One More for the Win Column

June 13, 2011

Today was another great day, great enough that I checked out NOAA and found that the wind were to be about 10 mph and a clear and sunny sky.  I just had to get out again today.  But because the wind was a bit higher and the waves would be as well) I knew I needed to have another person with me.  I mentioned to me wife in the morning before work that I wanted to go out.  She said she would see depending on our kids’ schedules.

A few hours later, I realized that I had a 5:00 meeting I couldn’t miss – since I had called it – and my son had two almost adjoining basketball practices, the second one beginning around 5:30 – 6:00.  I of course cursed my lack of insight in setting the meeting, and cursed my son for playing on two basketball teams at the same time.  But, my wife was still game to go out, and she showed up with her work clothes on and her heels because she didn’t want to head home to get changed.  I had struck up a conversation with another boat owner who seemed as new to the marina as I was.  I was just a little proud that I had singlehanded my boat from the marina before he did, but I also assured him that I really took my time and it wasn’t that difficult.  Since he’s had his boat longer and used to sail in lakes, I know he’s more competent than I am.

My wife and I didn’t get out in the channel until about 6:30 pm, and I knew she could help by taking the tiller as I raised the sails, since I  thought it would be good for her to have some things to do so she wouldn’t be bored.  Also, she has said she wants to learn more about sailing and has been incredibly supportive throughout this process.  Unfortunately, I did get a little testy (just one time, honest!) when I asked her to try to keep the boat at about 30 degrees so we could stay into the wind, and once the dial went past 30, she didn’t move the tiller (and rudder) to straight ahead.  I often forget that using a tiller might be intuitive for me, but it isn’t for her.    In any case, she balked at my tone, I stopped and we went on to have a great sail.

We got ourselves going rather quickly, and I thought we might be able to get to the actual salt water of the bay, but we couldn’t tack through the wind quickly enough to avoid being in irons.  In addition, I am still not as good at knowing where the wind is coming from.  Add that to our Keystone Kops-like movements to switch the jib sheets, and we just couldn’t get it together.  We did change direction, mind you, we just didn’t actually tack.  We also had the devil of a time getting the main up, and only did so after unfurling the jib.  Of course, Murphy’s Law demanded that we have a main halyard twisted on itself.  We did untangle that and keep sailing, however.

At the end, I decide to try to heave to in order to lower the main.  This was suggested to me by another singlehand sailor.  I had only thought about using the heave to maneuver to take a break from steering or in case of a person overboard, but his theory was that the jib would blanket the main and protect it from the wind.  Boy, was he right.  The main came down easier than ever.  I’m  going to try using a heave to to raise the main as well.  I assume I will unfurl the jib, heave to and keep the tiller to one side with a cord or line, then raise the main.  If it works, I will have a much easier way of raising and lowering the main than I’ve been using.

Docking wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t really bad either.  My wife has the same challenge I do in gently pushing off with the boat hook, but we got it taken care of just fine.  I also took the time to semi-flake the main again once we were docked so it is in better shape in the sail cover.

I also have to commend my wife.  For someone who wasn’t keen on being on the water a whole lot, she’s given it a good try, and hasn’t gotten even remotely afraid when we’ve heeled.  Mind you, we haven’t heeled much, perhaps 10-12 degrees (no inclinometer), but she hasn’t flinched at any time.  Whether that’s because of her general confidence in me or just her own confidence is hard to tell.

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