A First and an Almost Second

September 10, 2016


My time on the river and in the bay was really different today.  Once I was out on the river, the wind just died, yet I could see two of the sailing club boats in the distance turning near the helicopter pad area then heading toward the red marker for Drum Point.  While I had already deployed my sails and started ghosting, I decided to use the iron wind a bit more so I could catch a puff.  Eventually, I cut the engine — probably too early — and found myself just dead in the water.  Since I learned to have patience, I was eventually rewarded with a really nice puff that took me toward the middle of the river.  This started a back and forth sailing time routine catching the same puff over the over again from different directions.  After about a half hour, I found myself in a position to make it to the bay.


The forecast from NOAA for today was a bit scary, as it was talking about high gusts up to 20 but certainly in the mid teens, while the weather channel forecast talked about 8-10 miles an hour winds.  As I started to beat toward the bay very smoothly, I could feel the wind hitting somewhere near 10, but since the wind was so dead earlier, I didn’t have my windmeter in the cockpit to be sure of this.  The beating into the bay was actually nice, and it reminded me of a time earlier in the season when I shouldn’t have gone out there.  I did see a couple of boats, including Wavedancer, which is either in my marina or across the river in Spring Cove, and it is owned by someone I know from boy scouts.  There was also a large boat with an R on the sail that was handling things quite well.  I considered going back in as the wind and chop built, and some boats were doing just that, but I soldiered on.  Finally, I decided to go as far as the green buoy (#1, though I’m not really sure) and turn back, which is what I did.


Since I was determined to use the sails as long as possible, I had to tack and lot more back and forth to get back in the river, and even had to avoid a PWC and a couple of fishing boats, but I felt real “sailor-y.”  That’s when my first happened.  I heard something hit the bottom, and thought “I’m still in the channel, I can’t have hit bottom.”  I also remember a big ass boat that had gone in probably the same area and hadn’t hit bottom.  Ilya’s swing keel is only around 4 feet in depth, so I shouldn’t have hit anything.  Then, I hit again and slowed down.  I quickly went to the crank, raised the keel some, and eventually sailed myself off.


I just kept my sailing going and thought as the wind got more moderate that I might be able to sail back into the marina.  This would probably be tough, but as a bonehead anyway, the fact that I considered this shouldn’t have surprised me or anyone who knows me.  Thus began the second challenge, and I really thought I accomplished it about three times.  On two of the occasions, large schooners from the sailing club were coming out of the breakwater just as I was getting in so I had to do a 270 degree turn to avoid hitting them.  It seemed like no matter how much speed I had as I got to the breakwater, I just couldn’t get in without hitting the rocks by the green buoy.  I didn’t actually hit the rocks, mind you, but that was going to happen if I didn’t watch out.  One reason for this is that the current was rather strong coming out of the marina.  If it hadn’t been for that, my forward momentum would have let me in the basin.  So, I almost sailed in the marina for the second time, the first time four or so years ago being out of necessity when I broke the on/ off switch on Hercules.  The only consolation is that Bay Break didn’t even try to sail in — though I am reasonably sure that he could have done it and that would have really ticked me off.


Engine                                     30 minutes

Sails                                         Full, with some reefing of Genoa

Chop, current                          moderate current; intermittent high chop

Wind                                       slow, then gusting as high as 13 or 14

Time                                        4 hours


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