Archive for » August 24th, 2014«

Y-Knot makes sailing accessible for all

FORT ANN – Michael Hall recalled a poignant moment during a regatta for disabled sailors a few years ago.

The Albany man, a volunteer companion for the Y-Knot sailing program, looked out over the docks at Camp Chingachgook and saw empty wheelchairs lined up in a row.

“All those people that came here were now out sailing, they were having a wonderful time out on the lake,” Hall said.

Hall is just one of the volunteers who, each summer, help others leave their disabilities behind for a few hours to experience the stiff breezes and cool spray of Lake George in the Y-Knot program at Camp Chingachgook.

Teenagers to 70-somethings, who have either limited use of their limbs or are para- and quadriplegics, are invited to have lunch and enjoy outings between May and September. The program works on donations, so there is no cost to the sailors.

Billy Rankin, camp director, said about 16 men and women sailed this summer and several have become regulars.

“It’s rare that we see someone just one time a summer, especially if it’s a nice sunny day with winds coming out of the south” Rankin said.

An annual Y-Knot Cup regatta in September draws sailors from other states and Canada.

Y-Knot began 18 years ago after a group of sailors with disabilities wanted to form an accessible program in the Capital Region. They met with then-Executive Director George Painter, and the program was launched at Chingachgook.

The sailors originally made modifications to boats that were not specifically handicapped accessible. Through the years, however, the Y invested in six two-person Martin 16 sailboats, as well as a larger vessel, “No Limit,” that can accommodate six or seven at a time for group sails.

The Martin 16s have seats for a sailor in front and an able-bodied volunteer companion in back. The sailboats are outfitted with such adaptable equipment as gunwale straps that help a person sit up straight and a joystick tiller. For those with no use of their arms, there is a sip-puff system that allows participants to steer by inhaling or exhaling through straws.

A 300-pound keel prevents the vessel from capsizing.

Participants make reservations at least three days in advance of the sail and are paired with a volunteer companion who prepares the boat for the necessary adaptations. While out on a sail, a chase boat stays in the area to ensure safety and keep motor boats from getting too close.

Erich Piper of Waterford started sailing with Y-Knot four years ago after a 30-year hiatus. The 49-year-old has muscular dystrophy and used to sail on Schroon Lake. He said the program has given him a reason to keep up with his range-of-motion exercises, and he loves the freedom that comes with being on the water.

“They give you the mainsail and the jib and they say, ‘Have fun.’ Being on the boat, knowing you’re the one controlling, is absolutely exhilarating,” Piper said.

Sixty-nine-year-old Glenville resident Mark Carnevale, president of the board of advisers for Y-Knot, has lived 22 years with a spinal cord injury. He believes adaptive sailing has “leveled the playing field.”

“You can steer yourself. You can work the sails. You get as close to the water as you possibly can,” Carnevale said. “You feel like you’ve escaped, to some degree, from being trapped in your own body.”

Before the start of each outing, Rankin, the camp director, gives a “chalk talk” in which he discusses weather conditions and gives advice to the sailors and companions.

The sailors are hoisted into the boats with the help of the crew or do it themselves, if they’re able, and head out for a one- to two-hour cruise with their companions.

Y-Knot volunteers are assessed on how they are best suited to help the sailors and take the necessary training classes. Some come with sailing experience and become companions, but others want to assist with such tasks as rigging the boat, putting the sailors in the slings or watching the participants’ guide dogs during a sail.

Steven Rosen, 26, is spending his first year as a volunteer companion. The Chatham resident is a mechanical engineer during the week but helps at the Y during weekend events. As a former camper at Chingachgook, he remembers how special it was to be out on the lake, and he wants to help others get that chance.

Rosen said there is always a lot to talk about during a two-hour sail, but most importantly, he learns from seeing how the sailors deal with life’s struggles.

“When you think you’re having a bad day, it puts things in perspective. Your bad day might not be all that bad when push comes to shove,” Rosen said.

