26 June 2006

Not Uneventful Sailing

VK's first time sailing with me was not uneventful. I wouldn't call it necessarily eventful, but it was not uneventful. V has sailed twice before on the Bay so he knew the winds could be a bit high and he certainly handled that well. Hopefully, the list of things that did happen doesn't cloud his future enjoyment of the sport.

Rigging the boat was simple enough, I pushed us off the dock since the port propwalk is in direct odds with the starboard turn I need to make to leave the dock. Got out into the marina basin with the main up but chugging along under power. Then the engine died, something that has never happened. No panic, just raised the jib, and sailed out. Short tacking out of the marina didn't really give me much time to explain to V what we were doing, but he did what he was supposed to pretty well.

Aaaah, out in open water, we set off on port tack and didn't have to touch the sheets for a while. The wind wasn't the 5 to 15 forecast but a comfortable steady 15. I haven't really had Lady Bug out in heavy air yet but at this wind strength she handles beautifully. I'd even say she was fast.

Once we got into the lee of Angel Island, the boat slowed considerably, we ate lunch and I checked on the engine. Started right up, no problem. Cool.

We tacked a few times to get upwind until I realized I'd timed our upwind slog exactly with a contrary max flood. Nice, there was no way we were going to make the starting line of the singlehanded transpac on time. Not a problem, let's just enjoy the day sailing, there was finally sun and the wind was pretty light. Even though that forecast did call for 15-25 in the afternoon.

As we were ghosting past Richmond, I noticed that EVERY single boat leaving there was reefed. Prudence got the better of me and I decided that we should reef. I have to go to the mast to reef so I just told V to keep her pointed into the wind. I don't think I ever told him how to do that. Reefing was quick (maybe 90-120 seconds), I then raced back to the cockpit, raised the halyard, and was curious how I did all this when the sail was full. Looking around, we'd spun around about 120 degrees and were smack dab in the middle of all of the boats leaving Richmond. Not too big of a deal we were still basically drifting; we got control of the boat, evaded everyone and headed back for Berkeley.

V asked how I knew where we were going. Instead of talking about my in-depth knowledge of navigation and the bay or my handy waypoints built into the GPS or showing him my charts, I pointed at a bunch of little sails in the distant fog and said, those guys are racing in the Berkeley Circle, we're heading towards them.

We launch into an incredible beam reach once we hit the wind. The boat is flying, the wind has built to a constant 25 (oddly enough there weren't really any gusts) and the whitecaps and chop were building. Great great sailing, the reef was keeping it from being scary and we were getting wet. You have to love it when you open your mouth to say something and you get a mouthful of San Francisco Bay Spray directly in there. Mmmmm, saltwater.

As we get closer, it becomes clear where all the Etchells that we'd been dodging all day were going. There's a big ass Etchells 22 regatta going on. As we get closer, I also realize that we are heading directly into the leadership of their fleet as they charge towards the committee boat finish line. I'm on starboard tack at this point and for a few brief moments think, I can weave my way in and out of there I have right of way. But then common senses says, there's about 2 dozen of them, 3 per boat, and they can probably kick our asses. So hard left and the committee boat is DDW. Any currents and I'm either going to accidentally gybe or get into the pack (for some reason gybing on purpose was not an option in my mind).

We just barely clear the committee boat and then the photo boat tries to run us down. Here I'm willing to give them only enough so that I pass on the non-photographing side of them, I'm already not getting the "thank you" nods that I expected from these rascals. Barely clear the photo boat but now my beautiful beam reach into the marina has been killed and my angles are shot, I'm going to have to make some Southing and then DDW into the marina.

Prudence says drop the jib so I do and fire up the A4. Since it's running so beautifully, I decide to sail downwind into the marina basin, drop the main and motor into the slip. We dodge a J24 that gets in my way (perhaps payback for the other week), round into the wind, drop the main, kick the engine into forward and start drifting sideways fast(remember that 25 knots?). Hmmm, throttle up. No forward motion? what? We're about two boat lengths from hitting some fiberglass, so I notice that V is a pretty strong guy, point the boat into the wind and say, "hey pull that white and red line as HARD AS YOU CAN AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN".

We get the main up, have to sail into the wind with main alone, and head towards A30. A few tacks and I'm going to make my pier, as I turn into the beam reach, I pop the vang, let out the main and hope I don't drift much, hard port and we settle into the dock like it was a bed after a long day's work. Perfect landing.

Every single time I've sailed into the slip, it was to prove to myself that I could. This time I needed to, with 25 knots wind no less. And it was painless. I am a badass.

Oddly enough, after docking, I fired up the engine again, put her into gear and she moved forward so the engine works, but the propeller just wasn't biting out there. I have some sort of problem with the transmission, but I don't know what.

A pretty not uneventful day sailing, but one hell of a time. Now, we'll see if the only person ever to ask to go sailing with me is willing to go again.


Tillerman said...

Man - you put on quite a show for him - I'm sure he'd want to come out again after a day like tht.

Zen said...

Dude U Rock!

Someone riding w/u may not think so, but sitting here, LOL and remebering my first time into the bay, in high winds, trying to dodge racers and change to a smaller headsail from a 160, with a sea sick first mate. I can say you rock!

Anonymous said...

A badass in a boat named "Lady Bug". Very cool.. :D Good job, and great story... Too bad the racers were so unappreciative of what you had to do.

Carol Anne said...

I'll sail with you, if you come sailing with me!

Shopping City Chaplaincy said...

A neat bit of seamanship!