Okay, So I Haven’t Conquered It ….

August 17, 2017

The plan was simple: given the poor weather on August 16th, I decided to mow the lawn that day and head out to the marina on Thursday.  Simple, right?  Well, except for the fact that the weather was a little challenging at 3:45 – 4:00 o’clock when I decided to head out.  But, I needed to head out to make the marina charges worth it, so I sucked it up and headed out of the slip.  A neighboring sailboat wished me well, and I still wondered if going out made sense.

As I ventured out of the fairway, I raised the main with the single reef point, yet still thought I had too much sail out.  This required me to pull down the mainsail to the second reef point — even though I don’t have the hardware to do that.  Well, I accomplished it anyway by tying the ropes for the second reef point and just looped a separate rope in the aft location where I would normally have placed the single reefing line.  But this begs the question: if you have to put in a second reef point before going sailing, why are you going sailing at all?  Good question.

I did head out and found the sailing to be less than pleasant.  First, there was a navy vessel close by that was doing tests or playing — who knows?  It was going back and forth from the marina to Solomons Island, which is a couple of nautical miles away.  The vessel was big enough that the wake it created was hellacious, and did a number on a poor little 25 foot sailboat.  And the weather was chancy too, with light sprinkling and heavy clouds and I couldn’t tell is they were coming in to produce more rain, or heading out.

I fought it for about 30 minutes and made it almost to the beach area before just coming in.  I started Hercules and headed back, but at the same time was annoyed that the one day I could come out this week ended this way.

The ultimate disappointment was when I finally got close to the breakwater and saw that the sky was clearing, the navy vessel was put away, and the day was probably going to be good the sailing.  This was confirmed when I saw Bay Break in the marina raising his main and heading out.  I might have followed him except I was worried about my fuel levels with Hercules and didn’t want to be stranded.  As I was tying up, I could see Bay Break in the distance beating toward the bay.

I guess since he conquered haste, he had a good day out, and if I had just waited about 45 minutes I could have had one, too.

Engine                                     35 minutes

Sails                                        Double reefed sails

Chop, current                          High, with lots of wake action from large vessel

Wind                                       About 10

Time                                       1.5 hours


Managing Just Fine

August 4, 2017

Good day out.  I went out at 9:30 am since I knew the winds was going to be getting high in the afternoon, and I didn’t want to be out when I wasn’t comfortable with the wind or chop.  As I motored out to the bay because of the very low winds, I decided to be out for about four hours, meaning I would sail two hours out, then the two hours back.  Once I raised the Genoa, I sailed very slowly into the bay, I had hoped to sail toward the buoy with the bell, but that would have been a much tighter angle toward the wind, so I kept up with a close reach and headed out probably more directly east than the buoy with the bell.

As I reached about one hour and 40 minutes or so, I decided the chop was just too high and scary, so I headed back.  The way back in was actually pretty nice.  I managed to work both sides of the boat alternately ghosting by sitting in the leeward side, or hiking out on the windward side.  I was happy I could manage the sails, not only reefing the main as necessary, but also playing with the Genoa, deploying more or less of it to control the luffing.  My guess is that this is what I am supposed to be doing, since when the luffing stops, the boat hunkers down and sails better.  This is probably something I was supposed to learn in ASA 101, but perhaps I wasn’t paying attention….

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Reefed and Full Sail

Chop, current                          Moderate, up to 2 ½ feet

Wind                                       0 to about 10 mph

Current                                    Moderate

Time                                        5 hours


To Reef or not to Reef

August 2, 2017

Does it make sense to try to sail to the bay using the engine for the shortest possible time, or is it just better to get out there with the engine, so I can have fun?  I’ve always tried to get out into the river and use the sails to move toward the bay or across the river rather than to motor everywhere.  Isn’t that what sailors are supposed to do?  I only asked that of myself because so many other sailors from both West Basin and Solomons seem to motor out with perhaps their mains raised then deploy their jibs once they’re into the bay proper.  I of course raise mine in the basin because it’s generally easier than raising it in the river because of the generally lower winds within the west basin.

Dealt with a great deal of wave action on the bay proper, and had to contend with the Wednesday night races on the way back.  I managed to avoid colliding with the sailboats and finished for first ever five hour day in the boat.

And going out later did seem to make a difference — at least for today.

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Reefed and Full Sail

Chop, current                          Variable, especially on the bay

Wind                                        Variable, 5-9 mph

Current                                     Moderate

Time                                         5 hours

Just a Whisper

July 31, 2017

As the winds were going to be low, I didn’t expect to sail very fast today, and I didn’t.  But that was okay.  I just followed the winds as best I could, and still made it well into the bay.  I don’t think many other people did any better than I did, which was nice.  The current wasn’t particularly difficult to manage, either.

