Watch Captain & D-Skipper Classes Underway!

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D-CS student Anne Henderson Artip things sailing is fun!
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Instructor Jim Openshaw thinks sailing is serious business.

First Sail of 2015: ANSA’s Watch Captain and Cruising Skipper Programs


Sunday, June 7 proved to be the end of a long beginning for ANSA members looking forward to getting through a harsh winter and on to sailing the Chesapeake. The “beginning” for some included classroom sessions from 15 April for those working on their USNSA Watch Captain (WC)/Local Area Skipper and Cruising Skipper (D-CS) certifications.   To these seven aspirants—four WC and three D-CS students—June 7 marked their first day on FANTASEA, to become reacquainted with subsystem checks, and launch her out for the season’s first sail. Despite a schedule to begin the sailing season much earlier for other activities, nature had a different timeline for FANTASEA, one imposed by heavy snowfall and uncharacteristically low temperatures.

Last winter was exceptionally tough on lower backs and boats. Heavy snow and lengthy periods of cold temperatures strained the 37-year-old FANTASEA and most other boats in the Chesapeake area. Though spring brought the usual anticipation of another sailing season, the winter of 2014-2015 left ANSA sailors with plenty of repair work left by a severe season. Led by Fleet Captain Tom Richardson, a team of volunteers tended to a list of maintenance requirements on FANTASEA left by the harsh winter. Volunteers scrubbed decks, cleaned cabins and cushions, installed a new throttle, and replaced a damaged through hull. In early June FANTASEA was hauled out to Ferry Point and its hull sanded and given a fresh coat of paint. Finally she was ready for a Chesapeake sail. After juggling sailing requirements and schedules for over a month, ANSA’ first sail would be to put WC and D-CS students on the water.

A cadre of three led the year’s first sail. The class’ primary instructor, Jim Openshaw, led as Skipper of Record; Harvey Snyder served as First Mate; and both were supported by able seaman John Laffman. During classroom sessions Jim placed responsibility on D-CS students to prepare and lead various parts of instruction. On the water, they were again required to lead. ANSA’s D-CS students this year are Caroline Acker, Ann Artrip, and David Chappell; Watch Captain students are Todd Evans, Jason Giroux, Jan O’Connor, and Sak Sakoda. The day proved challenging for everyone.

Temperatures hovered in the low 70’s and the winds meeting FANTASEA’s first sail reached 18 knots; reefing skills were tested. WC and D-CS curricula place emphasis on individual sailing techniques; but the ultimate purpose for both of these programs is to prepare sailors with the leadership skills necessary at sea. These skills too were tested. ANSA’s WC and D-CS course have four-overnight and a one-day session remaining, plenty of opportunities to be challenged and learn.