Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: North Texas
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Speaking of landings, I have one from a few weeks ago.
The wind forecast was for 15-20 knts in the morning then really blow in the afternoon. This is fine for me since the high is for over 100F. I figured I could get some sailing in, be back by 1pm before it got hot. It'd be pleasant, I'd be comfortable. Lovely. So, I drag myself and Penelope out of bed and to the lake.
A sailing instructor stopped me after I had unloaded Penelope. She’s a unique boat, being that she's English, and always starts a conversation. He made mention of how hard it must be single handing her then spent 20-30 minutes yammering on about how wonderful he is then lets me go. The day is already warming up a bit by the time I get to the boat.
The outboard doesn’t exactly hum along like it should, but still reliable so I've put off some maintenance. It has a new plug, a clean carburetor, but the fuel filter could use replacing.
My procrastination caught up with me that day.
The sailing instructor had watched me yank on the outboard, jiggle some things, peek under the cover and saw that I had given up on it having determined its problem wasn’t something I would fix on the lake. The wind was going as predicted so I figured I'll launch and retrieve under sail.
He yells from his car, "Motor won't start?"
As I tossed off dock lines, I yelled back, "Nope." I gave a hearty shove. He laughed and gave me a thumbs up. I raised the reefed canvas, trimmed up and off we went. As fast as we were moving, I figured I could go to one end of the lake and come back. It was going to be a fun day.
As predicted, we screamed to the other side of the lake. And then the wind died.
Hmph. I shook out the reef. Well, sometimes you need be patient.
My patience wore out an hour later. The wind was not 20 kts as predicted. Maybe 3. Or less. It wasn't even kicking up the telltales at times. The 3 knts then went to 0. But suddenly pipes up to 1 knt.
Shoot, it's hot out even with my feet over the rail trailing in the water. The sun is straight up in the air and I have no shade from the sails. I try the motor again. Nope. Not even a “putt-putt” from it. I pulled out the oars. I learned I need to practice rowing. The telltales are still quiet.
I eye the lake water as to whether or not it's safe to drink. I decide not to. I manage to pick up some wind as I sucked down the last of my water.
Slowly I make way towards the boat ramp. About 100 yards out, the wind shifts in the worst possible direction for me. Okay, I'll alter course and strategy. I get to the side of the ramp, about 100 yards away, and again, the wind shifts. Frustration is now heating up my already sunburned face. I manage to get out of the invisible hole I was in and am now quite hot, thirsty and frustrated. Finally, a little breeze that’ll work for me and I'm headed back to the boat ramp, ready to land this thing.
I'd rather have just one sail to deal with, but without everything up, I don't make progress. Landing with three sails, a tiller and two hands it is. Maybe I can use my feet for something? I wished I had one of those super long middle toes I could use as a thumb.
Ridiculous this is. Who thought of this?
I'm about 40 feet away from the dock. The wind kicks up enough to heel the boat over. This is the worst possible time for this! Where in the eff was this wind all day long??
I let the main and mizzen loose. The jib is still doing a fine job of pulling the boat forward. Some swimmers on shore have turned into lookie-loos as Penelope comes charging towards the dock.
I slacken the jib. I still have to hang onto it to get some power since I don't have much momentum in this boat. I'm standing up with one hand on the jib, finessing it to get the right amount of power from this gusty shifty four-letter-word wind I suddenly have and a dock line in the other. The centerboard is up a bit to avoid grounding so Penelope is sliding sideways as we come in. The tiller is between my knees and as the dock comes up, I let the jib go, cut the tiller over to move the stern closer to the dock and lasso the dock cleat which I have been dreaming about for the past four hours. The sails are flogging themselves to death. The wind shifts as I’m tying off the bow and the sheet lines start slapping me in the face. I finally get the sails down and take a seat. I don't remember ever being so happy to see a freaking dock.
Later, I take a look at the motor. The safety clip is not quite all the way in. Sonofa...
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A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships are built.
1974 Alcort Minifish-Minifish
2001 Drascombe Lugger-Penelope
2004 Hunter 260-Miss Muffet