The Noob Files

Writer and new sailor David Blake Fischer fumbles out the channel, backwinds his jib, and drags his fenders on his Cape Dory 25 in CW’s exclusive series for cruising newbies.

Noob Files

Excited, inexperienced, and often afraid, David Blake Fischer is the quintessential noob cruiser. He hasn’t crossed oceans. In fact, he’s only really crossed Santa Monica Bay. But his lighthearted, often hilarious takes on his early sailing misadventures about his Cape Dory 25, Delilah, are sure to entertain and inspire new sailors everywhere.

 

Check back each month for new content from David Blake Fischer

Columns

Noob files boat

Boat-Name Bingo

Our “noob” cruiser grapples with the question of whether to rename his boat. Hilarity ensues.

A recent study found that 60 percent of couples fight over their boat name. Just kidding. I made that up. There was no study, and there were no documented fights, but, come on. Don’t you think there would be? I mean, just look around: Making LuffBreaking WindTina Tuna … These are actual boat names, chosen by actual people, splashed with paint onto the transoms of really unlucky boats. I sheet you knot: some people go out of their way to ruin a good boat with a bad name.

Some boat names are nouns, others are puns, and many of us wonder why. Why name a boat Bow Movement? Why name a yacht Mistress? Am I Feelin’ Nauti? Not really. If you ask me, an erotic boat name is about as necessary as a dashboard stuffed-animal display or a tattoo of a doughnut. 

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When I first got my boat, I imagined heading out to sea on all sorts of heroic adventures. In my dreams, I climb the mast barefoot, tie complicated knots, and sail off into orange sunsets. In my dreams, I’m tall and handsome: a skilled sailor who’s totally unafraid on the ocean.

Then, there’s me.

 

After 18 months with Delilah , my Cape Dory 25 ,  I’ve barely sailed beyond California’s Santa Monica Bay. I can’t tie perfect bowlines or take hunky, sunset selfies. And, in wind over 15 knots, my heartbeat feels like footsteps behind me.

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They say baseball is in decline. Bowling too. I won’t miss bowling, but I would miss sailing. So, I’m doing my part to save the sport: taking my kids out on the water every chance I get, hoping they’ll catch the bug and discover the magic of sailing for themselves.

Last week, Ezra and I shoved off from Marina Del Rey on our first ever father-and-son cruise to nearby Catalina Island. Every parent knows the weight that comes with managing the expectations of an excited kid. Will the trip live up to the hype? Will he love cruising? Hate it? Want a boat of his own? Swear off sailing and his weird, boat-obsessed dad all together?

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Sailed solo into the dock the other day. Just crushed the thing. Cracked the dockbox and took a chunk of paint off Delilah’s bow. That’s the great thing about singlehanded sailing: You don’t need anyone’s help to make mistakes.

Days later, I had another award-winner. Was coming alongside the marina guest dock, tried to spill wind, messed up, panicked, and came in with so much stank I had to leap off the boat and lasso a cleat cowboy-style. Afterward, the sheriff came by.

“Everything good?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “You came in pretty hot.”

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“My dock mate has a Beneteau 235. So, naturally, I’m jealous.

Ash’s boat is just 23 feet overall—a foot shorter than mine—but has an honest-to-God cruising interior. The table converts to a bed. The head transforms to a nav station. Looking around, I saw cubbies and shelves and a small galley. If I tilted my head, I could almost stand.

So, yeah, I’m pouty, ’cause I’m over here on my Cape Dory 25, contorting on a settee with no seatback, using an empty shoe to hold my beer. I’m not tall, but in this little cabin, I feel colossal. Add my wife and our two kiddos, and now we’re playing Tetris with our bodies. “Whose leg is this?” I ask in the darkness when we “sleep” aboard.”

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