I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help crew "Forgiveness", which is a 40' J-120, for the first day of SCYA 2018 Mid-Winter Regatta. For last years regatta, I traveled all the way to San Diego to crew a 10M Flying Tiger named "Ruckus". This year I only had to drive to Marina Del Rey.
The weather was gorgeous. Temperature was in the mid-to-upper 70's with clear skies. Wind was a steady 5-7 kts with occassional gusts to 10-12 kts. Seas were pretty calm, with little to no chop. All-in-all a beautiful day on the water.
I met the crew shortly after 10:30am. Skipper Scott manned the helm and had one of his most experienced crew, Lemy, assign positions. The Joe's were to handle the headsail, there was another crewman named Joe. Kiki did a bit of everything since she had a decent amount of experience but mainly focused on Pit. Lemy took on the bow while Rutter handled the main. We were a little short-handed so we all helped out where we were needed and got to experience a little of everything.
We motored out of the harbor towards the race area. As we went past the jetty into open ocean we raised our mainsail. Now motorsailing, we went over our plans for different procedures once more. All lines were flaked, winches had handles nearby, and the spinnaker sail was ready below. It's time to race!
We were supposed to have 2 or 3 races. Instead we had 4. Our boat wasn't 100% sure on why but we know there was some confusion due to an error by the race committee getting the times for the other 2 boats in our class during race 2. Fortunately, that is something that I don't have to worry about. I will leave that to the Organizing Authority.
I'm not 100% on how the scoring goes. These weren't 1 design races so adjustments to finish times are made depending on the rating of each boat. I also didn't go out for the second days races so am unsure how we finished overall. But, win or lose, it was a great time and I look forward to more as the sailing season gets into gear!
A big thanks goes out to Capt Scott of the Forgiveness for taking me aboard for the day and to Rutter for making the introduction. Another big thanks to the rest of the crew. Lemy, Kiki, and Joe were great to work with and they helped me out during race 4 as my pain was increasing making it tough to grind the winch. They did so without complaint and were very understanding. I wouldn't hesitate to sail with any of them again as they were great teammates.
I also want to give a huge thanks to the Warrior Sailing Program. Without the training they gave me at the Basic Sailing Camp of 2016 in San Diego I would not have had the skills or the confidence to hop on a boat and go racing. They have also been working to get more sailing opportunities on the west coast. Because of all of that hard work I and many others have been able to continue progressing as sailors. I have personally had the chance to go aboard a few different boats, experienced both racing (Ruckus/Bravura/Forgiveness) and cruising (S/V Happy Together) and have met some really amazing people.
While I definitely encourage and welcome donations to my Project through my GoFundMe page (Sorry, not tax-deductible), I hope you will also consider donating to the Warrior Sailing Program (Tax-Deductible!)! You can also show your support by purchasing Warrior Sailing Program apparel through Coral Reef Sailing Apparel. The incredible group of people at the Warrior Sailing Program are helping out other veterans like me and I can't thank them enough.
Things have been moving along with the project. I believe I may have "finalized" my design, though I've been told that my build will evolve a little as I progress and I've accepted that. The "final" design will at least give me a road map. I've also been doing a lot of work on the web site to break up the wall of text hitting you. But this post isn't really about my project.
I wanted to just give a quick thank you to the Warrior Sailing Program by helping to spread awareness of their program and how they helped me. And now it's made easier because I can just link to a segment from NBC Nightly News where they highlighted this wonderful program!
Please check out this segment
Then please head on over to Warrior Sailing Program and donate!
In June of 2016 I attended a basic sailing camp for disabled veterans in San Diego, CA. It was put on by the Warrior Sailing Program with generous support from the yacht club it was held at, San Diego Yacht Club, and another local club, Southwestern Yacht Club. Everyone with the warrior sailing program(coaches and staff) and both yacht clubs were extremely friendly and inviting. They went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and a part of the group. Just an amazing group of people.
We started with classroom instruction. We learned a lot thanks to Ben's drawings and the input from the rest of the coaches. We also hit the water in j-22 sailboats provided by SDYC. My crew was all Navy with Guy Mossman as our coach. We kicked butt and led most of the races. However, the final race was a poker run. While we did finish first, we did not have the winning hand. But we had a great time nonetheless.
This was my introduction to sailing. I had been on a few small boats prior to this, but mainly ski boats on a lake. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This was a transformative camp for me. My love for the ocean, through surfing and going to the beach growing up, was magnified by the freedom I felt while in command. I found a mode of transportation that did not leave me with debilitating pain. It was wonderful.
But it was also a lot of work managing jib or main sail. It intensified my pain more than if I had just worked the tiller. It was still very much worth it, but if I work the lines instead of just drive I'm left in pain which means I can only do this activity sparingly. Unfortunately that sort of makes joining someone's crew difficult. But I've had a few opportunities that were set up with Warrior Sailing Program help and the one I could make it to was awesome. (Thanks again Brian and the crew of Ruckus, a 10m Flying Tiger out of Dana Point, for taking me along. It was an excellent time!)
I strongly encourage other veterans to give this program a shot and everyone else to consider donating to this wonderful organization. You won't regret it!