I was once on an epic voyage from Vashon Islan to Olympia, my port of call.
We weighed anchor just after breakfast, just after the slack tide. The idea was for the three of us and the cheoy lee 27' to ride the flood all the way down. The forecast was less than spectacular, with winds on the lighter side. But ****, it was sunny. After 6 months of complaining of rain, it wasn't right to complain about wind once the day star showed up again. We sailed over to the entrance, full canvas, then flew the spinnaker on a run down the first leg. We made some progress over water, but the current must have been 6k. it's a weird when you feel like your going nowhere, until you look up at the bridge and realize your really flying. Once we passed that bridge though, the water opened up... and the wind! oh the WIND!!!!!
It died. Completely. The sails could hardly decide if they wanted to stay on the leeward side of the boat. One of us sat on the lee rail so they wouldn't have to worry so much about making up their mind. If we had any steering at all we would have tried to avoid the irregular water flows ahead. But we couldn't. We rode that flood straight into a web of vortexes, and we spun like a top. I took the 14' oar out, and tried to guide the boat into more favorable currents. It seemed that just over there the tide was an actual current and not just an assortment of whirlpools. It wasn't. perhaps i was seasick and was seeing things. More likely I was just dizzy. In the end we sat around for 3 hours, spinning, bobbing. Making jokes about how w've given new meaning to the term "go with the flow", and how sailing sucks and we should be able to transform our sailboat into a motor boat at the flick of a button. We also fiddled with everything, lines of all kinds. halyards, cunningham, topping lift, outhaul, sheets, anything. Damn sails are blown out, and they we probably wanted them flatter than they were even brand new. It began to feel like like we could be reaching... if was only a bit stronger...
We chatted and dreamed of big freaking sails (both the noun and the verb). So we lashed the spinnaker pole to the foredeck and poked it as far as we dared of the bow. Set the spinnaker on it flying, with the number 1 behind it, and the main up too. Basically the three largest sails in a configuration that doesn't really make any sense; it's a masthead sloop. It didn't help much, but it did something. We had steerage back, so we must have been making some kind of progress. We were probably there for another hour before the wind actually started to do something. And it couldn't have been at a better time, the high tide was there and the choice was looming: anchor and wait for the next flood, or get sucked back out with the ebb. We dropped one of our headsails (heh), because honestly it probably wasn't doing anything. In the end the wind was strong enough to fight the current, having already gone through the quickest part, and we eventually lazied our way back to the budd inlet, and sailed ever so slowly into the fairway, and sculled that 3.5 tons back into the slip. Better late than never.
No gods, no captains.
Last edited by CirclethatA; 07-23-2011 at 04:17 AM.