Snake Bay Sailing Club Laser with a reefed sail on the shores of Porpoise Bay in Sechelt, BC.

Snake Bay Sailing Club Laser with a reefed sail on the shores of Porpoise Bay in Sechelt, BC.

Porpoises with Lasers

With apologies to Dr. Evil for this post title… Last summer I kept on seeing small sailboats out in Porpoise Bay and it looked like fun. But I though they were all privately owned. Then later in the summer I saw one of the small boats come into the boat launch beside the Lighthouse Pub and it was the first time heard about The Snake Bay Sailing Club.  (Update: The Snake Bay Club has disbanded and the Sunshine Coast Sailing Association has replaced it.)

I contacted Martin Brueck in late August of 2012  and he took me out for a few introductory lessons on his Cal20. It was a great introduction to sailing with its weighted keel, it is a very stable boat. There was something so freeing about being able to capture the wind and make it propel you through the water.

This spring (2013) I contacted Martin again with hopes to get out on the Laser’s this summer.

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master

The lasers are incredibly light incredibly quickly boats that can skim across the water exceedingly quickly and are tons of fun once you figure them out.

When ever I tell someone I have recently taken up lasers sailing. I then have to explain it is a type of sailing boat and then someone makes a joke about “So you’re not sailing on laser beams” No but the name stems from just how quick the boats are.

But with those attributes comes a trade-off they are I incredibly twitchy.  You have to be on top of everything or else you’ll be in the water.

The other thing is they can tip or “turtle”  (Turtling means flipping it upside down) somewhat easily but you can right them just as easily. This isn’t a luxury boat where you have martini’s on deck. You’ll have your hands full.

First time I went out on the laser I went out with Martin he came along for some extra weight and if I did flip the boat he would be there. Winds were light and we made it easily navigated around Porpoise Bay.

2nd time was more enjoyable and perfect for my first solo trip. Winds were constant and the gusts were manageable. It was a beautiful spring evening.

It is both amazingly simple and somewhat complex at exactly the same time. With only the tiller, main sheet and your body weight to control the boat. I found it was like the ISO, aperture and shutter speed of a camera. They all did different things but are all interdependent on each other to get the job done.

The third time was a different beast entirely. The wind as come up and created small whitecaps on Porpoise Bay along with winds gusting at times to 15 knots / 25 kms. I was simply to much of a beginner to really enjoy the wind as it was.

There was more then a couple OH S&^*$&^ moments but I got the boat to Porpoise Bay Beach and back to the club house without capsizing.

The hull is so light and agile and the sail so huge in comparison it doesn’t take much to get the boat going but in high winds that benefit is hard to control for a beginner!

The fourth time I went out the winds were much lighter but were forecasted to build through out the day.  I had decent control over the boat and was learning the how to do a proper jibe and after a couple successful ones I got the boat turned around and took a bath. (Forgive my spelling error on the gybe in the tweet, but I can’t edit a tweet after posting)

Although the water is still a bit cool and righting the boat wasn’t as hard as it would seem with Martin’s verbal cues.

We then reefed the sail to give me less sail to handle in the higher winds of the afternoon and so I wouldn’t turtle the boat again. I then followed the Sunday afternoon sailing races from my own laser.

I look forward to a great summer of sailing lasers on the inlet!

Update: In the summer of 2016 I finally purchased my own boat and all “things” associated with boat ownership.

If you are interesting in laser sailing contact the Sunshine Coast Sailing Association.

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