Join Date: Sep 2009
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1st Day Under Sail
Saturday was the first day my wife and I sailed First Light without a deckside chaperone. Plenty of dockside help...thank you John! We cleared our slip at Timber Neck at ~1130 Saturday morning with no help. No one else in the marina was sailing.
Don't NOAA was broadcasting 12-13 KT South winds for parts somewhere in the Chesapeake. Cloudy conditions with the sun peaking through at random moments. Cloud patterns were consistent w/ no dark build-ups on the horizon.
We motored out of Broad Creek with confidence at 2 knots. Had to quickly power on instruments and remove covers to determine depth. Will have to put that one on the checklist for things to do before casting off. Good NavAids in the creek. Red-right-return, red-right-return, red-right-return! Left my sounding line at home:-) We notice a sailor backing his boat out of his slip under sail, solo. Two masted, small mast aft.
Made it through the channel into the Rappahannock River with no travail. We are up to 4 KTS on power. We don PFDs. Once we cleared the last beacon we turn East towards the Chesapeake. Not the right direction. The missus has her fingernails burried into the fiberglass! We steered West up the Rappahannock instead. Moment of truth...time to hoist sail and cut the engine!!
Decided to try Jib first and work toward Main if weather is permitting. After a memorable but terrifying few minutes we have the Jib flying and are heading toward the bridge. We learned a lot about winches, winch handles, and heeling boats in a flash.
OK. My wife doesn't like new things...especially heeling boats. The really nice winch handle about took a dive. The aluminum toerail stopped it. The tears were about to roll. Time to man-up. I dumped the adrenaline and calmly reassured her that we were safe. Took the time to teach her how to stand helm, trim the sail, pointed out reconizable nav points and use the auto-pilot. What a gal! We walked through the engine start/stop procedures several times. We tacked and came-about until a comfort level was obtained by all.
We were sailing an oval in the river, avoiding other boats, flying spray and chop. We were making 4-6 KTS the whole time and starting to take gusts of over 20 KTS. There were other sailboats out, under various conditions of sail. When the clouds started darkening to the South, we decided to head in. The rain began to fall sporadically.
What is it about folks racing through the channel to Broad Creek? I had a 40+ footer sailboat under motor try to move ahead of us as we entered the channel. We clearly had the queue but not in the other skippers mind. I backed off the throttle and let him proceed. Didn't want to slow another crew down by following us. We were motoring at 4 KTS. Best to error towards polite in my mind. We are new members of a new community and want to represent well. Motor boats are zooming all about.
Docking wasn't pleasant. No damage and no injuries but not pleasant. The current was manageable but the wind was whistling in the masts at the marina. We have to back in a long "U". My nature is not to gun the throttle at critical points of maneuver. After several attempts and dock guidance from John we secure the boat. I'm washed out. John takes time to help us get our docklines squared away. He even loans us a new 20 foot line to replace a heavily chaffed one. What a neighbor!
We have a quick nosh of PBJs and Pepsi, then wash and secure First Light. Shut all hull thru valves, power down all equipment, secure hatches, ports, lines and sheets. We have a portable propane stove in the cabin so we double-check to insure bottle is stored in the anchor well. Not happy with the furled Jib so refurl. Check the docklines for play. Time to go home and pass-out candy to the neighborhood kids. Halloween is upon us.