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



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