Monday, June 29, 2009

Shakedown Cruise

The owner of Hinuma Yacht Harbor, Mr. Hakuta, offered to accompany us on our first sail so that he could give us some advice on sailing in general and on conducting operations at Hinuma Yacht Harbor in particular. He also wanted to make sure I had control of the boat and could bring it into the dock without problems.

Saturday turned out to be a sunny if a bit hazy and humid day. The winds at Hinuma don't pick up until late morning, so we agreed to be ready to launch at 10:30. We arrived about 9:40 so as to have time to prepare Bluesette.

The wind was very light still, but there was enough to get under way. Ideal for the first time out really.

Here is Bluesette on her "sendai" ready for launch. The man on the right is Tadanori Hakuta, who built the yacht harbor 37 years ago. On the left is his son. Mrs. Hakuta runs the office up in the clubhouse.

In the picture above, the rudder is shown on the boat, but we removed it so we wouldn't have to worry about it striking the ground during launch - it easily slid back into its bracket after the boat was on the water. The sails were ready to raise.

Walking Bluesette to the water. The bowline and a line on the sendai are attached to a winch.

She floats! Where's the champagne and brass band? OK, a Yebesu beer and a trombone player?

Bluesette was walked out to a lower portion of the dock where we boarded, attached the rudder and raised the sails.

I don't usually sit this far aft - I was just posing for the camera

K and I spent about an hour sailing with Mr. Hakuta. Soon the wind picked up a bit and gave us some speed. Other sailboats - Sea Hoppers and Lasers - took to the water as well. This was K's first time sailing and she learned to handle the jib. I got good sailing advice from Mr. Hakuta and we practiced docking.

Then K and I dropped Hakuta-san off and went out on our own. Around noon, the wind was up to five or so knots and K was surprised at how fast Bluesette could go. Nice breeze, but not too much for our first day out. It was a good "shakedown" cruise and we learned of a number things we need to do differently and adjustments that are needed on the boat. Several fishing boats were out too and no doubt having a good day as we saw a lot of fish of varying sizes jumping out of the water - bora (striped mullet) and suzuki (a kind of sea bass). Due to the close proximity to the ocean, lake Hinuma has a mix of both freshwater and saltwater fish.

K found out that sailing is fun! - and sometimes wet: in addition to managing the jib, she learned to use the bailing bucket that I made from a laundry detergent bottle and which can be seen in the picture.

We decided to take a lunch break, so returned to the dock. Easier said than done as the wind direction was not as favorable as it had been earlier. Hinuma is a very shallow lake - average depth 2 meters (about 6 1/2 feet) and at the dock only about 1 meter (39 inches). With the centerboard down, Bluesette draws 53 inches (1.35 meters). That means we have to raise the centerboard about half way in order to be sure of clearing the bottom. The problem is that when we do that, the boat tends to drift sideways, making maneuvering to the dock a little tricky. Not impossible, just something to practice. And as Hakuta-san pointed out, the water is only 1 meter deep, so if all else fails, one can lower the sails, jump in the water, and WALK the boat in!

We left Bluesette tied up at the end of the dock and went over to Mama's Kitchen (the restaurant described in the post "Finding A Home"). You may not believe this, but I swear it is the truth: When we walked into Mama's Kitchen there was a nice CD playing featuring a female jazz vocalist...

The song? Bluesette! Coincidence? You decide.

K had a ham sandwich on a bagel, I opted for cold angel hair pasta with basil. We both got to use the salad bar and my lunch came with this dessert, which we shared:

Drinks included as well. The bill only came to ¥1700. I'm afraid it damaged my waistline more than my wallet.

Then it was back to the boat for more sailing. We checked in at office and told them we would be back around 15:00. This would allow them to get the sendai ready when we came back, or come looking for us if we didn't. Actually, one of the great things about the club is that they have a log book for boaters to leave a plan on where they will be going and when they expect to return. Sort of like the flight plans I used to phone into the FAA as a pilot. The club house has an excellent view of the lake, and Hakuta-san has binoculars with which he scans the lake. If he sees someone coming in, he goes down to the ramp, or if he sees someone in trouble, he'll come out on a PWC (jet ski) or another power boat to render assistance.

Our caps say "Santa Barbara Yacht Club" - where I sailed a Lido as a kid. (Thanks to my sisters for those.)

