Westsail motoring with a dog at the helm

  • May 18, 2014 10:44 PM
    Message # 1554408
    So I'm talking to a friend of mine who is a racer on multhulls, and of course he has no respect for the Westsail. One of those guys that knows everything about everything, and throws around Wetsnail all too often, thinks it's still funny...

    Anyway, this guy, Nick, was on Dragonfly, a multihull something or other (I stopped paying attention when he got to "race boat") in a race today (17-MAY-2014, around 2pm) off of Port Townsend, WA. -specifically off of Point Wilson, when they came upon a Westsail (a Kendall in drag he calls them) under power in the middle of the race course.

    At first they were concerned because the only thing they saw moving was the dog sitting at the helm - they thought the owner had fallen overboard. Then they got closer and saw the owner peeking out from the companionway. I guess the boat was doing a meandering course because these guys had to figure out how to get past him, then at one point he came straight at them.

    Nick didn't get the name, but he thinks it was something like Farallon, Santorini, something like that...

    Was anyone out that way that can tell the other side of the story? Just curious.


    Last modified: May 19, 2014 1:30 AM | Anonymous member
  • May 19, 2014 4:51 AM
    Reply # 1554451 on 1554408
    No that was not me out there, but the title of your post reminds me of one of my favorite personal stories of all time.

    Back in the 90s, I owned a Tanzer 27 and sailed it on Sacandaga Lake in New York. I learned a neat trick. I could string a hammock between the mast and the forestay. I could also use a pair of snatch blocks to rig a bridle connecting the tiller to the foredeck. That allowed me to steer the boat while resting in the hammock and while under sail. It was especially fun upwind when 30 degrees of heel would nearly dip my butt in the water.
    I also had a dog who really didn't like the boat or the water. He was afraid to leave the cabin or the cockpit.

    One day I was hailed by a bunch of friends from my volunteer fire department. They were on another boat nearby. From my hammock, I pulled the bridle to veer close to them to say hello. Then I veered off and continued on my way.

    The next day at the fire department, the guys said, "We just have one question for you. How the hell did you teach that dog to steer a sailboat?" Ever since, I smile when I think of my little hoax.  Thanks for reminding me of it.

  • May 20, 2014 11:39 AM
    Reply # 1555219 on 1554408
    I see from an online search that Satori is now in the PNW...maybe it was him?
  • May 20, 2014 4:28 PM
    Reply # 1555360 on 1554408
    That was me and my dog Sasha. Didn't notice a race going on but there was a black catamaran with a group of serious looking dudes in full race gear who at one point very slowly came within ten feet of my drifting boat. The seas were dead calm so I just stopped off the point and let her drift at slack tide.  Please tell them sorry for interrupting their race. I'm not from PT and it wasn't obvious that there was a race going on. Didn't see a mark or committee boat anywhere nearby. It might have been because they were spread so far apart and there wasn't any wind to be had. I even tried to raise the spinnaker but she would not inflate except once after about an hour of drifting.  
    Last modified: May 20, 2014 4:42 PM | Anonymous member
  • May 20, 2014 4:47 PM
    Reply # 1555366 on 1554408
    A friend of mine was at Fort Warden and took a photo of the catamaran that was drifting near me. 

    Scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see the lone boat just sitting out there waiting patiently for winds to get it moving again. :)
    Last modified: May 21, 2014 5:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • May 21, 2014 10:46 AM
    Reply # 1555721 on 1554408
    Yeah, from what I understand these guys are pretty serious about their racing, thus the serious looking guys in their full suits...on a flat calm day. There are basically no amenities on their go-fast boat so they have to be in full suits all the time.

    I am constantly defending the Westsail's abilities to Nick, who is constantly dissing them. I am looking forward to the day when someone with a tweaked bottom (the Dave King modification, folding prop, etc.) makes a showing in one of the local big races, like the Swiftsure (happening this weekend) and the Van Isle 360, which is every second year. Or better yet, the Vic-Maui.

    Every boat is a compromise, and I know that comparing a racing cat and the Westsail is apples and oranges - especially when the cat can go 35 knots (so says Nick), but I think these bozos need to know that the Westsails aren't that slow - the compromise of comfort and seaworthiness doesn't adversely affect performance.

    It's all well and good to point out the race times the 32 has made in the past, but it's time for a refresher...
  • August 05, 2015 4:51 PM
    Reply # 3467242 on 1554408
    Deleted user


    Come on! Why not have a dog as a look out? I once fell asleep at the tiller and although I was on the Starboard tack, I woke up and saw that big antique schooner passing me about 30 feet away, as they did also not have a lookout. A dog would have barked and alerted me.  The Grand Banks schooners  used to have dogs (most likely Labs) bark in fog and alert also others of their presence. Now I have to train my Chihuahuas! A Lab probably is more reliable as a lookout!




  • August 05, 2015 9:07 PM
    Reply # 3467394 on 1554408

    She does pretty well at notifying me when someone comes near. I was in Watmough Bay on Lopez Island last month and she did a great job at barking at a kayaker who came by to try to get me to tie to one of the private mooring balls. He did not like that I was anchored in the mud. I argued that if my boat ever broke from a mooring ball that he'd have more to worry about than an anchor killing a few kelp. One day I'm going to teach her to pull up the anchor rode. I think she could figure it out.

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