I Didn’t Know That

June 7, 2017

Got a call from Spring Cove Marina today with the news.  Apparently, Hercules’ problem is because of a seriously gunked up carburetor.  The solution is to rebuild the carb and replace the external fuel tank, since that is the source of the gunk.  What you are supposed to do is replace that fuel tank every two years — who woulda thunk it?

All this learnin’ is tough….

When Will I Learn Patience?

May 25, 2017

The simple truth, patience is not one of my virtues, which puts me at an odd disadvantage as a sailor.  I dashed from the office hoping to get on the water quickly, and got everything ready and out with no difficulty whatsoever.  As I motored away from the fairway and into the west basin, however, I noticed a lot more chop than I should have, and noticed that Hercules, my trusty outboard was sputtering.  Well, I still raised the reefed main and headed out to the river, but I had to gun Hercules, since if I let it go to idle, it stalled.  That should have been the clue not to go out, but I didn’t listen.

I did head out, and once I deployed the Genoa, I didn’t like the winds, which were much higher than I anticipated, so after about 30 minutes of fighting, I called it a day and headed back in — with an even wore sputtering outboard.  How I was able to back Ilya down the fairway and into the slip is beyond me, but I guess I’ve done it enough that I was able to pull it off without hitting anything in the process.

Can’t say I’m looking forward to the tow and taking it to the marina for repair but I didn’t pay for this slip for this season for nothing!

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Main reefed; Genoa half out

Chop, current                          Moderate to high

Wind                                       12

Time                                       .75 hours


Nice and Easy

May 19, 2017

First time out this year was nice.  I usually want the first day out to be simple since I tend to forget more than I remember during the winter months, and having a slight breeze rather than a big gust is the best way to start the season.

I headed out after work just to play and found Ilya as responsive as always, and all systems go.  I had originally intended to just sail back and forth in the river, but eventually thought about heading to the Bay.  Once I decided that, however, the way out became a tad more complicated.  Probably if I had intended to head that way at first, I could have made it out there completely.  On the other hand, I was able to sail right into the west basin, which was kind of fun, and found it quite easy to back into the slip with no trouble at all.

Engine                                     40 minutes-ish

Sails                                         Main reefed; Genoa mostly out

Chop, current                          Moderate

Wind                                       Low, about 7-8 mph

Time                                        2.5 hours

That Was A Surprise

November 5, 2016

Decisions, decisions.  A good decision I made today was not shaking out the reef in the mainsail.  I was sorely tempted.  My ghosting during the first 15-20 minutes or so almost had me coming back in the marina, as a boat from the sailing club did.  The water was very unusual: it seemed to be uniformly rippling, but that seemed to be an indicator of almost no wind, and I was very frustrated before I saw another boat heading toward the bridge.  Mind you, that wasn’t where I wanted to sail, but it seemed like I might catch a puff by heading that way.  I did.

The puff I caught took me back and forth for about 30-50 minutes, as I sailed toward Solomons, then back toward the base. I even thought I might sail into the marina again.  After some pleasant minutes at this little pastime, the wind built incredibly fast, so much so that I reefed the Genoa into a storm jib.  That was harder than it should have been, but I kept my head about me, and also lowered the main so I could motor back to the marina.  While not at its best, Hercules did get me back into the west basin.  And surprisingly, it didn’t stall at low idle, either going forward, or backwards down the fairway.  And that was a win.

Engine                                     40 minutes, and in need of maintenance

Sails                                         Main reefed; Genoa mostly out, then storm

Chop, current                          Completely dead, then moderate

Wind                                       Low to very high: storm jib worthy

Time                                        2.5 hours

Sailing Back In

October 26, 2016


The sailing into the west basin wasn’t the primary feature of today’s sail, but it’s probably the only truly unique event.


I headed out at around 2:40 pm allowing myself to get out and back in prior to the sunset and cold weather.  I chose this day because it was probably the only day I could go out other than Sunday, plus other days the wind was going to be too high for me to sail.  As I went out — after having to start Hercules four or five times — I noticed that a couple of boats were coming in, and very few were out at all.  This always makes me nervous, so I decided I didn’t really need to hit the bay.  Actually, during my back and forth time toward Solomons, I was making good progress toward the bay, and probably could have made it perhaps 30 minutes later.  As I began making more and progress through my tacks, I noticed that another boat was heeling nicely and moving a bit faster than me — and it seemed to be sailing parallel to me but with a different direction of wind.  While that didn’t make sense, that what I thought was going on.


