Shake it Out; Put it Back in

June 28, 2017

Lots of sailing websites and forums (fora?) tell beginning sailors to practice putting a reef in their sails and shaking it out as part of becoming better and more competent sailors.  I get it.  In fact, I’ve been doing that the last few times I went out, and think I’m getting pretty decent at it.

This day of sailing was unusual for the wild swing of wind speed during the sail.  When I started out with my mainsail up and one reef point in, I had a feeling that the wind was going to be a lot slower than the weather report said.  No problem, I thought.  “Just keep heading out with Hercules” — which performed quite effectively — “and catch a breeze somewhere on the river or the bay.”  Eventually, I shook out the reef and felt some breeze, not too far from the markers indicating Drum Point.  I was really sailing!  And that feeling lasted quite a while — I suppose for about 30 minutes until the wind really picked up.  Really.  I couldn’t really measure the wind speed because of the whole apparent-wind thing.  I decided to reef both the mainsail and lower the Genoa into essentially a storm jib.  Another small boat with a skipper and three passengers kept going on toward the bay, but I didn’t feel the need to prove anything (though I did feel like a wimp) and headed back in the direction of the marina.

It turned out to be a decent sail.  I kept the sails reefed and simply rode the higher winds and very strong current back toward the marina, which took probably close to 45 minutes or so.  Eventually, I decided to try to sail back into the marina, and took perhaps 10 passes back and forth riding the wind before I decided to call it a day and lower the sails, which was at the same time the wind died down again.  So, whatever higher winds were out there in the afternoon, I rode completely.  The other small boat I saw with the four people on board had eventually reefed their sails too, by the way, so I wasn’t the only wimp, or only smart skipper.  The wind became slow enough that I was able to secure the mainsail without heaving to, and motored easily bask into the slip.

The only casualty was the self-steering device:  the surgical tubing came apart from one of the clips, but I’ll repair that before heading out again.

I’d call it a win….

Engine                                     45+ minutes

Sails                                        Main reefed; Genoa half out; then full, then reefed again

Chop, current                          Low to Moderate to low

Wind                                       Who knows?

Current                                    Very strong in the middle of the sail

Time                                       4 hours


Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On

June 25, 2017

Well, maybe I should have gone out on Saturday instead of Sunday.  I mean, the weather report said there would be high (okay, 14 mph, which is high for me to start sailing) both days, so I was perfectly happy to stay around the house on Saturday.  But I thought it might be just fine on Sunday.  Well, It’s not a good sign when you’re turned into the wind, and think: “Hey, why don’t I just turn 90 degrees to this and go onto a beam reach,” and instead see that the windex doesn’t change direction.  I don’t know what the dang thing was measuring, but it certainly wasn’t wind direction.

Of course, I did see this 40+ foot ketch ghosting around, and I tried the same thing on several occasions, but no soap.  It’s a good thing that Hercules was operating nicely, because I had to turn him on several times trying to find the spot where I would catch the wind.  Of course, if there’s no wind to catch, that’s a losing proposition.

I saw a few other boats doing slightly better than me, but not much to talk about. I would say that heading back into the slip and getting everything packed up went better and more smoothly than usual, and that was nice.

Engine                                     60 minutes

Sails                                        Main and Genoa fully out

Chop, current                          Moderate

Wind                                       Almost none

Time                                       2.5 hours

A New Way to Show Patience

June 22, 2017

As I’ve said before, I’m not really a patient person, and sometimes, I’ve rushed to get out on the water, only to find out — after coming back in — that if I’d just waited 30 minutes or so, I would have had a great day on the water.  Well, today, I still didn’t wait long enough, but I learned new patience by simply waiting a little longer than usual to have some fun.  And it worked!

I started with the main reefed, then shook it out to get more speed.  Even though I haven’t been out very much this year, it still felt good.  Kissed the bay, but really didn’t feel the need to go farther into it — the river was just fine.  An excellent sweet day.

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Main reefed then shook out.  Genoa fully out

Chop, current                          Low to Moderate

Wind                                       11

Time                                       4 hours

Back in Business

June 20, 2017


Well with Hercules finally repaired and with a new external fuel tank, I set off from Spring Cove Marina to play in the river and bay.  The engine just hummed along, reminding me that it really is a solid engine even as it ages,  It’s amazing how nicely an engine works when you treat it right.

New external fuel tank

The wind was nice — not too much, not too little, and I got to heel very nicely, thank you very much.  Kept the main reefed just in case and the Genoa about ¾ to 7/8 out.  I was able to kiss the Bay, but that didn’t really matter.  I was just happy to be on the water again.

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Main reefed; Genoa half out

Chop, current                          Low to Moderate

Wind                                       8

Time                                       2.5 hours

I Didn’t Know That

June 7, 2017

Got a call from Spring Cove Marina today with the news.  Apparently, Hercules’ problem is because of a seriously gunked up carburetor.  The solution is to rebuild the carb and replace the external fuel tank, since that is the source of the gunk.  What you are supposed to do is replace that fuel tank every two years — who woulda thunk it?

All this learnin’ is tough….

When Will I Learn Patience?

May 25, 2017

The simple truth, patience is not one of my virtues, which puts me at an odd disadvantage as a sailor.  I dashed from the office hoping to get on the water quickly, and got everything ready and out with no difficulty whatsoever.  As I motored away from the fairway and into the west basin, however, I noticed a lot more chop than I should have, and noticed that Hercules, my trusty outboard was sputtering.  Well, I still raised the reefed main and headed out to the river, but I had to gun Hercules, since if I let it go to idle, it stalled.  That should have been the clue not to go out, but I didn’t listen.

I did head out, and once I deployed the Genoa, I didn’t like the winds, which were much higher than I anticipated, so after about 30 minutes of fighting, I called it a day and headed back in — with an even wore sputtering outboard.  How I was able to back Ilya down the fairway and into the slip is beyond me, but I guess I’ve done it enough that I was able to pull it off without hitting anything in the process.

Can’t say I’m looking forward to the tow and taking it to the marina for repair but I didn’t pay for this slip for this season for nothing!

Engine                                     40 minutes

Sails                                        Main reefed; Genoa half out

Chop, current                          Moderate to high

Wind                                       12

Time                                       .75 hours


Nice and Easy

May 19, 2017

First time out this year was nice.  I usually want the first day out to be simple since I tend to forget more than I remember during the winter months, and having a slight breeze rather than a big gust is the best way to start the season.

I headed out after work just to play and found Ilya as responsive as always, and all systems go.  I had originally intended to just sail back and forth in the river, but eventually thought about heading to the Bay.  Once I decided that, however, the way out became a tad more complicated.  Probably if I had intended to head that way at first, I could have made it out there completely.  On the other hand, I was able to sail right into the west basin, which was kind of fun, and found it quite easy to back into the slip with no trouble at all.

Engine                                     40 minutes-ish

Sails                                         Main reefed; Genoa mostly out

Chop, current                          Moderate

Wind                                       Low, about 7-8 mph

Time                                        2.5 hours