was helpful nevertheless. I probably could have found real pictures for this lesson, but I find Microsoft Paint far too much fun:-) Click on the pictures to make them larger.

Tongue-twister a la Kim:

“How many tales could a telltale tell if a telltale could tell tales.”

written and posted by Kelly BMA

Written by ship502

March 2, 2010 at 22:23

Mar 6th Boat Workday

leave a comment »

This Saturday, March 6th, will be a workday for Cork and Piewackett. Cork’s new rudder is arriving early this week and will be installed then. On Saturday, we will be finishing up any other work that needs to be done and cleaning the boats. It should be a great opportunity for anybody who needs more work hours.

We’ll meet at 7:30 and all you need to bring is a sack lunch. Tell us at tomorrow’s meeting if you would like to come!

Written by ship502

February 28, 2010 at 17:42

Posted in Notices

Racing Practice Feb 20

with 2 comments

Saturday, February 20th, was the first Dinghy Racing Practice of the year. Two Laser 2’s were used, provided by Ship 468, instead of our usual Lido 14’s. A windward-leeward course was set up on Clear Lake using Piewackett as the starting line committee boat. 

For some, the practice was a first time experience of racing small boats, while for others, the sail was an opportunity to prepare for 2010’s William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup, a major sailing regatta being held this summer in Connecticut. 

The attendees, Eva, Nick, Sofia, Grayson, Alexx, Zach, Jack, and Kelly, took turns either sailing as skipper or crew in the mock races, or helping administer the races from Piewackett with Mr. Blackerby, Mrs. Bryant, and the Blackerby’s sailing canine, Rio. 

doggie!!!! (bottom left)

During the starting sequence of one race, the two boats approached the starting line close to the committee boat side. The crew closest to the committee boat felt that it was not given enough room by the other competing vessel and shouted “Mark-Room!” After the race, there was uncertainty about what the rules concerning mark roundings actually entailed and whether any rules would have actually been broken (had this been a real race). After reviewing the official racing rules handbook, I found that Rule 18.2 states: 

“18.2 Giving Mark-Room 

(a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give 

The inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies. 

(b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches 

the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter 

give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead 

when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that 

moment shall thereafter give her mark-room. 

(c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 

18.2(b), she shall continue to do so even if later an 

overlap is broken or a new overlap begins. However,  

if either boat passes head to wind or if the boat entitled 

to mark-room leaves the zone, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply.  

(d) If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or 

broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she 

did not. 

(e) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern 

and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has 

been unable to give mark-room, she is not required 

to give it.” 

*However, it has been brought to my attention (see comments) that this rule doesn’t apply at the starting line of a race. So neither of the boats had to give the other mark room.*

 You can find the full, current edition racing rules on the web. I can’t really link to it, but you can find it if you search: “ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012” It’s long, but I suggest looking at pages 2-3, which show all of the start sequence flags, and 13-33, which detail the most common rules. (Did anyone else find it weird that they still refer to boats as “she’s”?)

At the end of the practice, Piewackett raised and stowed its anchor, retrieved the giant, orange windward mark, and followed the two Lasers back to Lakewood marina. While de-rigging the two Laser 2’s, the end of one of the boats’ main halyard (which was not secured and did not have a stopper knot) was accidently pulled into the mast, where it could not be retrieved. Part of the following Monday meeting was spent rethreading the halyard through the mast. Now that the Laser 2 mast is good as new, it is ready to be returned to Ship 468. The next racing practice will be held on March 20th and we expect to use the Lido 14’s. 

Also, for those of you who came to the practice, remember to bring some money to the Monday meeting to pay Mr. Blackerby and Mrs. Bryant for Saturday’s pizza dinner. Thanks to Mr. Blackerby for providing all of the photos.

written and posted by Kelly

Written by ship502

February 27, 2010 at 15:28

Posted in Event Minutes, Minutes

Tagged with , ,

Feb 22 Program: Compass- Given by Kim

leave a comment »

Monday’s program was about boxing the compass in degrees and in “cardinal and ordinal and beyond” directions.

Also at the meeting, the youth members had time to rethread the halyard through the Laser 2 mast. The halyard came out during last Saturday’s racing practice; more details will be posted later.

Written by ship502

February 23, 2010 at 16:21

Posted in Meeting Minutes