There are stories and then there are STORIES. The latter being that kind of tale that is told with an underlying truth throughout - but embellished, to keep the story going. With that said - this is MY STORY...
Last weekend was going to be the last actual weekend sail for a few weeks. It would be my last weekend, not because of anything dire in regards to the boat. For those that know me, will realize that during the summer, my weekends start on a Monday and end the following Sunday evening. Due to the summer's end and client needs, my weekends were now to follow those of the normal 9-5 er.
It has been true that as of the last few weekend trips and throughout some of the races, that "Hello Gorgeous" has been out on the water - motoring with grace and sometimes sailing but always with an adventure (costly ones at that). Although during the sailing portions (and some of the motoring) it would of been no surprise to have found pictures of my sailing yacht plastered on the home page of Sailinganarchy.com with a caption underneath it of : "What is this".
Truth is, they emailed me after seeing some of the photos of our sail plan. For those of you late to the stories I post: I have been flying a "jiblet". The jiblet is actually my Catalina 27's X10 Kevlar sail, that was used as a last resort to make sure we could race and sail after jamming the ProFurl roller furling system and it subsequently becoming an automatic pez dispenser. And if you have never seen a tiny little hank on jib on a almost 40 something foot boat - with just the head and one clew secured - it is a sight to behold. SA did ask if they did feature the photo (apparently some spies got pictures of it from the local North Sails loft in town) - could I offer up a prize for whom got it right.
[The jiblet in action - amazingingly secret weapon #14 in our race kit]
Sadly, I couldn't and that must of took some of the air out of the publicity, because it was ultimately replaced with the "Chick Sailor of the Week" which was taken at the bi-annual Portuguese crossbreeding regatta.
At any rate, the weekend plans were all good to go - kinda. With the roller furler out of action, and yet again the halyard replaced the weekend before - wrapped at the masthead. Iit was not looking good for sailing.
Luckily, Brian decided to pop in that Thursday afternoon even after I stated - "No sailing today bud and if you come down its just a social as there is so much work to do, that I have no idea where I could use your help."
And the latter is so true. I had started on Monday doing what should of been a simple wiring project to upgrade the gauge of wire to the water pump. The water pump when running - draws so much power that it flickers the lights and cycles the stereo to no end.
Naturally, in order to get to that project I had to lift the floorboards up and discovered the bilge practically full of water - yet again. So, it was back to creating a better bilge pump system. Then the list went on to fixing the drain of the sink, fixing the sudden no flush mode of the toilet, tracing why there were cut wires in the bilge and where did they once go - etc...By the time I managed to knock a item off the list there was another and so forth.
You know what I mean too. Everyone has had that new car that 3 months after the warranty goes suddenly there is a oil leak in the driveway, a squeal here and there and soon everywhere, some window won't roll down and when you turn on your lights the windshield wipers go off. And if that isn't enough suddenly the basement of your domicile floods out, your tv goes bonkers, and you discover that someone hacked your yahoo account and is now posting dirty pictures of you in the erotic section of craigslist - along with your phone number..
Well - it really wasn't as bad as that.
Needless to say, Brian volunteered to see if he could fix the furler , while I worked on the jungle of projects and constantly answering my phone. He didn't get anywhere, other than confirming it was broke when he started the attempt at fixing and it was more broke after tearing it apart. He did get the halyard untwisted and we ended up drilling new set screws, so at least the genoa could be hanked up on the furler without more pez being dispensed.
That at least infused me with encouragement. And that night I finished all the projects that were critical and awaited for my guests for Friday.
I was kinda excited about it because this weekend was going to me with "Boathook Hooker" and a few other homeless lasses. That is the thing about living in a town where dating is impossible - there are a lot of homeless types around. Usually when I pop into a Starbucks, and I see these ladies just hanging out at the patio. The sat there usually while not so much enjoying the only kind of umbrella that doesn't come in a foo foo drink. Feeling sorry for them, I'll casually drop some spare change in their cups.
Really, how could I not with signs such as "I Can't afford Coffee - Anything will help", "Poor and Caffeine deprived just give me enough for a Mocha", and my favorite "Buy me coffee - sugar and cream is free"...
So, I have been on second name basis with most of the cuter ones. I always hold off on the judgment of cute until they have at least had a free shower at the YMCA though. Lucky for me, it was easy to recruit them for the sail.
