Training Wheels

It’s an unusually hot day today in Newport Beach. 90 degrees in October is quite uncommon. Not a cloud in the sky and I planned on doing some harbor cruising. Got a text from KJ that he can go out so we decided on an ocean cruise! Just the thing to cure my open water anxiety. I laugh to myself about how I have this mental block where I get nervous about leaving the harbor. Everyone I have talked to says trust the boat and the open water should be easier and far more relaxing than tacking in the harbor like I have been doing for the past few months. I have just made much more of it than it should be. It’s funny how the mind works. When I was a small kid my older brother took the training wheels off my bike. I thought he had lost his mind. I think I remember tears streaming down my face at the thought of not having those training wheels there. I was actually a daredevil on a bike. Going off jumps, wheelies, even hard the playing cards in the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle. All with training wheels. Lol. So my brother told me he was going to hold on to the bike and run next to it. He did for the first 10 yards or so. I told him not to let go and I pedaled. It was so easy I just knew he was there still until I looked. He was gone and I had pedaled a half a block on my own. My training wheels were off and the freedom I felt was amazing. I was a big kid now. No training wheels needed! So time for Cuajota to lose her training wheels. Today is the day. Time for the this sailing kid to grow up.

Open Water Anxiety

I officially have Open Water Anxiety. I will call it OWA from here on. Everytime I get near the open water of the Pacific Ocean, I get this fear. What am I afraid of? It’s just water right? I mean there are no sea monsters that are going to swallow up The Cuajota. The boat itself is as solid as they come. Its in amazing shape and can handle a lot more than I can, so why am I afraid of 2-5 foot waves and 15 knot winds? I DONT KNOW! I think I need to get out there with an experienced sailor to show me the ropes so to speak and for me to be comfortable out there. I have been out in the Ocean in a few different types of watercraft. From large boats in the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco bay to ski boats in various lakes to Jet Skis in the Atlantic Ocean, but before July, I had never really been on a sailboat. In the last 6 weeks not only have I learned to sail a boat reasonably well but I have also done a number of singlehanded sailing trips in the harbor.  The one thing I have heard that sticks out is to trust your boat.  In the boat I have extreme confidence.  Its been well taken care of by the previous owners and its been gone through and its VERY solid.  It can handle a lot more than me.  So I need to trust that it will bring me back.  So my next goal…Open Water!

Low Speed Adrenalin Rush!

Just finished a singlehanded sail around the harbor. I got back in my car when I was done and thought wow…what a rush! I have head that same feeling before, but it was in a very different environment. Doing 135 mph on a Ninja ZX-6R. Check. Doing 165 in a Porsche Carrera 4. Check. Doing 5 mph in a boat. WHAT? How is it that I can get that same feeling or even a better one from such a low speed experience? I have put a lot of thought to it and I still can’t figure it out. Its the same reason that the Vikings wanted to be buried at sea. The same reason people live on boats and sail the world. There is something thats magical when you are out in the water and there is no motor and the boat is moving along in the wind. Is it adrenalin or is it zen? Yes maybe zen is more accurate. That state of mind where you are at one with your environment and at peace with the world. Where you and your boat are both working in unison to move through the wind. Where your mind is in the moment and you don’t have a care in the world. Sailing is one of the few activities I have done where 100% of my conscious mind is focused on the activity. All my senses are taking in the environment as I analyze the wind, water and the surroundings looking for any clues that may help me squeeze another half of knot of speed out of the current conditions. My mind has let go completely the stresses of the regular world. The utility bills don’t exist. I don’t care when the new iPhone is coming out. I don’t care that I will be at work tomorrow morning at 8 am. The only thing I am focused on is the windex showing me the direction the wind is coming from and how my sails are trimmed. This is bliss.

Sunset in Newport Beach

Took the boat out for a little spin and as I was going back to the shore I decided to snap a few pictures.  This are my first official, non phone pics…Enjoy.  She is pretty photogenic!

cuajota, sunset, newport harbor, schock, santana 30, nikon d700cuajota, sunset, newport harbor, schock, santana 30, nikon d700cuajota, sunset, newport harbor, schock, santana 30, nikon d700cuajota, sunset, newport harbor, schock, santana 30, nikon d700cuajota, sunset, newport harbor, schock, santana 30, nikon d700

“What’s that mean!?!?”

cuajota, santana 30, schock, newport beach

The name Cuajota…whats it mean? (pronounced kwa-hoe-ta)

I have been asked about the name, so I’ll address it here….

Cuajota means nothing actually from what I have been able to find.  What I have been told and I am going to run with this because it works for me…

Cuajota is cuban slang for “The four J’s”.  The original owner was a Cuban doctor whose wife and 2 kids first names as well as his own first name all began with the letter J…Works for me because in my family, we had 4 J’s as well.  My Mom, Dad, me and my sister.  My wifes name begins with J and her family has like 7…I said pick your four favorite…lol!  If anyone has a clue of what it actually means…drop me a line or leave a comment and let me know!

We thought about changing the name, but according to sea lore, its bad luck to change the name of a boat unless you do a pretty elaborate procedure.  After thinking for weeks about a new name, and people from work giving me some very colorful ideas (lol) I have grown to like the current name…its interesting, colorful, and unique.  Besides, how many boats named Serenity, Serendipity, Angel, Second Wind, Summer Wind, Wind Dancer, etc. can there be?!

