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The Opalko was a "free" boat. I got it from my friend John in exchange for pressure washing his house and clearing his back yard of blackberry vines. When we went to get the San Juan 21 at the storage yard, it had three feet of water in it. *In* it. Fortunately, the inside of the boat is all glass and all the cushions and sails were in his nice dry garage. It took us an hour to empty the boat and get it ready to tow.
I spent two months cleaning it up, painting it, installing a bulkhead compass, a battery for the lights, etc. The sails were old but in good condition. I had a main, a jib and a 150%.
Though the San Juan 21 is basically a class racer, I outfitted her for cruising and day sailing fun. In order to single hand her I added weight to the boat. While the centerboard is 400lbs, with just me aboard, I could not keep her stable in heavier winds. So I built two wooden boxes that fit next to the centerboard trunk and placed 200lbs of barbell weights (four 50lb disks) in them. This firmed the boat right up. I could now easily single hand her in almost any wind without having to point to depower or reef too early.
My BFS story?
Aside from many a windy day with the rail near the water on close reaches and actually getting the 21 foot thing to surf and sometimes plane on broad reaches with large sail out, my hardest trip was the end of a four day sail around Lake Washington and the Puget Sound. The September weekend was forecast as overcast and windy.
I launched at Bellevue Marina and headed west, putting the sails up as soon as I could and headed for Lake Union. After making my way close to the cut and dropping sail, I motored through the cut, making my way to single hand it through the small locks and then to Shilshole. I spent the day sailing across the sound and back in 15-20kt winds, with the big dingy flying along. I think the waves were four to five feet at times. With the added ballast the tenderness was gone. She was steady but still fast on the water.
Spending the night in Shilshole, I returned the next day, crashing along south to Elliott Bay and past the city of Seattle. The winds were from the south west again and closer just over 20 kts. I reefed a little and let her surf back north on a broad reach, almost jumping waves. It was a blast.
At times I was quite glad that I had a PFD, harness and safety line attached to the cockpit. The boat was really flying along.
I made my way back through the locks (the big one this time) and spent the night in Lake Union under dark and stormy skies.
Weather reports called for periods of heavy rain and continued winds gusting above 20-25. The sailing was basically done for the trip as I motored along the cut back to Lake Washington. I couldn't help myself though and had to at least hoist the reefed main when I hit the lake. I wanted to sail back from the mouth of the cut to Bellevue. I didn't want to end my trip on the Johnson outboard.
So, the winds continued to blow and, in a reach, I once again jumped waves and contended with gusty conditions. The sky was black as hell and the spray was coming completely over the boat. I had the cabin hatches completely closed and I was definitely tied in with the safety line.
Then I got something the weather reports didn't call for and doesn't happen often. The low booming started in the distance and became louder and more oppressive as I was exactly dead center in the lake.
The first lightning bolts started falling, hitting Mercer Island in front of me and Mt. Baker behind me. There was *no* interval between the flash and the boom. The lighting storm was right there, right above me, along with the wind and the waves, which were worse in the lake because they were bouncing off Mercer Island. I think, to this day, I was in six footers, sometimes a little larger.
Screw sailing...It was getting too dangerous. I dropped the main and fired up the Johnson, which thankfully was larger than the boat needed and would give me a couple more knots of speed with the semi-planing hull. It pushed me pretty fast as I skirted under the lightning storms. There was nowhere to go except onward.
As I made it into the harbor with my floating lighting rod I tied up at the dock and got away from the boat. As I rested inside my truck, I watched lightning bolt after lightning bolt hit the lake, all across my previous path of sail. It continued for the next thirty minutes.
And that was the end of my BFS four day weekend on the Opalko.
I sold that boat a year later to buy some *land*. Idiot.
Now I'm selling my home to boy a boat again.