August 16, 2015
This was an awesome day. With my wife and our friend doing the shopping thing, Ellen said “why don’t you go to the boat today.” She didn’t have to ask me twice. I arrived at the marina sometime around 2:00 – 2:30, and was easily able to head out onto the river. The wind was coming from the marina shore, so I was able to raise the reefed main pretty early and head toward the bay, not because I had to “get to the bay,” rather because it was the logical place to head. Once I unfurled most of the genoa, I was off. The current was working against me as it usually does, but I was still able to make steady progress. However, I could see that on the tack I was taking, I was unlikely to be able to sail within the red marker on the Solomons shore. That proved to be the case. On two occasions, I was unable to make it and had to change tacks. One time, I had to change tacks by turning ¾ of the way around because a powerboat’s wake had sapped all my forward momentum. On the third time trying to head out, I made it, and continued for quite a ways out.
I was tempted to try to head all the way across the bay to the eastern shore, but knew that wouldn’t have been a good idea. Apparently, to get to the community of Fishing Creek would be about 15 nautical miles from west basin marina, which would take perhaps no more than 3 hours on an average day, so I think that will be my first across-the-bay destination.
The heading that I took to get out to the bay was held for about another hour as I sailed through a number of buoys indicating crab pots, and by a number of fishing boats, with their entourage of seagulls and pelicans. The pelican can be seen in the distance ahead of Ilya in the picture.
My speed got up to and beyond 6 mph, and I began trying to notice how far I was from west basin versus the eastern shore. Eventually, at about 4:10 pm, I took the opposite heading and headed back to the marina. For a while, another boat was behind me to my right, and eventually passed me. Can’t say I was happy about that, but I did realize that their sails were fully out, while mine were reefed, plus it was a bigger boat, so it has higher speed potential. What was really impressive was that this boat was closer to Drum Point than I was, yet still managed to avoid going aground. I was conscious the whole time that I needed to sail close enough to the wind to avoid grounding, yet this boat just seemed to get nowhere near the shore enough to worry about it.
One thing I learned today was that I could sail a lot closer to the wind than I thought I could — maybe this comes at least partially from the higher wind velocity today. I was able to sail with the wind indicator actually on the rear flags, and so long as I didn’t get the rear of the indicator inside the flags I was okay, which allowed me to sail another 5 degrees closer to the wind. After unfurling the remainder of my genoa, I continued to build speed once inside Drum Point, and got up to 7.1 mph, which translates to 6.17 knots, and is less than .3 mph away from theoretical hull speed. It’s funny how while the speed was up there, it didn’t feel as fast as I thought it would, though that is probably because I’ve been pushing myself to become more comfortable with speed and heeling so much this year.
Though I gotta tell you, 7.1 still felt good.