July 11, 2016
In one of my few to days in a row times out on the Patuxent, I happened to take out two colleagues from work, our program coordinator and one of our mentor students, along with my wife. Neither of them had ever been on a sailboat before, and in fact, the student thought I had a powerboat. they and my wife joined me at the slip once my wife had gotten changed, and I was thinking and rethinking about whether I wanted to go out, since the chop and current seemed a bit stronger than I wanted, especially when taking out first time people.
We motored out of the slip (my staff person claiming this whole sailboat thing to be too much work) then raised the reefed main within the west basin. I was still not sure about what to do. As we left the west basin, I noticed the other MacGregor in the marina (a 26) heaving to and lowering its sails as I was heading out. This was also not encouraging to me, and I thought again about turning back, but even in about the five minutes we were out, it seemed as though the chop was becoming smoother and the winds steady or perhaps even lowering. So, the other MacGregor (Irish Lady) came in even after being briefly visited by the coast guard. Another boat from the marina, a Pearson 28 named Providence also left the marina when we did, bound and determined to motor to the bay. I chose instead to just stay going back and forth from Solomons to west basin, and did so for three rotations.
As we were enjoying rather slow but steady time in Ilya, my staffer asked what I did while sailings: did I listen to music, read, what? My response, was that I can’t really read very well while tacking in the river. (Perhaps I could on the same heading for a couple of hours in the bay, but for the back and forth day sailing I tend to do, reading is out of the question.) I did mention that I listened to old radio shows frequently, but mostly I just sailed and listened to the wind. It was pretty clear that my friend and staff person would be much more at home with a powerboat rather than a sailboat.
It occurred to me with this interchange that those of us who are sailors don’t usually think about the fact that when we get on the water, we have to do some work — it’s all part of the experience, and in all honesty, I don’t reflect on the amount of work I have to do to get moving where I want to go: I just relish being able to play with the wind to get where I want to go.
It’s definitely about the journey and not the destination, right?
Engine 25 minutes-ish
Sails Reefed main, reefed Genoa, though more was deployed later
Chop, current 2-3 feet earlier, then calming
Wind 8+ mph then calming to around 5 mph
Time 2 hours