Underway but not sailing 20 March 2008

I had the boat for almost a week and decided the day before Good Friday was going to be underway.

Oh yeh, my vessel is currently nameless. I’m debating different names and probably thinking about it too much.

My adventurous daughter was visiting for her spring break and was looking for some time in the Florida sun.

Untarping took little time at all with rolling it up. After doing a once over to ensure everything was secure, we headed out quickly.

I pulled into John Chestnut Park’s boat ramp on Lake Tarpon. Excellent space and ramp facilities. It’s convenient location was perfect for my first time, plus with wind conditions 15 to 25 knots, I felt it would be a safe bet for a preliminary session.

What was my goal? Basic launch, preliminary rigging, motoring for a while and no sails. I know that my skill with a brand new boat will take time to develop and the winds were high and the lake choppy.

Rigging was slow, but expected for the first time. Mast raising uses a second winch with nylon strap strung thru a roller at the top of a long 2×4 inserted in the upright opening on the tongue of the trailer. The free end has a hook attached to the mast sheet. I was hesitant on this with concerns for a twist. It did cause a mild pull to offcenter, but concerns for a mast twist were unfounded.

It took around an hour and I had mast, boom, rudder, roller furling and outboard in proper position and was ready to back into launch. Another 15 minutes and the boat was in the water, tied to a dock with my suv parked.

Once the outboard was started (with the choke on) it took longer to warm up than I expected. I confirmed forward and reverse worked and then let her loose. Unfortunately I misjudged and the lines were let loose before I had things under control. Wind up the channel began to force me into the ramp, so I accelerated into reverse and I began to twist sideways. The chaos continued for another two to three panicked minutes, with my accelerating forward or backward wildly trying to get my bearings with the tiller, avoiding the docks, attempting to head into the wind under throttle until finally I was making forward progress head into the wind.

From that point progress was incremental. I gradually lowered the dagger board not knowing it’s depth. It definitely improved tracking. At one point with the dagger board lowered only a foot and a half motoring direct into the wind we got some splash up the daggerboard trunk. Lowering it took care of that.

It was obvious once we cleared the channel that the winds were too high for my skill. So we motored north enjoying the wind and waves and occasional splash over the focs’l. The return leg had the wind at our backs and we made the channel in excellent condition. With my daughter on the forward line and myself on the stern line we pulled dockside in excellent position with no bangs, scares or panic.

All in all, I met my goals, modest as they were. Hopefully in the near future the winds will be cooperative and I can get underway again for more progress with more modest breezes. I don’t know if my daughter met her goals since the winds were up, the temperatures were down and it wasn’t very tropical.

Pull out was so much easier. Familiarity was obviously a big part of it.

I did have minor hitches.

A combination lock on the outboard screw mounts had become incredibly wedged against the lowering mechanism. I fudged with it for nearly a half hour when I finally agreed to let my intrepid daughter give it a shot. Embarrassingly enough she had it loose in less than five minutes. Grumbling something about big fingers, I was able to raise the outboard for towing in no time.

The return tow to storage, tarp covering and departure went smoothly.

Lessons learned:

1 – Don’t use a lock on the outboard mounting screws. Previous owner had a rope tied through them to prevent them from working loose. Gotta remount the rope.

2 – When lowering the mast, the companionway hatch has to be in the fully closed position. One of the lower fittings on the mast grinds into the hatch if its all the way forward.

3 – Pay close attention to the wind conditions. Even with no sails the winds can be a problem.

Author: 21Buzzards

Retired military reservist and corporate helping parent a grandchild. Sharing my evolution as age and priorities impact life.

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