09 October 2005

Perfect day for a sail

The jib trimmer's most important job is to keep the helm dry. Period, end of story. Forget proper sail trim, smooth tacks, calling puffs. Keep the freakin' helmsman dry.

My first day out in about 6 weeks and we'd been about 2 hours. The wind started light and had built to a perfect 15-18 by early afternoon. We were flying along, had a fun little crossing with the first Catalina 22 I'd ever seen on the Bay (sail number 12078 fyi) and decided to sail for a bit more and headed up towards some race starting by Treasure Island. Bob issues a blanket statement to absolve himself from having to call waves, "at some point we will get wet". Like that relieves him of the duty to keep me dry.

So, within a minute of this proclamation, KERSPLASH, we both get drenched from the waist up. Of course, we had both been watching the airshow and so no call out from my jib trimmer (which of course would have given me time to steer into the wave a bit, bringing the moment of ultimate wetness forward into the jib trimmer's position).

Now, in the title I said it was a perfect day for a sail, but not that perfect. I'm not going to keep beating into 15-18 knots of wind when I'm drenched. Not when my speed-demon boat is going 5.5 knots, creating a veritable gale's worth of windchill. Heck no.

So as long as I'm announcing each position's most important job, here's this one: the helm's most important job is to be comfortable. At all costs. Including, but not limited to: easy access to drink holders, padded racing shorts, and downwind sailing when wet. The decision was made: "bearing off, ease the jib...now now now".

But the story doesn't end there. We still had that 15-18 knots of wind as we sailed into the marina 45 minutes later. Now, it's been six weeks but I'm pretty sure I still know how to sail into my slip. Wrong. Remember that 15-18 knots, well it's still there. As I turn the boat upwind into the slip, I casually announce, "we're coming in a bit hot." Now, that's an understatement. My neighbor looks up from her varnishing like a deer in headlights...she looks back down at her paintbrush probably thinking, "if I just keep varnishing, they'll go away...varnish varnish varnish".

Anyway, we're still coming in hot despite her disbelief and 5 feet from the slip it dawns on me that there's going to be some fiberglass repair going on down at the marina very very soon. Then, out of nowhere, the boathook appears off the starboard rail, Bob pushes us off from the dock, jumps off in one motion holding onto the pier with one hand, the shrouds with the other and pulls us safely into the dock. I'm still clinging to the mainsheet when I realize we're in safely. And no fiberglass damage. My neighbor is still varnishing, eyes shut tight, humming some little "don't hit my boat" mantra that I can't quite make out.

I guess I had it all wrong with my jib trimmer, sometimes it's better to be wet in one piece than the other way around.


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Anonymous said...

I don't know which arm hurts the most. The one that was wrapped around the piling or the one that pulled Polka Dot into the slip.

With that said. It was a great day after six weeks of no sailing. But Noah and his mother had priority.