July 8, 2016
Yep. Heaving to would have been the right choice — if I could have kept all of my head about it.
As I started out, I raised the main before leaving the breakwater then headed out from the marina with very few people out there. That all went smoothly, and because the wind was light, I raised the full main and deployed the full Genoa. The wind picked up just enough for me to have some fun sailing back and forth across the river. Shortly after I left, Auk left the marina and motored toward the bridge. I considered a few times sailing there as well, but also remembered the one time my wife and I did that and it wasn’t pleasant — far too many powerboats play around the bridge and I didn’t relish having to deal with the wake and proximity to the bridge pilings at the same time. It just looked like a recipe for disaster. I’m sure that was the I right decision. After all, Auk is about 38 feet long, and probably outweighs me by 4 to 8 times, so they can handle a lot more wave action than Ilya can.
Another good decision was to simply sail back and forth, rather than being drawn by the bay, though I did change that decision eventually. As the wind built, I hunkered down and got as high as 5.8 knots, which is only 6.43 miles an hour, and I also tested myself to heel more and more. Eventually, I decided to start going in at the last tack, nearing the helicopter area of the base near the river. But as the heeling got too severe, nothing I could do with the Genoa worked, and it kept flapping out of control. I quickly decided to reel it in rather than what I probably should have done, which was to heave to and settle the boat down. That would have allowed me to then lower the main with the Genoa shielding it from what was about 13 mph winds, and waves up to around 3 feet. Instead, I deployed Hercules, used the self-steering device and very painstakingly lowered the main by pulling on the bottom of the sail. I was able to get enough of the main down to motor in, but even the small bit of sail that was still up made motoring very slow and scary. I kept my head enough to eventually get in and thankfully, once within the breakwater the water calmed as did the wind.
What really surprised me was that one of the old Coast Guard boats was out with me and didn’t seem bothered at all, while another was heading out while I was coming in! Are these people crazy?
I was somewhat satisfied that the one out with me came back in right after me, so perhaps I wasn’t as much a scaredy-cat as I thought was.
Tying up at the slip was simple, though I perhaps should have followed the example of the other Coast Guard boat and flake my main more carefully. That’s tough to do alone, but not impossible, so I think I need to do that. Something I definitely need to do is replace the furling line: some chafe has damaged it and the last thing I want is to be unable to furl the Genoa in high winds.
Engine 20 minutes
Chop/ current Mild, then very challenging
Wind Light like less than 4 mph to 13
Time 4 hours