Good Day vs Bad Day of Sailing

Started by Ed, Sep 10, 2023, 02:21 PM

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   Our first sail since early July and to say it was different would be an understatement.  It's been too hot up in North Georgia to do anything except motor out and swim in Lake Allatoona and with the grandkids we seldom have time.  Anyway, on Friday I uncovered Strange Bird, another boat name with a nod to Jimmy Buffett, our Sea Pearl Trimaran, gave her a good wash and loaded a few things that are kept in the garage.  Saturday morning we tossed the cooler in the truck, toted the outboard up and laid it in the truck bed, and hooked up for the 30 minute drive to the lake around 8:30.  Kept our speed to 65 mph and arrived at the boat ramp with cool hubs at around 9:00.  We were a little rusty rigging the boat and kept answering questions from all the bass boat types (turned out there was a bass boat tournament going on) so we didn't pull into line to launch until 9:30. Sitting in line I was going over the launch procedure when I realized I didn't have a winch handle in my driver's door pocket.  I had the truck detailed last Thursday and pulled everything out of it so they could clean it better, except a few things under the back seat.  Pulled the baby seat out, rummaged around under the back seat, and came up with a big pipe wrench as the only option for the winch.  Finally got in the water and pulled the boat to the side since the tiny courtesy dock had people loading for a month on the water, or so it seemed, and after parking in the nearly full lot, which holds probably 50 trucks with trailers as well as 30 or so cars.  Made it down to the now empty triple boat ramp and we motored, uneventfully, out into the lake enroute Harbor Town Marina where nearly everyone in the club keeps their boats in slips but realized we would be too late for the pre-race Skippers Meeting.  Made it in and tied up on the corner of the fuel dock so I could touch bases with Race Coordinator Tim to pay my $5, ask around about borrowing a winch for the trailer, and took Piglet, our deaf and blind 14 year old long haired dapple dachshund, for a walk.  Got back on the boat and followed a few other boats out.

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   Once on the water we were surprised by 6 to 8 kts of wind with gusts to 10 – 12.  Strange Bird does not like light air, and I haven't hung my new mizzen staysail yet, so we were happy.  The course was a triangle set at .4 mile intervals.  We are cruisers, not racers, but had done a couple of races with our ComPac 19 and then one with Strange Bird, so, while not experienced racers, we were familiar with the club rules, even though we missed the Skippers Meeting, or so we thought.  First race we were fiddling around and got to the start line probably 10 minutes late, and as we crossed the imaginary line between bouys we started our timer, just like we had done before.   Caught up and passed a couple of boats on the downwind leg and felt good about our finish.  Race Coordinator started calling for times on the radio and I gave ours as 40.4 minutes for the 1.2 mile course (2 laps made it 2.4 miles but you know how that is, we probably sailed triple that distance) and clearly stated we had started our timer as we crossed the start line, since we were faster than the bigger boats were reporting (Catalina 25, 2 each Hunter 23.5's, Precision 23, etc.) as we had done in past races with the club.  Only comment was from someone that said we were cooking downwind.  Got set up for the second race, started from the opposite end, we were late to the start line again, but when you are racing yourself for time it doesn't really matter when you get there, or so I thought.  We blew the turn on the west bouy when we tacked just a tad early to take it to port, had to jibe, sail up and away, tack back, and just make it past before starting the downwind leg.  Anyway we came in last, by a lot.  The wind had picked up a little and all the monohulls were heeling way over but we just loped along.  Started reporting times and we were a few minutes longer than most, which I thought odd, with 44.6 minutes.  The Race Coordinator started questioning me on the radio, and I reiterated that we were starting our clock when we crossed the starting line.  A couple of seasoned racers started saying that races weren't done that way, and I got the feeling they thought I was cheating.  Anyway, Tim the Race Coordinator, got on and told me that they had changed to regular racing starts since the summer races, which we didn't do, and I should start my timer when the race started, regardless of where we were.  I apologized, reminded them that I had missed the Skippers Meeting and to scratch our times.  The 3rd race was different for us.  We got outboard of Chris Benke, Precision 16, who knows racing and shadowed him at the start.  Got the timer going at the start, realized the wind had shifted a little to the SW and since Strange Bird does not point worth a crap, we watched Chris just leave us in his proverbial dust.  Again we didn't go deep enough to end up above the west bouy and started another jibe to get around when people started reporting lightning from the storm clouds approaching from the NE, straight for the boat ramp we launched from. 

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   We withdrew, took in the sails, and motored for the ramp.  Got there, ramps were crowded, courtesy dock was overcrowded, kayaks and bass boats were waiting.  Storm was closing, but we finally got our turn.  Powered into the ramp - I put a keel guard on the bow since the courtesy docks in GA suck - and it did its job. I held the boat while Becky went back onboard to pull a leeboard and the rudder up.  Got the truck, backed down, jumped out and helped Becky push the boat out, dunked the trailer so far my back tires were two feet in, pulled the boat on hard and got it within a foot of the winch post.  There was a bass boat next to me pulling out, and I asked if I could use their winch handle to pull my boat up.  Guy didn't know they were removable but had no problem with my using it after I showed him how.  Got the boat secure and motored up into the parking lot, that was full except for one spot that a guy was "saving".  Parked in front of a bunch of parked trucks/trailers and unrigged.  Just as I finished getting the boat strapped down the sky opened and rained hard for the ten minutes it took me to pull the boat 4 inches closer using the pipe wrench.  Got on the road and 3 miles away the roads were completely dry.  I was soaking wet but Becky and Piglet were dry.  Got home and rather than stowing the boat the way we usually do, which is pull in on upper driveway take trailer off truck, put it on trailer dolly, back it manually around about 130 degrees, put it back on the truck, and back it into the portable garage and cover it, I decided to try backing it up with trees on both sides.  I had Becky positioned behind the boat and realized after about a 70 degree swing of the trailer I couldn't do it that way.  Becky came out from behind the boat as I pulled forward a few feet and started yelling.  Got out and the starboard ama had punched the right rear quarter panel in about 5 inches.  Crap, after looking at it I think it might come out with a PDR guy nearby, so I'll check on Monday.  It's sailing season again for us, so next weekend we are going to overnight on Carter's Lake about 45 minutes north of us.  Not sure if we'll do anymore "racing" but for sure will do the sail alongs to restaurants and anchorages with the club.  As Travis Votaw often said, "Sail On!"

Captain Kidd

Nice report. I understand what "a little rusty rigging" means. Don't get to sail as often as I would like. Looking forward to some fall wind. I plan to go up to Dayton, TN for the Glen-L boat builders annual "Gathering" this weekend. Most boats that show up are power boats, but there are usually some real beauties!