This weekend was simply awesome! I had a late start due to a social event that occurred on Friday. Luckily - managed to clear up the boat just in time (well almost). Crew arrives (PSSG Event I Hosted
) and we do a detailed safety seminar, then depart. I was truly appreciative of the attentiveness and questions asked during such. I always do a safety lecture when I have crew that has never sailed with me. It sets the tone for the boat, and when you have varying degrees of experience on a sailboat - anything can happen at anytime, and preparation is the key to a safe - fun trip.
Stop at the marina's fuel dock to take on ice and last minute items and off we go. Did a bit of a sailing instruction period out in the harbor and then started pointing to Vashon on the West Seattle side. For those that never cruise around Vashon Island - the area is a vortex of sort, but tidal knowledge is crucial when determining which way to head. The tide always goes one direction around the island. Always coming in on the West Seattle side, and always going out on the Peninsula side - regardless if the tide is actually coming in or out.
Everyone jumped in on managing trim, helming and being look-outs. Was amazing how quickly we managed to get everyone comfortable. It took almost no time at all to have everyone handling the boat as if they had sailed for 20 years - and I have a complicated rigging system
Was a nice sail up to the Vashon Ferry, light winds, but we tacked and pointed well. Then a storm blew through and we got her trimmed up and 9 knots at one point but at 22+ knots of wind we fell off a bit and balanced the boat and did 8.5 knots for a good 45 minutes before the actual Thunderstorm passed by us.
Then we had no wind passing Des Moines Marina and rounding the lighthouse so, we motored and got a little bit of hail for an additional "weather experience".
Approach Tacoma and as suddenly as the storm appeared - it was gone and nothing but rainbows. I can't tell you how incredible it was. You could see the "pot of gold" on them as the rainbows framed the waterway. But - not just a single rainbow - at one point we had three of them all at the same time... was simply breath taking.
Gig Harbor was simply amazing. Nice protected waters, and again - rainbows followed us (picture above is us coming into the harbor). Arabella's is a bit down into the harbor. We had reservations for C-24 - a port side tie - but staff met us as we pulled in and denoted we had a starboard tie instead. Waters were so calm that I just parked the boat and had lines swapped and then proceeded with the docking.
Marina is incredibly clean and no hassle. Free electric, water and free hot showers! It is also impeccably landscaped. If you have never been here - it definitely is the best looking marina in Gig Harbor - and very well maintained.
We settle in, take off the wheel to give room in the cockpit - and then head of to the Tides Tavern. Local hang-out and within walking distance of the marina (you can also tie up to it as well). Its your typical bar fare. Portions I thought were small for the appetizers. We ordered two plates of calamari - with me thinking it would be enough for the 6 of us but hardly was a snack, but then again we had worked up an appetite. But we wined and dined - courtesy of Steve (thanks again).
Head back up to the boat and did the cockpit / saloon social hours. Clear starry night and great time. But morning came early - and we went through as many pots of coffee as we did wine bottles (thanks Mat and Dana for sharing). I cooked up a fairly decent breakfast consisting of grits, sausage and gravy, a small salad, fresh fruits, and some pan seared mushrooms medley with cranberries, dates and dried red tomatoes. One of the comments that I was flattered to hear was Julie's: "This is like a floating Bed & Breakfast".
Everyone showers, cleans up and re-stows. Wheel is back on, and we do some un-docking / line handling training and cast off. The wheel is making funny noises but we make it out to the channel with no incident and then raise the sails. Suddenly - there is NO STEERAGE. No panic from me, the boat is just doing slow circles and everyone manages the sails without even me having to be worried.
Take off the wheel - to try to investigate and using my hands try to firm up the course by twisted the shaft. A chock or something slides into the groove of the shaft and had fell to the deck. Put everything back together, and SUCCESS!
We go wing to wing for a bit just by sail and trying to run downwind. Winds were to light to manage the shape though. We then rigged the pole and set the Genoa into it. That worked much better and we did that for most of the leg.
Julie cooked an awesome lunch for us, and for the first time we lit the oven! I had never knew how so I learned something from that one. Toasted bread, brauts with a vegetable medly, and asparagus was the meal. All the while, we decide to start reaching instead and we kept the boat balanced so that cooking could be done as the wind was kicking up.
After lunch - we decide to run the .25 oz spinnaker. HUGE safety / procedural lecture on this one. Probably over done - but I don't think so. One has to truly respect spinnakers because (to me) its the most dangerous sail in our arsenal. I opted to do it with these guys and gals as:
1. They had demonstrated through-out the two days of sailing tremendous understanding of all aspects of the positions they had tried.
2. They were incredibly receptive to the safety concerns and procedural requirements that I needed to be followed to the letter.
3. 1 knot of wind - if something had gone wrong there wasn't actually too much that could happen if a mistake was made. Of course I didn't tell them that until we got it launched.
So, we double check - triple check, and do all of our checks again. All hands on. Set the pole and we hoist. Awesome job - it looked like we had done it before. And it was the first time I had run a Symmetrical
Mat and Dana enjoying their hard work.
We toodled around on the sym for a bit, then motored in.
All in all - a totally awesome weekend. Every kind of weather one could experience, and basically we went through every sail trim you could hope for (we even did a practice run of reefing the sails (after the steering wheel incident)...
Dana, Nancy, Julie, Mat and Steve - thanks so much for being guests on board - was tremendous and I owe it all to you for being such excellent crew!