The only major concern these gals had was, "You are paying for this date, yes?"
Upon which I smugly replied knowing that I could afford the guest marina bill, "Yes, I have the trip paid for."
So, that Friday afternoon there was me with the "Boathook Hooker" and the caffeinated homeless lasses. In my defense of the hooker label, that is what she decided to label herself as (because I don't want to offend any Palin supporters or anything - so straight up on that). I don't make this stuff up and wowsers what she can do with both ends of that boat hook while dressed in fishnet stockings and hooker boots... I'll digress because this is about big sails and not other biggie items..
Brian comes along for the ride as well, although a bit uneasy about my sudden position of "dateless" to "all the woman say they are on a date". I probably should of gotten the cue from Brian when he then asked, "Why are they asking me if I want a "date" and then trying to explain to me that its like a "car date" but on a sailboat.
I had no idea what they meant either. But then again I had my Bassett Hounds onboard as well so wasn't paying much attention to the conversation.
[my bassett's. Lucky to the left, DeForrest to the Right]
We get "Hello Gorgeous" out the slip and out to the harbor. We raise the genoa. I should say attempted with herculean efforts because it took a good 15 minutes to grind that baby to the top. Try as we might, it was just a long haul to get it to the top. Indeed that Harken replacement will and is on order.
After exhausting ourselves, we had the ladies raise the main and off we went. Wind blowing a good 16-20 and finally full sails. It wasn't long before the rails were dipping into the water and SOG was 8.5 knots.
Now if there is one thing you should know about Bassett Hounds, is they do not like to hike. At 95 lbs a piece, they both wanted to slouch in the cockpit seating that was the lowest point of the boat. I can tell you that sail trimming with this kind of crew - teaches you how to exactly level off the boat and still sail with speed. Luckily the ladies minded the hiking and I was tickeled when I yelled to them after tacking, "Hike you skirts" - they did just that for the first two times...made the view a lot nicer.
We sailed up to Shilshole to drop Brian off. He was wanting to grab a boat for the Friday night race, and if he couldn't crew, then he'd just walk to the bus. I was kinda ok with that as after all he had at least put some work into the boat the evening before.
What I didn't want to do was take down the genoa. After that 15 minutes of pain raising it, come hell or high water, I was gonna get him to the dock with out dropping it.
The problem with that was however, the wind was from the north and the entrance to Shilshole Marina is practically North to South. But I had a plan, and I fired up the iron genny to help compensate.
We get to that entrance and start passing the fishing pier when I noticed that there was the boat ramp pier just right there. I suggested that we do that instead of going all the way down to the fuel dock.
And thus we did. The wind still blowing a good 12-16 with the genoa up I use the wind as much as I could to get us just close enough. But it wasn't in the cards and I constantly had to pull reverse and forward and give more throttle. Luffing didn't do a dang thing because as soon as I did it wanted to gybe and I had all of about 50 feet to do this.
It must not of looked good because all those folks that were on the fishing pier, ran away from the pier in a hurry leaving there fishing poles dangling.
We got it though, I finally backed up just enough to grab a handful of mussels from the pier pilings of the fishing pier, and put the boat sideways. Wind blew us in and Brian jumped off.
We then made our way back out, hoisting the main and made our way to Poulsbo.
It was a beautiful sunset. Full moon rising behind us as the effervescent hues of oranges, reds and purples filled the westerly skyline and slowly ebbed away with the setting sun. That sunset was almost as colorful as the crew I had on board actually. As I endured hearing their life stories I was reminded how many times you can here such a story - it always changes but is always the same - much like a sunset.
Night time navigation is the trickiest part of sailing and overall - motoring. I did my standard safety lecture about everyone's responsibility. Emphasizing that everyone is a lookout because things can happen. I told them about the different kinds of flashing lights and what they mean, and how close but also how far away things will look all at the same time. Upon which one of the ladies quipped, "You mean kinda like watching out for cops".
I reckoned if that helped her - it helped me so I said yes.
The first few hours went by uneventful. The wind had died down so we dropped the sails and decided to motor. I let the gals drive - especially that red haired boathook hooker. She seemed to really get it and she did not really reference a lot of things I didn't understand. Plus she had actually brought food and the kind of beverages I like.
