Day 2 in Newport

Great visit from our long time friends, Susan, Nick and Gracie the wonder dog. Nick helped Al sail AlyKat from Fort Lauderdale to Newport RI in 2013. Great to have him back onboard!  Safe travels back south.

Nick Peirson

Tuesday was a lovely day in Newport. It was probably the last day of “summer” with a high of 78, so we decided to stay another day. We went for a great sail with Kia and Al Girard on AlyKat! This was Gracie’s first sail on a big boat.

Relaxing on a bean bag on the netting.

Kia and Al getting ready to raise the sail.

Enjoying cocktails and watching a great sunset on the mooring in Newport harbor.

We ended the evening with Al grilling some great steaks!

Today we are headed to Greenpoint on Long Island.

We have decided to go slow for a while as we will need to leave the boat in a week or so for a few days and go to New Hampshire for Tom Tobey’s funeral.

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Sheet not a rope
Catamaran, Learn to Sail, Sailing Terminology

Nautical Terms — The Basics (Part 1)

Part 1 of a Learn to Sail Series

Have you ever wondered why boating and sailing have so many specialty words instead of using the non-boating words that could easily be used and understood everyone? Is it just to separate the boaters from the non boaters or are there any other reasons for this lingo?

As I did not grow up with English as my first language and only used to sail on an Optimist, most of these words are relatively new to me as well.  Today is a quiet rainy day on the AlyKat, so I’m sitting at the galley table and taking some time to Google sailing terms and learn where they originated from. I will start with the most common ones first.

Areas on Board

Starboard — this is the right side of the boat. The word comes from the Vikings who called it Styrbord meaning Steering Board. They steered the boat from the right side. Styrbord is still what it is called in Swedish.

Port — is the left side of the boat when facing forward.  Boats usually docked on this side so this was the side closest to port. I think the best way to remember which is which is what my friend Lori said “Port and Left both have 4 letters”.

Bow — This is the front of the boat. The term refers to boats bowing over the sea.

Stern — is the back of the boat. It is short for sternpost which is the end of the boat. Not sure anyone knows about a sternpost but just know that the back is the Stern.

Aft — when you are moving from the bow toward the stern you are going aft. Not sure where that comes from. Please chime in on the comments if you do!

Head — non-boaters would refer to this as the bathroom, toilet, or WC. Apparently the word comes from the fact that the toilet used to be up front in the boat, where the seas could wash it clean.

Galley — is the kitchen in the boat. The term is supposedly a shortened version of gallery.  The meals used to me cooked on a stone gallery in the middle of the boat.

Learning the (Sailing) Ropes

Sun on the catamaran sails
Halyards are used to hoist the sails

There are a lot of different names for the various ropes that are on a sailboat. The same rope has different names depending on what it is used for. Here are a few examples. The basic term rope is just the materials that it is made of. Once the specific rope has a use it becomes a line. And depending on their use the lines have different names.

Halyard is the line that runs up the mast. Sheets are the lines that are used to adjust the sail.  Depending on what sail it adjusts the name changes as well. It is a Mainsheet if it adjusts the mainsail and a Jibsheet if it adjust the jib (the triangular sail in front of the mainsail). And if you are heading to a dock you use the Dock lines to tie up your boat.

Fun trivia fact: the only rope on a boat that is called a rope is the rope that is used to ring the ship’s bell.

There are many, many other terms as well as saying that are derived from boating and sailing such as “Three Sheets to the Wind” but I will write about those on another rainy day.

Now you know more than I did the first time I stepped onboard AlyKat!

Morning cup of Joe
Kia enjoys a cup of coffee on deck.

I’m First Mate Kia Girard, and I would love to sail with you around Newport. Book a charter on our catamaran, the AlyKat, and see what fun you can have on the water!







Catamaran, Learn to Sail

Learning to Sail: The Asymmetrical Spinnaker

Spoiler Alert: This post has some geeky sailing language. To help all you beginners we’ve put a glossary at the end of this post. (We’re nice like that.)

The asymmetrical spinnaker is our favorite sail.  It is used for sailing downwind and you wouldn’t want to sail a cat without one.  So what is this fancy sail?  It is a spinnaker designed to be deployed typically from a bow sprit or the windward bow of the boat. This is unlike the conventional spinnaker that is symmetrical in shape and sheets are attached to both clews of the sail and designed to be sailed when the wind direction is further aft.

So why are they great on a catamaran? Many cruising cats are a bit heavier with more creature comforts and are happier sailing with a stronger breeze both upwind and downwind. Since on AlyKat we’re not fans of motoring  this sail allows us to sail in lighter breezes and maintain a respectable, if not very fast, speed. Basically in light winds the boat will sail well at 90 degrees apparent wind. As the wind speed increases it is very important to bear off the breeze to 120 degrees for moderate wind and 150-160 degrees for stronger breezes. Otherwise you can overstress the spinnaker and run the risk of it self destructing.

