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post #145 of Old 08-20-2013
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Re: 2013 Sailing Season

Our Japanese visitor enjoyed our sail up to Philadelphia on Sunday. The rain held off, aside from a few sprinkles after lunch. There was a very mild breeze from ENE, but enough to gently tack up the river on sail alone. The city really sparkles in sunny weather, and though the day was not as gray as I feared (there was always a trace of blue in the thin clouds), the city did not sparkle for our guest like I had hoped.

I had originally planned to tie up at the Philly public dock upriver of Dave and Busters, and go to Cavanaugh's River Deck for lunch, but that's such a drab looking area with noise and smells from the bridge. So I spent a few bucks more and stopped at Penns Landing Marina, a much nicer place to walk around. After looking at a few of the restaurants (all a little more upscale than I wanted), we decided to go to Chart House.

The historic boats around the area made for a very scenic walk, except for one very embarrassing part. A few of the boats were Navy WWII ships, and the Becuna submarine had four Japanese flag insignias on its side. I walked past as quickly as possible without pointing them out to our guest, but I would not be surprised if she noticed her own country's flag on the vessel. After the fact, I confirmed what I suspected: The Becuna was credited with sinking three Japanese merchant ships, and contributed to the sinking of a fourth one (hence the four Japanese flags). OOPS!!!

Our return trip was an easy DDW sail. I put the bimini up to protect me from the occasional rain drop. The wind pretty much died after we made our final eastward turn a few miles from our slip. We furled the jib and fired up the motor. I kept the mainsail up while we motored, with it sheeted in tightly for a little boost, since the windex indicated that there was just enough to fill the sail. The Admiral went down below to start packing up, and I had her give me the bimini cover so I could fold up the bimini. With the boat on autopilot, I stepped up on the port cockpit seat and started to zip the bimini cover on. Right at that point, a sudden gust from the north hit our sheeted in mainsail and heeled us over at least 30 degrees, pulling the outboard out of the water and scaring the crap out of our visitor (and me). Fortunately I felt it coming and had dropped down off the cockpit seat - otherwise I could have lost my balance and gone overboard. I was able to struggle uphill to the helm, throttle down the motor, and immediately steer into the wind to stop the heeling and re-submerge the prop. Ordinarily the Admiral would have released the sheet automatically, but she was down below.

Moral of the story: When packing up on autopilot, always drop the mainsail before going aloft to fold up the bimini.

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
USCG Certified Captain, 50 Ton Master and OUPV
ASA Certified 101/103/104/105/106

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2001 Catalina 34MkII Tall Rig Breakin' Away, Universal Diesel M35B, Mantus 35 lb. anchor, sailing out of Rock Hall Landing Marina
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