You guys getting sick of my stories yet? Well too bad, because here's another one!
The Admiral and the Midshipman are out of town until next weekend, visiting her folks. Work commitment required me to remain here. I determined that as a geographic bachelor for a week and a half, I would do a lot of sailing (along with the other debaucheries I can't do very much when they're around.... For instance, I finally became a Made Man in The Godfather: The Don's Edition on my PS-3
!). So I put out the word around the office last week, and got takers for underways on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday consisted of me, Sean, Ian, Jeff, John and Sean's gf Ashley. Sean lives in Newport
most of the time (so obviously he's a sailor) but is down here for a year-long stint in the Pentagon with us, and Ian sailed a lot at the Naval Academy. Jeff is my former XO, and is looking to knock the rust off his sailing skills. John and Ashley hadn't sailed before, but all the same, this time I actually had some people aboard besides me who knew how to sail (in all fairness, the Admiral knows how, but these days she tends to focus on looking after the Midshipman, rather than boat handling, when we're out and about)!
My only goal for the day, besides chugging beer
and having fun on the water
, was to get my spinnaker
flying. I've got an assymetric on Icefire. We'd flown it once, for about a half hour, when I brought her from Maine
to Connecticut last summer. But we really didn't know the right way to set it, and upon further research
, it turns out we did it wrong. I recently purchased one of those ATN Tackers, and I was itching to actually fly the thing properly! So friday, I went to Westmarine and bought some line, tied the sheets
to the clew of the sail, and shoved it into its sail bag in a manner that I hoped wouldn't twist too much.
We got underway just after 11 on Saturday, to very light wind
. There was never a hope of sailing down the Severn this time. Indeed, even in Annapolis
harbor itself, there wasn't much of a breeze. But as we got toward the harbor mouth, it looked like we'd found something to sail on. Up went the main, out came the jib
.....and we made a whole 1.5 kts. Woohoo! We're cooking
now! Before too long, even that slight breeze had died off, and we were making 0.0 kts on both GPS
and log (of course, the log still wasn't working: it's been offline for a couple weeks). After a fair amount of time bobbing around and getting passed by powerboats (and sailboats under power) left and right, I said "screw it" and started the engine
to get us the rest of the way into the Bay.
Naturally, no sooner was the engine
running than we observed significant-looking ripples in the water
maybe 100 yards ahead. Sure enough, the renewed breeze hit us (maybe 5-10 kts worth out of the southeast, but a breeze nonetheless) after a few seconds, and we were sailing once more.
We proceeded on a close reach east-northeast out of the harbor. At this point, Jeff had the conn at his request, the better to get a feel for how a sailboat handles again. We'd spied a warship moored out near the Bay channel, and being proper submariners, we decided to go buzz the "skimmers" and mock them.
remained at about 10 kts, and we made 4 kts or so on the way over (interestingly, the log started working again after we got waked by 2 or 3 big obnoxious power boats: I guess the shock of the bow smacking through those wake waves shook loose the growies from the log wheel
. Maybe powerboats DO have a use afterall!). As we approached the ship (which Jeff and I recognized immediaely as a frigate, but Ian tried to claim was a destroyer.....until it was plainly a frigate. Then he began the joke of the day, that it was in fact an aircraft carrier: well, it does carry two helicopters, so that's technically correct
), we decided not to go within the Naval Vessel Protective Zone (it case you're wondering or don't know, there's a statutory limit to how close you can approach a US Naval warship in US waters; the limit's not classified, but all the same I'll let you guys look up the law in lieu of broadcasting force protection policies all over the forum) because we didn't want to be prosecuted by the Coast Guard or just plain shot by the ship's picket boat. So we turned more north toward the Bay Bridge.
This seemed to be the prime time to get the spinnaker
flying, so we rolled up the jib
and I set up the tacker. Then came the moment of truth: after running the sheets outboard
and back to the blocks at the stern, I hauled up on the halyard
. And to my amazement, the chute was not twisted at all! I, who have no idea how to pack a sail, managed to not twist the thing while putting it in the bag! Wow!
There was one minor problem as we raised it, though: the sheets were run outboard
most of the way, except right next to the clew, so the last part of the sail remained bunched until we re-ran them.
But that was easily fixed, and we quickly were broad-reaching under the Bay Bridge under spinnaker power, making a healthy 5 kts or so the whole way. Woo!
We sailed another mile or so north, then noticed that it was about 3:30. Since no one wanted to spend the night with me on my sailboat, we decided to douse the spinnaker and jibe around back toward Annapolis
. Ian and I envisioned maybe having to beat upwind, but it ended up that at a close reach, we were able to make a good course for the harbor entrance. So life was good.
The sail back was pleasant. Jeff and Ashley tooks turns at the helm
and I rode
up in the bow, teasing Ian about failiing in his one task for the day (he's the guy who came to the Submarine Ball with two dates and is single-handedly laying waste to the single
ladies of Washington DC
, so his task was to bring girls who would sit topless at the bow of the boat for the day: this did not happen, and we were all disappointed
). It was very nice to be able to let someone else drive and just enjoy the movement of my boat through the water (with the occasional direction back to the helmsman about shoal water locations and the like).
Anyway, we docked at about 6:30 after a full day of fun, and then went and got some great Italian food
at Maria's in downtown Annapolis, then called it a night.
Sunday, I was feeling the sun from Saturday. It was me, another Jeff (another ex-boss of mine), and his wife and daughter.
Sunday wasn't quite as relaxing (but it was still fun), for two reasons: 1) I was once again the sole person on board who knew what was going on, and 2) the wind was a bit more brisk. I made it at about 12 kts; by the end of the afternoon, it was more like 15 or so (that's just a guess of course: without an annemometer, I must rely on my seaman's eye, but I like to think I can pick out windspeed from the waves pretty well).
I decided I wasn't going to screw around with the spinnaker on Suinday, but the brisker wind made for a lively sail. We crossed out of Annapolis harbor right around hull speed
and maintained that for most of our voyage, at Icefire's nominal angle of heel (15 degrees on the nose). It's rather amusing: we bumped into the same regatta
no less than three times. My newbie crew learned how to tack as I maneuvered to keep out of their way (no point in spoiling their race
Sunday was shorter, because I had some other things I needed to do that afternoon, and because the ladies were tiring. Plus, as we turned back for the harbor entrance, we experienced more heel that I like a couple times (we got up to 30 degrees a couple times, but that may be to Jeff sheeting in on the jib too much more than the greater wind; 15 kts is still tolerable for a Sabre
28 without reefing, according to the Sabre
owner's yahoo group). Unfortunately, the wind shifted around on us as we neared the harbor, and suddenly I was looking at a long beat up-river. Although there was plenty of wind, I didn't want to spend 8 hours getting back, so we started the motor
and came in. We docked at about 4.
So it was a great weekend. Awesome conditions, good company, good food
(especially on Sunday: Jeff's wife brought the makings for these awesome strawberry deserts that she fed us as we sailed back..... mmmmm......
), and no mishaps at all. Plus, I finally got my spinnaker working, and we took pictures to prove it!
Hope everyone is doing well. Until next time!