June 23, 2012
This was my first day at the boat since the major cleaning. I wondered if I would see a dramatic difference from the time I motored the boat to West Basin, and I was also concerned that in the last two weeks, every kind of dirt and stain would appear in the cockpit so I would feel really stupid for working so hard two weeks before. Such was not the case. I arrived and the cockpit just gleamed! And I actually felt like I did something good. I like when that happens.
The weather report had mentioned the possibility of the wind dying down in the afternoon, which eventually happened. I thought I was really careful about which lines to release in the slip first and last, yet it really didn’t work out that way. I think I will have the spring lines and one of the short dock lines toward the stern as my last three in the future. At least I think that makes sense. I did feel kinda like a moron in relatively low wind to have the boat all cockeyed in the slip as I left. Fortunately, nothing hit the shrouds and once I was in the fairway, it was all good.
I managed to get into the river and started thinking of how I should get myself to the bay and what to do along the way. The main went up easily, though I had already shaken out the reef, which took a little more shaking than I expected. This was also the first time that the Sailcradle stayed in place the entire time. Of course, this would happen after I posted something on one of the Macgregor forums about regretting the Sailcradle choice and thinking I should have gone with traditional Lazy Jacks. Verdict is still out on that one.
I did manage to take care of the boat okay, but I am really out of practice with tacking and releasing the jib sheets/ taking in the jib sheets on the new leeward side. I had a couple (okay, a bunch of) crappy tacks as I made my way painfully and slowly toward the bay. After several of these, the wind finally picked up and I was working on being more comfortable with heeling. This was working fine, except for the tacks, so I finally furled the jib and just sailed under the main. Certainly made the tacks easier! And it was a nice sail. Eventually, I opened up the jib partially, and went faster, and finally found myself making better tacks and getting myself farther and farther into the bay. I was even able to avoid all the crab pots, which is an achievement in itself. Of course, ever the Type A personality, I saw a number of boats — some with crews and at least one a singlehander — making better use of the wind than I was. The plus side of this is I really paid attention to sail trim for both sails, trying to see how much jib to have out and trimming each individually like it says in the forums and the books.
I was really enjoying it and wondered when I should head back to the marina. Just when I thought that, the wind died. At one point I measured the wind at 13 knots, and it fell to a low of .5 knots, which doesn’t move a 25 foot sailboat very much. I turned on the iron wind and tried motorsailing for a while, and even cut the engine at one time, but eventually, I decided enough was enough. Other people managed to get a little wind to keep them going, but it was only when I already had both sails furled that I saw any boats with what I thought might have been full sails, but at that point, I was committed to come in and a little tired. One good thing about my departure from the slip is I got all the lines nicely thrown over the static lines or on hooks on the pilings, so tying the boat in the slip was a snap. In fact, I saw a boat with three guys on it coming in as I was coming and I (without rushing) got Ilya back in the slip, and all ready to leave at about the same time they were ready. Of course, they may have been recent graduates of the sailing school, but in all honesty, I’m not too far from that myself, so I felt pretty good about my performance in the slip.
Practice makes perfect — or at least fewer bozo moments.