Another Singlehanded Sail…3rd times a charm!

View of the Pacific Ocean from the cockpit of Cuajota.

Wind was up today and I took the boat out.  The conditions were not as smooth as yesterday and I was moving much faster and handling bigger wind. I got turned around by the wind at the mooring but once I had the sails up it was awesome!  The more I am on the boat the more I understand how it moves and the feeling of a heeled boat and now that I am used to the boat heeling I almost can’t get enough!  When I felt it heel a bit and it picked up speed I got a huge grin on my face. Had some great jibes and tacks. I’m having a blast sailing!  3 singlehanded sails 3 days in a row!  A month ago I had never sailed. Hoping to do some ocean sailing soon. All 3 of these sails were inside the harbor although I went all the way to the end of the harbor and could see the ocean!  I am taking things nice and slow and not getting over my head.  I plan on getting into open water soon, but not solo at first so I will need the help of the wife and maybe KJ to get it out into open water and really see how things feel in the bigger waves and bigger winds.  Looking forward to it!

Here is the track from todays sail:

2nd Single Handed Sail – A Piece of Cake!

Just got back from my 2nd solo sail…This was NICE!  The first one was a bit un-nerving….I was nervous and super cautious.  Today was much better.  I was more calm, didn’t do a few of the bonehead things I did and when I got into some trouble, I figured it out!  Wind wasn’t quite as strong as yesterday, so it was pretty easy and calm…although there were more boats…mostly powerboats and electrics so I had more to avoid.  About half way through my sail I decided to play with the traveler…WOW.  Made a huge difference!  Move it towards the wind and the boat just powered up!  I also got used to my tell tales and my windex and just how the boat generally responds to certain things!  I was tacking and a guy in an electric duffy with his family was to my port side.  I tacked near him, not close just nearby…he says, “wow look at that guy he is tacking all by himself!”.  I also ran into my private sailing instructor while he was giving a Harbor 20 lesson…lol…great day!  The only thing that puzzled me and I THINK I have figured it out was the boat was getting pushed sideways by the wind and the steering was gone…I was trying to go from jibing downwind and turn around and start tacking upwind.  I did a 270 and the jib filled, but started pushing the boat sideways…The tiller was unresponsive….I eased the jib and it was fine…I was puzzled so I did the same thing again and got the same result…then I did it a 3rd time and no issues the boat responded as I expected…I think I was 90 degrees to the wind and thats why? Instead of more like 45?  I’ll read up and figure it out….

Here is the GPS track of the sail:

Single Handed!

Today I did my first single handed sail!  I decided that I was getting comfortable handling the boat and I wanted to get used to doing everything.   Got off work at 5 and the wind seemed like it was pretty good so I shot down to the harbor and started getting the boat ready.  Previous owner was down there working on his new boat and said go for it!  So I motored to the turnaround, pointed it into the wind and raised the main then unfurled the jib…BAM I’m sailing!  It was a pretty uneventful sail at about 6 knots, which at times seemed like 30…lol.  Its the heaviest wind I’ve been out in on my boat.  I had a sailing lesson in a tad bit higher winds, but that was in a harbor 20.  I was (and still am) concerned with a sudden gust pushing me into things and or over…I know I kept telling myself that this wind is nothing, probably 11-15 knot winds.  I just kept the jib sheet handy and when the heel angle got uncomfortable, I eased it and it righted itself, or I steered into the wind and that took care of it as well.  I was out about 90 minutes then I came back as it was getting dark.  I pulled into the turnaround area under motor with the jib furled and the main still up, and lowered the main….then moored.  I feel pretty proud of myself.  A month ago I had never sailed in my life.  Now I am able to single hand a 30 foot yacht!!!  Sure it wasn’t an ocean voyage and was just in the harbor, but its a pretty good feeling.  I have some time off this week so I’ll be out ALOT over the next 10 days…..In fact, I’ll be out most of the day tomorrow!

Here is the GPS track of todays sail:

Our First Sail!

cuajota, sailing, newport beach
Newport harbor at sunset from the deck of Cuajota.

After going out with KJ a few times, and a few private lessons, It was time to go out on our own!  We pulled up to the dock and KJ watched as I prepped the boat.  I did it perfectly and we were ready to cast off!  Raised the main, a push from the dock and I unfurled the jib and we were sailing…slow but sailing.  Jackie says, “We’re drifting…”, I corrected her and said the the sails were full of air and we were being usher in the right direction, we were sailing.  We went downwind and it was ok…I gave her some tips for steering as I was going to be on the sheets for tacking and jibing.  We were going fairly slow downwind and then it started to pick up, we were able to make the boat move.  We turned around near the end of the harbor and tacked back.  GREAT sail!  Felt great to be able to turn the motor off and be under sail on our own!


Jackie at the bow motoring back to the mooring after our first sail.

Dropping Off the Genoa at North Sails

One amazing thing I am noticing is that because Newport Beach is probably the hotbed of sailboats and yachts, everything I need for the boat can be found locally.  I dropped off the sail it North Sails which is makes sails for everyone and all the major racing boats and organizations.  My sails are North Sails sails so I looked it up and there is a factory repair center 10 minutes away.  I dropped the sail off and they asked when I wanted it back…I said tomorrow, they said ok…tomorrow at noon!  WOW thats service!  I won’t even put up the 155, no need…The 135 will be done tomorrow.  Way to go North Sails!