Of course, just as I was going back into the marina, I noticed other boats going out, and I think the wind might have been picking up as well.  Did I go out too early?  Maybe the next time I go out, I’ll try for later in the day, just to see if later afternoon is better for sailing.  I’m still new enough at this to believe that most people — particularly those with larger sailboats — probably know more about this than I do, so going out later might be the ticket.

Guess we’ll see on Wednesday.

Engine                                     30 minutes

Sails                                        Full Sail

Chop, current                          Low to Moderate

Wind                                        Low, up to 5 mph

Current                                    Light to moderate

Time                                        4 hours

Getting the Hang of It

July 4, 2017

With the exception of the osprey who very coolly dived in front of Ilya and snagged a fish from the school churning in front of us, it was a rather common sail.  Hercules was doing nicely, and after a very slow start, I decided to go full sail.   I began ghosting back and forth, with the goal of the bay but I wasn’t particularly confident I’d make it.  There was enough current flowing back toward the marina that I didn’t think I would ever get past it, but I decided that the whole patience thing was worth it, and after an hour or so, the wind picked up, and I gained a little speed.

Of course the sailboat racing dance happened as well.  An H26 boat was on my tail and with probably superior skill, eventually passed me.  At that point, with the wind being fickle again, I thought heading back toward the marina and perhaps another puff of air would be the way to go.  So I headed back and began to pick up speed, and thought, I wonder what would happen if I turned back toward the bay?  Well, besides making steady progress all the way to the bay and passing the bell buoy again, just a really nice sail.

The wind got a little higher as I returned, and I reefed the main for the last 20- 30 minutes before lowering all sail and returning to the marina and slip.

I only wish I was able to get a shot or movie of the osprey….

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Full Sail

Chop, current                          Low to Moderate

Wind                                       Almost 0 to 9-ish

Current                                    Moderate

Time                                       4 hours

To the Bay and Back

July 2, 2017

This sail started out very slow.  My wife and I headed out on Sunday, a day that promised lower winds.  And that’s what we seemed to have for the first hour or more of sailing.  First, the only wind was the apparent wind.  Finally, after deploying Hercules, we ended up in the middle of the river, we turned off the engine and waited.  I stayed on the leeward side to help us ghost along, while my wife generally stayed on the other side, or in the middle by the companionway, which worked out pretty well.  We noticed several boats doing better than we were doing — which is often par for the course.  One of them, named Trilogy, was tacking toward West Basin while we were heading in another direction.  We followed their tack after shifting direction, and after another hour to hour and a half, we found ourselves making slow progress toward the bay.

We encountered lots of high wakes from the powerboats, many of which seemed to have no regard at all for slower moving boats on the river.  But we were fine with them.  We sailed right past two sailing boats that were anchored almost at the entrance to the bay, and several other sailboats doing what we were doing.  We finally turned around when we were about parallel to the ringing buoy (number 1?) and made our way back.

Slowly, yet steadily, we ended up almost sailing into to the west basin.  Actually, we sailed into the breakwater, but immediately found ourselves in irons.  No matter: deploy Hercules, and head inexorably into C27: easy as pie.

Engine                                     45 minutes

Sails                                        Full sails

Chop, current                          Low

Wind                                       8-9 ish

Time                                       4 hours

Nothing to Prove

June 30, 2017

The general consensus was that the wind was too high to head out on Friday.  And when I finally decided I should stop assuming it was too high, I headed to the marina, and saw very few boats in the river or bay, and an awful lot of action with the windvanes of the other sailboats.  In short, it really was too much wind for me.

As I was taking Hercules’ fuel tank to refill it, I noticed a sailboat owner cleaning his boat. This seemed like a good idea, so I texted my wife telling her I would be doing a little cleaning, then headed to fill the tank.

Now when I returned, the wind had died down considerably, so I thought “Okay.  Time to stop being a wimp and head out.”  After sending my wife a text, I did just that.

Raising the sail within the west basin wasn’t difficult, and I thought for a moment of shaking out the reef right then, which would have been an incredibly boneheaded move — glad I didn’t do it.  For when I got onto the river, the wind and current were much, much stronger.  In fact, strong enough that I took down the main pretty quickly so I could head in.  Wimped out again.

Then, I saw another sailboat flying just his jib, and thought that would be a good idea.  So I deployed the Genoa as a little more than a storm jib and found that I could make slow progress toward the bay, as the other boat was doing.  But you know — it was just too much work, and I lower the Genoa and motored back into the slip.

Sailing does require work, and I’m quite happy with that.  In fact, I am surprised by the amount of work that goes into sailing, and only realize it when somebody else points it out to me.  I just enjoy it even though it does involve work.

But on Friday, the work just wasn’t worth it to me.  So no, I didn’t actually wimp out.

Engine                                     30 minutes

Sails                                        Main reefed; Genoa half out; then only storm jib

Chop, current                          Moderate chop.  Strong current

Wind                                       13-15

Time                                       .75hours