Yesterday I had a short but Big Freakin' Sail.
My friend Mike and I arranged to go sailling with the local club. The club changed things on us and only small boats (dinghys) were going to do a can race. We already had the day on our calendars and decided to just go sail around anyway. He texted me the day of and said "Winds 15-25knots predicted with rain, still want to go?" I replied "Sounds like fun to me!"
Despite checking NOAA, Sailflow, and a kite-surfing weather site, we got a little more than anyone predicted.... At one point, I pointed out to skipper Mike the line of dark ominous black clouds to windward that were fast approaching. We had gone out with a steady 17-24 knots of true wind and were under sail with one reef in the main and an 88% blade. Boat is a Catalina 400 (like Brian the moderator)
At the time I took this photo, I said, "I shall call this, the last photo of Mike seen alive."
Then, the clouds got worse. And closer.
I don't have a picture of what happened next, but bascally a completely opaque white wall of rain appeared and started swallowing up the landscape to windward, and then the sea in front of us. Visibility to windward quickly went from 1 mile, to a half, to 1/8 to nothing....
Mike and I (the most experienced people on the boat) conferred about the impending ass-kicking and figured we were reefed, the boat was sailling well, we had room, and we'd just let her rip and see what happens. Besides, the white wall was approaching so quickly, we didn't think we could get Reef 2 in before it hit, and we didn't want to be in the middle of reefing,
when it did hit. And hit it did!
For the newbies on the boat it was "This is fun!", followed by, "ummm... is the boat supposed to heel like that?"
During the acute shitski we saw true winds of 37knots and the suddenness with which it went from 25 to 35-37 was awesome. The boat heeled and felt a bit over powered, but nothing like a bad spinnaker broach in high winds. The boat was doing well. Still, reef 2 suddenly seemed like a really good idea.
Putting in reef 2 was a nightmare. The boat has the cruiser solution of "single line reefing" whereby one line goes through the reef clew AND the reef tack, and goes all over the deck back to a cockpit winch. Guess what? It didn't work. The friction was horrendous and small amounts of sail would get sucked into the reef tack by the reef line and jam everything up. Meanwhile the sail battens flogged the port (amsteel) lazyjack to death.
Seriously, some of this lazy-man's cruising stuff just doesn't work when the shitski hits the fanski. Yesterday's experience seriously validated my strong preference for having halyards and reefing lines AT THE MAST. (JohnEisberg I can actually see the grin on your face here)
Finally got reef 2 in, well enough at least, and continued sailling for another hour or so, in the SHEETING DRIVING rain with the wind being very gusty and squirrely from 25-35 true.
Then, after playing around skipper decided it was time to go in. He declared the voyage sucessful because we had broken stuff. (I really like sailing with Mike
) Besides the beast appeared to be done having its way with us, and the weather was quickly quieting down.
Then, we were treated to the most spectacularly vivid and bright rainbow I've ever seen in my life. At one point I was shirking my duties as a deck-slave in order to take photos, for which the skipper admonished me, followed almost immediately by a call from the skipper to get his camera.
Medsailor looking like a drowned rat.
Back at the dock we were treated to an awesome sunset.
This was my first sail of the season. I'd call it pretty sucessful:
We saw gale force winds.
Ass was kicked. (ours)
We broke stuff (somebody else's stuff, the best kind to break).
And we either scared off 2 newbies for life, or made lifers out of them.
Finally, my impression of the 1,000yard stare after facing the monster. I was really hard to keep a straight face while having this picture taken and I gotta say that it's really hard to try and look bad ass with rainbows in the background.
So, Smack. Is that good enough for a stamp?