Last weekend Dave and I took our last class, ASA 104. We drove up Friday afternoon to Washburn, WI, which took a little over 4 hours. We met the instuctor for dinner at a small cafe, then back to the boat to get set up for the weekend and meet the other student. In the morning we had strong winds coming from the North. Lookng at the radar we saw a storm heading our way so we stayed at the dock till it passed over us, and did the classrooom part of the the class. As we looked to head out, the 30 mph winds had the boat tight on the dock. The boat is hard to turn when motoring in the harbor, so we spent some time on how best to get out without hitting the sea wall after pulling out of the dock.
In the end, the instuctor had us with 4 lines (ropes) on the boat as we got ready to back out. One of the lines ran from the front port side of the boat, around the front of the boat to the aft of the boat, and around the dock to the other side, then back to the starting point on the bow of the boat. In other words, there was a bunch of rope that looped from the front of the boat down the length of the boat, and then around the dock. The idea was to use the rope to stop the boat from hitting the sea wall, which was just South of our dock. Dave was at the helm. Because of the wind, the boat was tight on the bumpers on the dock. Backing up and pulling out of the dock was going ok at first. But after we had just cleared the dock, I saw that the long rope had snagged on the dock. Dave had started to move forward at that point, and I was able to get the line off the boat, but that meant we had about 70' of rope that we or another boat could get caught in their prop. Luckily a guy was at the dock and pulled it in. Now to get out on Lake Superior.
After leaving the shelter of the habor the waves got higher as we headed out to the lake. Becuase of the weather, all of us had harnesses on and were tethered in. As best as we could tell, we had about 8-10 feet waves with some bigger, plus we headed almost straight in to the 30 mph winds. The instuctor wanted all the dock lines removed and stowed. There was one on the very front of the bow. I crawled on my hands and knees to remove it.
The bow was moving up and down about 15' so when the boat was rocking downwards, the deck of the boat was nearly level with the water. After a number of tries we decided to let it be. We had pre-reefed (dropped the sail part-way down the mast) the main sail to the 3rd reefing point, but the main line to raise the sail was clipped to one of the side rails. The main boom is high on this boat compared to Dave's, so the top of the sail when all of the way down can't be reached from the deck. The mast does have fold down steps to climb up and connect the line. So up on the steps I went, and lashed myself the the mast. To make the connection I faced the aft on the front side of the mast and reached around. In the somewhat short time up there, the pitching of the boat caused the mast to slam into my chest repeatedly.
Now we are ready to sail. Dave is still at the helm. The wind pushes us so the wind and the waves are on the starboard side, and even with the wheel hard over, we are not able to turn into the wind. After a little debate between Dave and the instructor on why, we dropped sail and motored the rest of the day. We got to Bayfeild after 5 plus hours going less than 1.5 knots per hour. (At the same engine speed on Sunday, we were over 6 knots per hour.) We took turns at the helm, and simply standing behind the wheel and riding the waves was a lot of work.
In Bayfield, I was able to dock the boat just fine. By this time the wind had calmed down some, and the protection of the habor made the docking a lot easier. The original plan was to anchor off one of the islands but the weather forecast kept changing. After a short relax, the instructor started making dinner for the rest of us. I ended up falling asleep sitting at the table and woke with a plate of food sitting in front of me for a little while. All four of us were completely exhausted from the day. Shortly after dinner, most of us curled up and fell asleep. At least one of the lights got left on all night. It was nearly 8:00 a.m. before I got out of bed, and hadn't slept well the three previous nights. So eleven hours of sleep was nice.
Dave and I then headed up to one of the cafes in Bayfield, WI and got a real breakfast and coffee. About 9:30 a.m. all four of us were ready to head out. The water was nearly like glass with some light winds. We practiced a number of man overboard drills and were able to do some sailing, before heading back towards Washburn. We also did some anchoring with two anchors. After that the wind had died down to nearly nothing. So we motored the rest of the way back.
We pulled up to the gas dock and refueled, and had the waste tank pumped out. After a fair amount of discussion with the other student on how to back off the dock, he did end up clipping the dock with the anchor. He backed the rest of the way out to the lake, where I took over. In order to re-dock the boat, I had to pull in and do a 180-degree turn with the boat. It's pretty tight quarters with this size of boat (35'). I didn't quite listen to the instructor's instructions on how to dock the boat, but was able to pull it in and dock it just fine. I found out later that the other student was in a similar class and both times while docking, hit the dock boxes with the boat.
The instructor asked us whether we wanted to take the test Saturday evening or after we docked on Sunday. Neither Dave nor I were sure what parts of the book we were supposed to study. I had not looked at the book since the 103 class over a month ago, so we opted to take the test on Sunday afternoon with the plan of reading on Saturday night. Dave was able to do a little bit of reading, but I couldn't keep my eyes open. Before starting the test I was completely prepared to fail it, thinking I could re-take the test in a couple of weeks. The class requires a grade of 80% to pass the written test. I ended up getting 80%. Dave fared a little better, but at the end of the day we both passed.
One of the things the instructor pushed regarding the Belize trip was that we have an extra hand for the stretch across the Gulf of Mexico, so Dave ordered an auto-pilot to assist the two of us. Lori and I will be on the boat this coming weekend to do more work and more sailing. Dave will be off racing.