August 20, 2011
I went to the marina as early as I could (family doesn’t want to go, no problem, mon’!) and took my cool new device to the boat, just as proud as could be. I hooked it up to the tillers, noticing that the part of the boat tiller that was parallel to the end of the engine tiller was much thicker than the cut out I had made on my steering device. No bother, I thought. I’ll just have to double wrap the bungee and steer carefully. However, when I finally decided to see how well the boat would steer with my new device I discovered that when I moved the boat tiller all the way from left to right, the engine tiller only moved a couple of inches and perhaps only 10 degrees (maybe more). Levers, geometry and any other science I wasn’t too good at had cooked this whole idea. (And I was really proud of this device.)
So, I did what I probably should have done in the first place. I went sailing. I figured I had to use both hands while steering into and out of the slip anyway, so I just did what I did normally, and held both the engine tiller and regular tiller in both hands as I exited the marina and the breakwater. I decided that once I got out of the marina, I would simply tie about 18 inches of line around two parts of the —- bar on the engine to one of the stern cleats to keep the engine facing forward and it worked! Now what did I bother making that wooden device for, anyway? At least that mission was accomplished. Here’s a picture of the engine with the lines attached:
The much harder mission for the day, however, was simply sailing in what were ever increasing winds. I alternately tried having only the jib up, to having primarily the main, then the main with a little jib, and finally to the jib again. The wind started light, but began both building and becoming variable. And my nemesis — heeling — started again. It may have only been a bit over 10 degrees, but I got spooked. On two occasions, it was definitely more than that, but after those two times when I needed to spill the air out of both sails and fast, I was scared again. I finally started going back and forth to Solomons, but even that was tough. On two occasions, powerboats just left marinas and started going full tilt right by me. I got a couple of ugly wakes that could have thrown me from the boat and really ticked me off.
One thing that is kinda demoralizing is watching those other boats sailing with almost no bouncing at all, while when I go in a straight line, I’m constantly bumping along. And one boat was really going at a steep heel which I just knew I wasn’t going to duplicate. I will say that that boat had at least two people riding on the windward rail to help balance the boat, and I don’t have anything to put on the rail, so it isn’t really a fair comparison.
I finally decided I’d had enough, and started to motor back, which was all the way across the river from Solomons and against a very strong current. This was really tough. I tried on two occasions to open the jib to help get myself back, but got turned around really quickly in the wrong direction. I later learned as I was getting back into the marina that the wind had gusted up to 17.7 miles per hour (I measured using my —–) which is obviously way beyond my comfort zone or skill level. I also had a little trouble with Hercules (the engine) racing when I started it, and when I changed from reverse to forward and vice versa. It also seemed like there was almost no neutral, and I was popping directly from forward to reverse, which I know ain’t good.
I was wise enough, however, to cut the engine in the slip once I was able to grab one of the starboard lines and secure the boat. I suppose I should be happy that I got back safely, but I’m still not feeling as though I’m gaining in skill or sailing ability.
The sail cradle is definitely not hooked up properly, I’ve decided. The marina guy who installed it was afraid that if he kept the lines cut per the instructions, the force of the sail cradle would lift the boom, but I think the vang that I have (inverted vee on the transom) would have prevented that. One way or the other, I’ll need to get that changed. I also know I definitely need to install the jiffy reefing system. I’m sure I can do it, and I’ll definitely need it for higher wind sailing this fall. Not having it means I can’t alter the amount of canvas I have on the main along with using the jib furling system to modify how much jib is up. Being able to jiffy reef will be a much better way of helping to balance the sails, and might help me be a better sailor.