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Norwalk Boat Show has plenty to offer

“The Times They Are A-Changing.” So wrote Bob Dylan in the fall of 1963. Truer words were never written as the times are a-changing in the newspaper world.

This week’s fishing column will mark the end of a 28-year run in the sports section of The Advocate and Greenwich Time.

And what a run it was. I wrote about the changing fish populations, a world record striped bass, a wayward manatee and hundreds of Connecticut youngsters who learned about fishing thanks to hard working and caring volunteer educators.

I will miss those wonderful stories as well as keeping you wonderful readers up to date on activities in our area.

This week’s column will feature two upcoming events may be of interest to you. The first is an event that I have reported on and helped with for many years. I will still be participating and enjoying teaching youngsters about fishing and the habitat.

On Friday, Sept. 5th, the Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education (CARE) program will be holding its annual fall Fishing Class for kids age 7 and up. Held at the Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd, the class will teach the young anglers about fishing, identifying fish, basic knot tying and more. The class will practice what they learned at a very special “fishing hole” on October 4th.

The class is free and is open to all area children, participants do not have to be Stamford residents. Bring your own gear or use ours! You provide your own transportation and bait. To register call the Stamford Recreation Services at 203-977-5214.

Mark Sept. 18-21, 2014 on your calendar as well. That’s when the annual Progressive Insurance Norwalk Boat Show docks at Norwalk Cove Marina, offering visitors and local residents an all-access pass to discover why life is better with a boat.

With boating participation at a record high — 89 million Americans went boating in 2013 — thousands of novices and lifelong enthusiasts are expected to cruise the show for exclusive specials and competitive bargains on hundreds of the latest luxury motor and sailing yachts, sport fishing boats, family cruisers, performance boats and sailboats, plus the largest selection of marine accessories.

Here are the boat show highlights for serious shoppers, casual dreamers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to cap their summer on the water.

Boat hop and shop sales: See, board, and compare hundreds of new boats ranging from 13-foot runabouts to luxury yachts 75-plus feet. Visitors in the market to buy will benefit from an early visit on Thursday or Friday to walk the docks, talk with dealers about new product introductions and competitive bargains. Dreamers can also benefit from “boat hopping” and plan ahead for a future purchase with the boat budgeting experts at the Welcome to the Water Center.

Upgrade tech and water toys: Boaters on the hunt for the latest marine electronics, accessories and gear will delight in thousands of the latest and greatest GPS and radar systems, fishing equipment, design finishes, all-weather apparel, water sports gear and more from top outfitters and brands.

Learn to boat, sharpen skills behind the helm: The show’s educational opportunities are unparalleled. Boaters of all experience levels can take advantage of workshops on Long Island Sound at Discover Boating’s Hands-On-Skill Training series, featuring lessons on close quarters powerboat handling, open water boat handling and seamanship, and anchoring and rafting up with other vessels. Attendees can also participate in daily on-land seminars covering a variety of topics including DIY sessions at Fred’s Shed.

Fitness and fun on the water: Grab a paddle and head to Try It Cove to take a stand up paddling (SUP) or kayaking tour, enroll in SUP yoga classes and more. Visitors can also enjoy free boat rides on Long Island Sound for a glimpse of what the boating lifestyle has to offer.

Dive into family fun with Nature Nick’s Animal Adventure and more: Families will love Nature Nick’s Animal Adventure, which allows kids of all ages to get up close and personal with exotic rescue animals including owl monkeys, wallabies, Amazon parrots and more! Kids can also build a nautical masterpiece at the Toy Boat Building tent; navigate a mini-lake in paddleboats; and meet Dora the Explorer. Plus, don’t miss the chance to check out the famous Miss GEICO race boat (a catamaran that reaches speeds of 180 mph) before heading to the Water Club Lounge with live music by Eric Stone to relax and unwind.

Tickets are $15 for adults; children 15 and under get in FREE when accompanied by an adult. Enjoy a $3 discount per ticket for groups of 10-to-30 people and a $5 discount per ticket for groups of 31 people or more.