Typical speeds in our boat in lighter winds, say 8-10 knots, sailing at 90 degrees apparent wind, we will sail between 6-7.5 knots.  Not bad when most cruising cats will be motoring in this lighter wind.  My wife and I have sailed in 20 plus knots of breeze at 150-160 apparent and reached speeds of 13-14 knots surfing the waves.  It’s very important to make sure you are sailing with your mainsail in this wind as you can always dowse the kite by heading dead downwind and have the mainsail blanket the spinnaker making it easy to drop.  Another import feature when using this sail is to have a retrievable “sock”. This makes it much easier to deploy or dowse the spinnaker. Also, when jibing the spiniker in heavier breeze,  It is helpful to bear off dead down and “sock” the spiniker before completing the jibe.

We save many engine hours by having the bow sprit and asymmetrical spinnaker. It is my favorite sail on the boat and personally would not want to own a cat without one.

Sailing Lingo for the Newbies on Board

  • Asymmetrical Spinnaker: A specialty sail used on racing boats, bridging the performance gap between a genoa, which develops maximum driving force when the apparent wind angle is between 35 and 60 degrees, and a spinnaker, which has maximum power when the apparent wind is between 100 and 140 degrees.
  • Clews: the lower or after corner of a sail.
  • Aft: towards or at the back part of a boat, ship, or airplane
  • Apparent Wind: “Loosely defined, apparent wind is the wind we feel and experience when we are in motion. It’s a combination of the actual wind (true wind) that blows over land and sea and the wind created by our moving forward.” –Sailing Magazine
  • Sock: Not to be confused with “sock-it-to-me,” a sailing sock is a long fabric tube that stores the spinnaker and allows the spinnaker to be deployed and retrieved easily. To “sock the spinnaker” means to put it away.
  • Jibing: “A sailing maneuver where a boat reaching downwind turns its stern through the wind, such that the wind direction changes from one side of the boat to the other.” – Wikipedia
  • Dowse the Kite:  sailing speak for taking down the spinnaker.

America’s Cup Then and Now

Team Oracle
Photo by slgckgc via a Creative Commons License.

Newport, R.I and The America’s Cup are forever linked, as Newport was the venue for over 50 years. The Newport Daily News still carries the news of the America’s Cup races as the cover story on the Sports page. I doubt many other US newspapers do.

Captain Al and Kia are linked to the Cup in very different ways: Continue reading “America’s Cup Then and Now”


Memorial Day Weekend Sail

Catamaran in the sun
Sun and wind in our sails

The sun finally came out on Saturday and we had great guests onboard for a beautiful sail around Newport.  Brenda and Rick were able to watch the beautiful views from the trampoline as the wind moved us forward.  We were not the only ones out at sea taking advantage of the great sailing weather.

After the sail we stayed on our mooring feasting on grilled shish kebabs, salads, burgers, home made rhubarb strawberry pie and a glass of red wine or two.  The sunset was a really beautiful ending to a fun day at sea.  Looking forward to many more this season!

Volvo Ocean Race preview

Volvo Ocean Race Preview

I love the Volvo Ocean Race!  For the 2014 -2015 race I was following and rooting for Team SCA in particular.  I would look at my phone ap first thing in the morning and the last thing at night to find out the latest information.  For the Newport stop over I was able to volunteer at the race village and that was a lot of fun.  I was even entrusted with holding the actual trophy!

First Mate Kia with Race trophy
Kia with Race trophy

We watched the in-port racing and the departure from Newport from AlyKat.  I am hoping for a sunny and warm May of 2018 so that we can enjoy the same upclose viewing with a few guests onboard.

Volvo Ocean Race in Newport 2015
Volvo Ocean Race in Newport 2015

Today when Captain Al and I were on AlyKat cleaning to get her in tip top shape for the season, Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing motored by us on its way back from a practice sail.  Team Vestas  are in Newport for a few more days until they head back across the Atlantic.  Next time they are here will be the 2018 Newport stopover.  Race starts October 2017 — so much fun to follow!


First Sail on AlyKat Watching Laser Racing

We took AlyKat out for a quick sail with some friends and came upon the Newport Laser regatta.  It was fun watching  the racing up close.  Captain Al is an experienced laser racer so he knew where we could watch the race close by without interfering with the regatta itself.  It was a little cool today but it was great being out on the water again.

Watching Laser racing from AlyKat
Watching Laser racing from AlyKat in Newport RI

Spring Cleaning, Catamaran Style

After being in dry dock all winter, we gave AlyKat a nice new coat of paint in preparation for this year’s charter season. It was a bit nippy for outdoor work (especially after spending the winter in Florida), but we survived. She’s now comfortably back at her mooring in Newport harbor. Can’t wait to get back to sailing!

AlyKat gets a paint job
AlyKat get a fresh coat of paint in preparation for Newport charter sailing.
Music, Uncategorized

We Love our Music on AlyKat

Okay. So we’re new to this whole blogging thing, but we decided it would be fun to let our guests get to know us a little bit. There’s no better place to start than with music. One of our favorite things about being on AlyKat is having the chance to drop anchor in the evening, have a glass of wine, and enjoy some good tunes. Being in Newport provides the added advantage of access to fun festivals like Newport Folk and Newport Jazz. Last summer we had the chance to see the fabulous Nora Jones. Check her out.