July 24, 2011
The day before, Saturday, would have been a good day for sailing, but I wasn’t sure of that until the day was already over. So, I resolved if possible to head out for awhile on Sunday. My daughter had been at a sleepover the previous night and was too tired to go out, but my wife said she would like to go. We loaded up with extra water because of the weather and headed out to the marina.
Given the way the wind was blowing, I thought we had a good change of making it to the bay, so I set my sights on that direction. It was hot at the marina, but much cooler on the water as I suspected. Of course, one of my tasks while sailing these days is to become more accustomed to the boat heeling, and we got quite a few puffs today to test that. I had originally thought of using only the main during the sail, but when that got a little slow — okay, a lot slow – I decided to pull out the jib. At first and for awhile, we had the jib fully deployed, and I tried really hard not to depower the sails when the boat began to heel. This was tough, but I really tried hard to get more accustomed to it. One thing I definitely need to purchase is a better incline-o-meter, or whatever they’re called. While on a port tack, when the boat is leaning toward the right, the meter that’s part of our compass says we’re already leaning five degrees when we’re flat in the water. Since something in that globe is stuck, I don’t have a good sense of how much we’re really heeling, so a new device, probably a stick on one will be my next purchase. I would say that I was getting comfortable with 10 degrees of heel with occasional shifts to 15, but I’m certainly not comfortable with anything above 15 if that. How people can regularly sail with degrees of heel between 30 and 45 I’ll never know. Am I destined to be a sailing wimp forever?
As we sailed, I asked my wife several times to take up the starboard jib sheet and either release it at the right time, or take it in and wrap it around the winch and cleat. There was only one time when I thought she made the jib too tight, but in every other circumstance, our tacks were very smooth. This was probably the best technical sail we’ve had together.
We were almost to the bay when the wind finally died out, and we had to use the engine. That didn’t last long, however, as after about five minutes, we were able to catch the wind again. One thing we caught a lot of were wakes from power boats. While some were courteous, most don’t seem to realize that slowing down 100 feet before they get to us isn’t going to help much, because the wave they’re already created as they’ve sped toward us will get to us after they leave, and be much more difficult to deal with.
It was on the way back that we also had a few tougher times in terms of heel. At one time, I had the jib partially furled, which helped, but at one point I just didn’t feel comfortable and let the boat round up on its own. That was when I decided we could lower the sails (we were on the way back anyway), and had actually tacked quite a few times in order to avoid obstacles like the marker and osprey nest. We turned into the wind, and I had my wife heave to and hold the tiller while I lowered the main. Then, instead of decided to just use the jib on the way in, I furled it, which meant we had about a 15-20 minute engine ride to the marina. I am going to remember this the next time!
Getting back into the slip was easy. My wife snagged both bow lines, and kept the starboard as I backed in with the engine. That was a perfect way to keep control of the boat. It was also our longest time together on the boat — a good day out definitely.