For more information, to order tickets online, and to see updated features, seminar and event schedules, visit


Fishing last week was quite good in the Western Sound. Striped bass, black sea bass, porgies, blackfish and bluefish were actively feeding.

Paul McFarland fished off Cummings Beach and caught a nice 36 inch striped bass. He used a freshly snagged bunker to catch the big linesider.

Billy at Sportsman’s Den reported that Gene Holland caught and released six stripers while fishing with light tackle and plugs off Captains Island. His largest linesider measured 30 inches.

Jose Lopez caught some nice bluefish while fishing from shore off Shippan. His largest chopper measured 32 inches and was taken on fresh bunker.

While fishing outside of Greenwich Harbor Joe DeMarte caught several bluefish including one that weighed 17.5-pounds. The fish were taken using bunker chunks.

Over at the Stamford Cows, Joe Horvath caught a limit of porgies and a 17-inch black sea bass. He was using a combination of mackerel slices, clams and elbow macaroni. He also caught some bluefish on bunker chunks.

Mike Black and Chris Miller fished from Norwalk to the Stamford Cows last week. Using clams and calamari they caught limits of porgies and some sea bass up to 20 inches in length.

Mike Marinacciao caught a pair of keeper blackfish while fishing a secret spot off Stamford, His largest black weighed 7 pounds and was taken using an Asian crab.

If you are looking for snapper bluefish, try Holly Pond in Stamford. We heard of many people catching snappers up to 7 inches using snapper poppers.

Martin Armstrong is a member of the Fisheries Advisory Council, a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited and part of the Outdoor Writers Association

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Sailing: Old rivalry renews at Cardiff regatta

Team New Zealand has renewed an old rivalry at the extreme sailing series regatta in Cardiff.

They’ve collided with Alinghi during the fifth race of the second day.

Team New Zealand had to pull out of the race and sit out the next two while repairs were made.

A jury hearing will be held tonight where culpability will be determined and a decision will be made on whether points will be awarded for the missed races.

Team New Zealand is languishing in ninth place out of 11 boats.

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Team NZ in costly double collision in Cardiff

COLLISION: Team NZ’s rudder shows the damage after they were tail-gated by regatta leaders Alinghi and SAP Extreme in Cardiff today.

Team New Zealand’s charge at the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff was halted by a double collision in Cardiff today, forcing them to sit out the last five races.

Skipper Dean Barker and his crew made a good start to the fifth race of the second day, rounding the first mark in second and then gaining the lead.

But it all came to a premature end when they were tail-gated by regatta leaders Alinghi and SAP Extreme at the next mark.

The Kiwis lost both rudders, leaving them without any steering.

”We had to pull out of that race and sit out the following two while repairs were made,” Barker said as his team dropped from seventh to ninth on the points table.

They reported no injuries from the double collision.

A jury hearing will be held where culpability will be determined and decide if points will be awarded for the missed races.

 ”We feel we have a pretty strong case but it’s up to the umpires to determine if we were in the right or wrong,” Barker said.

With the boats hitting top speeds of 24 knots in winds gusting from 10 to 18 knots, and with a race course just 300 metres wide in places, the fleet were on the congested start line and even closer during the mark roundings.

With races lasting just six minutes, manoeuvres had to be executed quickly and with precision, with rapid deploys of the gennakers, before gybing and furling all in less than 20 seconds.

It’s been a frantic regatta. Groupama sailing team, damaged in a collision with GAC Pindar on the first day, was unable to complete repairs overnight and did not compete today.

They will be back on the water tomorrow and will be awarded average points for the races they have missed.

Extreme Sailing Series, Cardiff

Standings after Day 2 – 20 races:

1st Alinghi (SUI) 141 points.

2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 139 points.

3rd J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 131 points.

4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 120 points.

5th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 113 points.

6th Oman Air (OMA) 106 points 7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 91 points.

8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 87 points.

9th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 75 points.

10th GAC Pindar (AUS) 67 points.

11th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 33 points.

– Stuff

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