Today was also the time to try different points of sail.  Usually, I sail between a beam reach and close hauled, so today I thought I might sail in front of the marina by sailing at a broad reach.  It was actually fund, and one more illustration that I need to be conscious and more active in sailing on many different points of sail.  This latter point of sail, basically a broad reach took me close enough that I decided I would sail into the marina, and after a couple of tacks and a lot of patience, I made it!  Just as I was lined up perfectly I noticed one of the schooners from the sailing club, and it looked as though it was heading out which would have screwed me up incredibly.  Fortunately, they didn’t come to the breakwater, and I very slowly made my way in.


Once within the breakwater, I lowered and secured the sails as two Coast Guard boats looked at me quite curiously, but I wasn’t worried about safety given the low winds and control I had.


A quick start of Hercules (4 or 5 again) and I motored toward the fairway, and reversed without stalling into slip # C-27.


So second time sailing into the marina.


Engine                                     30 minutes

Sails                                         Main reefed, Genoa mostly full

Chop, current                          slow current; low chop

Wind                                       about 7 mph

Time                                        2.5 hours


October 15, 2016


I got a chance to head out for a few hours on a Saturday, and didn’t really think anything of it.  I mean, I thought it would be nice, but just didn’t want to have a crappy time.  My only real concern was about the stalling and odd throttle issue with Hercules, and it turned out that was a reasonable concern.


Well, the sail was actually good enough.  The wind was blowing such that I really didn’t feel the need to head to the bay, so I preferred to just sail back and forth from the west basin to Solomons and back.  I allowed myself to ghost along and let the sails catch the wind when I could, and it was nice and comfortable.  I did notice that boats started coming in a lot earlier than I thought they would.  I eventually found out why: as the sun just started to think about setting — still around 5:00 or so, mind you — it got cold — cold enough that I started kicking myself for not turning back to shore about 10 minutes sooner.


Once the sails were stowed, I started up Hercules, which didn’t want to stay on for the first few times, then motored safely and smoothly into the breakwater and the west basin without having to keep pressure on the throttle.  This means it’s all good, right?  Nope.  Once I changed direction to reverse. Hercules stalled.  Twice.  Fortunately I was able to massage Ilya into the skip without hitting anything, and all was well.


It’s a terrible irony that the wind is so poor during the summer when the air is warm, yet it’s often a lot stronger when it’s just too cold out there!


Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                         Main and Genoa reefed

Chop, current                          moderate current; intermittent high chop

Wind                                       slow at first then building to 10ish

Time                                        3 hours

Could Have Been Better

September 24, 2016

This should have been a better day, and it was.  The wind started out light even for me, but I was still reluctant to raise the main fully.  That eventually turned out to be a fine decision: I could have shaken it out, but I really didn’t have to.  I mean, the wind did die down, but I’m not convinced that having the main at full would have made much difference.

The wind was very odd.  In the beginning, I could only sail back and forth in the river, kind of in front of the marina, but since I am very uncomfortable heading toward the bridge, I thought it best to try to head to the bay.  After several tacks and playing with the wind episodes, including direction changes of almost 90 degrees (seriously!) I made my way into the bay, just as the wind was dying.  To be fair, it was dying as I moved toward the bay, and the smart sailor would have taken that as a sign to turn back in, but that’s hardly me (the smart sailor, I mean), so I stayed in the entrance to the bay far too long, and had to motor all the way back in, though I allowed myself to ghost for quite awhile, even once I lowered the main and had only the Genoa deployed.

It might have been possible to sail slowly back toward the marina, but I doubt it, given how light the winds had become.

On the way back in, Hercules performed well, but that was partly because I put very minimal pressure on the throttle so it kept up the rpms.  When I finally left off some of the pressure, it began to sound like it was missing.  I still did okay, until I lowered it to an idle and reversed.  The reverse kept trying to stall, and there’s nothing more nerve wracking than an engine stalling in the fairway when anything — boats, piers, etc. — can get lamed into.

After gunning the reverse gear several times, I backed into the slip, but I still don’t know what’s going on with Hercules.  I was more confident coming back in but now much less confident once back in the marina.

Engine:                        40 minutes

Sails:                           Reefed main, mostly full Genoa

Chop, current              Moderate, 1-2 feet

Wind                           Peaking at 10, then dead

Time                            4 hours