6 September Sailing … Almost

I’ve been suffering from cabin fever. I’ve been dying to get out on the water. I’ve been conservative enough to ensure I don’t endanger myself with setting sail in severe weather.
So, hurricane Hanna just passed Florida. Ike was due in a few days. The weather prediction was less than 20% rain, fantastic! NOAA predicted clear skies and 10 knot winds, light but not that bad.
I conscripted my son into being my crew. As a parent I didn’t violate maritime law. He didn’t get the mickey loaded beer or the bag over the head with several thugs to subdue him. His time before the mast would be a single afternoon.
It took longer to wait in line at Publix for sustenance than time to untarp “FashasDream” and head to Phillipe Park launch. As I rigged with a few instructions to my current steady handed crew it took a typical 45 minutes. I was nervously watching the tree tops looking for sign of wind. It was sparse.
This would be a gamble. I wanted an eventful breezy day in order to provide a quality experience for my son. Let me explain.
My son is the quintessential modern urbanite kid. Video games, laptop and “hanging “ with friends. He’s not much of the outdoors type. So, behind the primary motive of enjoying the day at sea, is the added motive of selling my son on the fun of sailing.
We launched easily enough. The skies were crystalline blue with just a few puffs of clouds here and there. My son was competent on the lines and able to follow directions well. Occasionally he made good recommendations for differences.
Before long we were motoring south through the channel. While motoring I prepped the last of things with the main sail and pulled out the auto pilot.
Then came a few hick ups. It appears that both of my batteries were depleted, but with both online we were able to operate the auto pilot, the radio and the depth sounder. No turning back since I didn’t have to rely on the batteries for propulsion. But every adjustment by the autopilot caused the radio to reset. And it also meant not enough juice to drive the inverter for speakers for music. Bummer.
And for the first time ever sailing my drop keel ran aground. The area is filled with shallows and the keel was all the way down and we were in 3.5 feet of water. I raised the keel a foot and off we went. I forgot to watch the depth sounder. There is a first time for everything.
We continued to motor south and I remained optimistic that the lack of wind was a phase like the day off of Anclote Key.
The moment of truth came and I hoisted the main and unfurled the genoa and waited. A puff caught and I felt thrilled. That lasted maybe thirty seconds.
We kept the motor on for a while hoping for a decent wind position relative to the local geography. My son wolfed down his sandwich. We caught light puffs for a while.
Then they would die. We piddled around like that for an hour or so heading mostly southward. I brought us about and put my son on the helm (tiller) and I worked on things around the boat. I also took a little video.
We stayed in irons for a nearly 45 minutes with zero breeze. I put the outboard down and began motoring and then the winds kicked in. I killed the motor and left it in neutral and the winds died. We were in irons again. I got fed up, pulled in the genoa and fired up the outboard and along came the breeze again. I opened the genoa, neutraled the outboard and they died. And we did it again. We went back and forth like this for at least a dozen times. I finally kept the outboard running, left my son at the helm and began taking down the boom.
Taking down the boom while under is a new thing for me but it made sense. We were on our return and it would save us tear down time after pulling the boat. It went well enough that I’m considering putting on the boom only after she’s in the water the next time. Not that it helps me to sail faster, but if you’re doing it while motoring thru a channel, then at least you shorten the time between arrival and getting the hull wet. This makes it more tolerable than tearing down in the parking lot which is generally much hotter and unpleasant than underway.
To sum it up: It was an eventful day, just not eventful in the way I had hoped. My son soldiered thru the experience without once complaining or being negative at all. For that I am grateful and he’s gained a measure of respect for that. He has made it clear he doesn’t want to go again (mostly because of set up and tear down). I remain hopeful that it was at least an experience he can look back on later.

Author: 21Buzzards

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

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