The wind was still good and there was a race on with several Lasers, practicing for official Laser National races to be held next weekend. (There are 3 types of Laser sailboats actually, and can't tell them apart easily unless they are side by side.)

We had our share of mistakes and minor mishaps, but that's what a shakedown sail is all about.
Mostly, we just had fun.

We docked the boat at 15:00 and got her ready to be pulled out of the water. Hakuta-san put the sendai on the winch while his son went to get Bluesette.

Back on dry land. Good timing. By the time we got her ashore, the wind had died down again.

Do I look happy? We stowed the sails, then gave Bluesette a shower and wiped her down. After putting her back in her parking space, we took the mast down. Then K went for a shower and change while I finished drying the boat, putting everything away, putting on the cover and tying the boat down.

After my shower, we enjoyed a cool drink in the clubhouse - orange juice for K, mugicha for me (barley tea - my favorite) - and chatted with the Hakutas about our day before heading for home.

Until next, sweet sailing.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, that looks like a very sweet lake with great conditions for sailing. Love the photos too - how do you make sure the camera isn't getting wet?


Pandabonium said...

MF - thanks. not worried about the camera because it's waterproof to a depth of 4 meters. Its a small Pentax Optio W60.

ladybug said...

You sure look happy Panda! You make it look so fun and easy! It's nice that the Harbor owners are there to help you every step of the way...not so here (esp the public parks/rivers). Also good since the lake is so shallow, sounds like it certainly does take a little extra maneovering to get it in and out...does the lake ever get higher/lower?

Crip said...

Congratulations! She looks lovely, and it sounds like you both had fun (which is what sailing's all about, lest we forget!)
And "Bluesette" playing in Mama's Kitchen. Coincidence? Nah. Synchronicity if ever there was :-)

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Just Beautiful! You look so happy Panda...About time there may be a blue horizon for us all. Thanks for the linky, love the new blog.

Cheri said...

Wish Derek could see the new boat. Hope you didn't knock K into the drink. (Derek did this to us our first time out in a little cat on Lake Tahoe!) Looks like a lot of fun! Hope you get many happy sailing days! Love, C&M

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - I'm really happy with the boat and the harbor/club. The lake's water level does fluctuate, but only about 30cm, mostly due to spring rains which come into the lake faster than it can drain to the ocean.

Crip - thank you. It's been a long journey to get her on the water, but well worth it. Synchronicity - I think so too.

Hope - thank you for visiting. good luck with your knee operation. I hope it brings you renewed mobility and opportunities for fun activities. Take care.

Cheri & M - I wish Derek could have seen it too. I didn't make K go for a swim, just managed to get a little water over the rail. A cat on Lake Tahoe sounds like good fun! Take care.

HappySurfer said...

That was fun, our maiden voyage. hehe.. Thanks for taking us along..

Looks like you picked the right boat club - great support and all. Surprised that the lake is that shallow.

What a coincidence that Bluesette came on... Strange and good things happen sometimes..

Pandabonium said...

HppySurfer - thank you for coming aboard. We're pleased with the choice of club. "Hinuma" means "dried up swamp"! It's a kind of estuary where several small rivers meet and then empty into the ocean, which is why it is so shallow. The music was quite a happy surprise.

Don Snabulus said...

That looks like a ton of fun! I wish there were more sailboats around here and fewer cabin cruisers and SeaDoos. The river sounds like the raceway on many days.

Bluesette is a gorgeous craft and the song playing after the outing. Amazing!

Pandabonium said...

Don - thank you. fun is what it's all about. I don't like those "seadoos" either- annoying. For a more peaceful scene, you might check out the Willamette Sailing Club. They have a couple hundred sailboats over there including 23 Lido 14s.

nzm said...


Makes me realise how much I miss sailing my Hobie.

Bluesette playing in the cafe? A clear indication that all is as it should be, and that you've chosen the right boat, name and yacht club!

Pandabonium said...

NZM - Thanks. - You should rent a boat sometime and get back out on the water. Here's a video of a Kiwi in Japan sailing a Narca 5.2 catamaran on lake Nojiri, near Nagano:

bonnie said...

Hooray! Congratulations!

Pandabonium said...

Thanks, Bonnie.
Lots of Lasers at the club by the way.