Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marty Nakashian - Volunteer,Teacher and Navigator

I first met Marty Nakashian in the spring of 1998.  I was CBI's new Program Director and feeling some sense of trepidation as I tried to figure out how CBI worked.  It was and is a unique mixture of personalities worthy of some literary description far beyond my skills.  Marty epitomized much of what makes CBI special. Here are a few of my recollections. 

On Friday nights Marty set up the grill, put on the apron and cooked burgers and dogs for everyone at sunset.  He'd charge enough money to cover the cost but no more.  Then on Saturday or Sunday if the weather was nice he'd set up an information table in front of the boathouse.  He would answer questions all afternoon managing to  communicate a sense of love for sailing on the Charles and CBI.  Marty helped CBI's harbor trips by using computer programs to create tide charts for the purposes of trip planning.  This was before the time of the internet explosion.  I don't know the exact time frame but Marty served on CBI's board of directors for many years. Marty may have been most renowned for his navigation classes.  Marty taught two navigation classes at CBI over many decades, Coastal Piloting, and Celestial Navigation.  Anyone who took one of these courses was in for a treat.  Marty was a brilliant teacher.  He distilled the complex into the easy to understand. I can honestly say he made many Charles River Mercury sailors into navigators.  Marty maintained the compass rose on the dock next to the dock house.  When the dock was replaced in the winter of 2010-2011, Marty volunteered to paint a new compass rose  for CBI.  Today you can see the last compass rose Marty painted.   It's quite beautiful.  I always find something comforting in navigational things such as charts and compass roses. They orient the universe. They help people find their way. In many ways in life Marty helped CBI find it's way.  The family of Marty Nakashian has requested that donations in memory of Marty may be donated to CBI for the purpose of maintaining his compass rose.  It will be comforting to know that Marty will be keeping CBI on course in the future.


Monday, July 9, 2012

How to dock when the breeze is up and blowing from the water towards CBI

A couple of Sunday's ago I had an opportunity to help some folks get back to the dock.  Their problem was that the wind was blowing directly onto the dock.  This meant that even when they let their sail out all the way and turned their boat alongside the dock, the sail was still catching the wind and they weren't slowing down.  This meant a landing more resembling  crashing into another boat already secured to the dock.  If you can't bring your boat to a stop in breeze then your dockings will always be crash landings.  Is this just fate that we accept and stoically endure or is there a better way? I am happy to say that there is clearly a better way which is easy to execute.

Here are the easy to follow steps.

1) Before you pass the tip of the island have your halyard ready to run free and loosen your boom vang a bit.

2) As soon as you pass the tip of the island (hopefully 10 to 12 boatlengths from the island - let's say mostly in front of the dock house)  push your tiller toward your sail hard and go "head-to-wind".  You are essentially going into"irons". You are looking sharp now! Lower your sail all the way down.  You have plenty of time so just make it neat enough so you can steer using the tiller without the boom blocking it's range of motion.

3) You now find yourself with no sail up, practically dead in the water, and the wind is blowing your boat to the dock (Isn't that where you are trying to get to?).  You will be pleasantly surprised that your boat will very soon have enough way on so you can steer. Aim for the best parking space you can find. The beauty of this is that no matter where your boat finds the dock, it will be a gentle engagement - No Damage!  Even if you bump into another boat it will will be gentle as well.

4) If you are skeptical and would like to see this in action then come down to CBI on a late Sunday morning when the breeze is piping up out of the west (Cambridge to Boston).  CBI's Tiller Club racers always take a break.  They sail back to CBI en masse.  You will see all of them dropping their sails before landing.  They are racers and  do it with a bit more finesse than I just described.  However, the fundamental technique is the same. When I see someone executing a docking like this in breeze I know they have some miles under their keel..