We make under Agate Bridge - and that moon was brilliant. Lighting up the waterway like mercury lamps on a mini putt putt course.
I turned the helm over to that red haired gal with only one stipulation: "Keep a close eye out and stay in the center of the channel"
I needed to verify our position on the Raymarine E-120 Nav display. The goal was Port Orchard. Try as I might though - the whole system was mind boggling slow. Between the 3-D re-draw rate and constantly trying to figure out why I couldn't find Port Orchard Marina on the display although the area was listed as "Port Orchard Bay"...
So I would constantly check on the crew topsides. Come back and fiddle with the navigation stuff.
I finally decided - Poulsbo, as I know that area.
I get ready to use the head and then come up to make my "command decision" when suddenly DeForrest - one of my 95 lb Basset Hounds comes leaping at me from the cockpit through the companionway.
That was about all I can honestly say that I know that happened at that point as things went dark.
I could hear commotion all around and peeking through the forward hatch I saw Lucky, my other hound doing the attack mode on what appeared to be a 900 lb sea lion on the foredeck. I'll give it up to the sea lion - they can bark louder than my dogs.
[one of the buoys with sea lions - on the return home]
I wasn't really too concerned about Lucky as he is a hunter by breed and I had seen him and the rest of the pack take down an 8 foot gopher at my farm in PA.
That is when I heard the rest of the commotion and there was one of the ladies whose fishnet stockings had snared the lifeline and she was actually hanging onto a buoy with one leg being still attached to a slow moving boat. That's when "Boathook Hooker" used her boat hooking skills and landed her on deck like she was a marlin.
But that is not actually what happened you see. In the brief 15 seconds that I was knocked unconscious, that is what "I saw". The mind plays wonderful tricks on one sometimes.
I awoke from the unconscious daze to find Deforrest licking my face as if to say "You saved my life man!".. And that was true - when I caught him, I stumbled back and was lifted into the air with finally being knocked flat onto my back onto the saloon floor. Never even noticed or felt that my head had engaged the saloon table which probably explains why I was knocked out.
I had no idea what happened.
"Damn, what made Deforrest suddenly want to jump below?", I asked the red haired helms gal.
"You didn't feel it?", she said soberly.
"No - all I know is that I was lucky I caught Deforrest as that is a 8 foot drop..", I replied.
"I ... I..", she tried to say.
"You what?", I coach her.
"I hit that buoy...", and the sobs come out like rain from a thunderstorm on a sunny day.
"You mean that one I told you to stay away from?"
"Yes, I kept watching it, I had it in my sites, and then it disappeared and thought we passed it.", still sobbing she continues "Then I nailed it head on. You disappeared and I thought I killed you!"
"Damn I never felt a thing.", I state somewhat amazed.
"I am so glad you are alive... that is all I could think about.", she said with great remorse.
The rest of the crew was silent and I checked everyone all out. Lucky had been lucky as he was in the cockpit sleeping and was nuzzled in comfortably.
There was a bit of uneasiness as I made my way forward, my head still dripping blood. The anchor was knocked loose and was hanging off the side, and the anchor roller that was crushed during the "port tack on your bow" was even more crushed. Check the anchor locker no water pouring in. I then stumble down below and start checking for anything that would indicate a flooding condition.
[Day 2 after the head on hit - my head. It was totally healed in two days because I heal abnormally fast, the yellow is where I peeled the scab off to make for a nicer picture.]
Smoke a few cigarettes and decide to pep talk everyone. After all, things do happen and at this point it was useless to be upset over a possible concussion. The dogs were ok - no one but me suffered any blood loss and "Hello Gorgeous" is a stout boat even if she is a racer / cruiser. Italians do it best and redhead are always "point on".
We make it to Poulsbo and everyone but the "Boathook Hooker" leaves stating that they will never sail again.
That was ok because I counted something like 39 references to dates and cops and Poulsbo Marina is pretty nice. Would of been weird dock conversations in the morning.
So the red head, the dogs and I still continued the weekend. Poulsbo that evening and morning and then it was off to Bremerton. I made her still take the helm because you have to douse those fears as they happen less one will be scarred for life.
[can't really tell tell - or is that tell tale]
And that is my story within the STORY.
[Sailor winch dog]
Brian did text me that Sunday Evening with "I am still walking" and I think I may of gotten the better end of that one because I am still sailing...