Monday, May 25, 2009

shakedown cruise!!

Rigging a Jib...

I think I had heard the phrase "shakedown cruise" once but never payed any attention to it until this weekend. It was my first time as captain and a ride I will never forget. First, though, our mission was to run our jib up the roller furling; it has a track for a halyard and one for a bolt-rope-looking edge on the jib-- it's probably called something special but I have no idea what it's called. All you have to do is pull the halyard while feeding the jib into the track. One hitch is that the track is split into four pieces that can, and do, rotate out of alignment if nothing is in the track. Our track being all screwy, we decided to look for a dock that was tall enough to reach high up on the track to give it a twist. Lucky for us, the Freeport town pier was just right. Before we could reach anything we needed to dock.


as we are starting a new relationship with Neptune, I wanted to try using the outboard to stop her while in a safe, large area. I imagined Neptune as an out of control locomotive steaming toward a populated area with people running for their lives, so after the mooring ball was unhooked I did a few starts and stops and was confident that I wouldn't destroy the pier or have a salty fellow tell me that I had no place in the water, and believe me quit a few salty people were at the pier due to the great weather we were having.

the path to the dock was almost exactly straight in except for the last bit where I had to jog to the left, it was no problem because I am an expert boat handler... right... we docked and tied Neptune up. Next I roped a stanchion to pull the boat over toward us so Sophi could reach the track to twist it in place, once this calamity was complete, we grinned. we raised the sail and grinned. we loaded up our gear for a sail to Peaks Island and grinned even more.

Under Sail

Sailing to Peaks, I felt like I was in a marathon but not the kind you run, this marathon involved steering, figuring out which island is which, not running into a mud flat, avoiding other boats trying to figure out a course... did I mention steering the boat? lucky for me, my girlfriend Sophi was there to take some of the load, also thank goodness for motors. I ran the outboard for a good 20 minuets before the coast was clear enough to try sailing. The main sail was already up so when the time came I gave the word and Sophi started unrolling the jib we were trying to be on a starboard tack but weren't quite doing it yet. It was at this time when a funny thing happened. I gave the sheet a wrap around the winch and started to pull in the sheet. when I pulled, the line kept crossing over itself and would pop right off the winch... "hmm," I thought, "that's interesting." actually I was swearing profanities, the details of which are between the wind and I. it was after ten good attempts that I decided something other than me was not working right and swearing was not about to solve it. "Oh, an idea, we need a pulley!" After I turned into the wind, Sophi found a pulley that was not being used and attached it to the deck on a track, this would have been completely obvious to any other sailor but we're new. We ran the sheet through the pulley, which changed the angle the sheet was entering the winch, allowing me to pull in the line: bliss.

F***ing Current

Things went really smooth while sailing, one tack basically did it all. we traveled from buoy to buoy and finally had the destination in sight but weren't going to quite make it without tacking... what the heck, lets do this "prepare to tack" I yell, followed by "hard a lee." now we are strafing our prey waiting for our moment to pounce. Once we were getting too close for comfort to a large body of nasty messy land, I changed direction and aimed just windward of the channel I was hunting for. The only problem was that the closer we got to the channel and the sweet sweet victorious warmth of not sailing at 8p in May, the further to the lee side of the channel I was pushed.... wtf? I've been told that on a sailboat all you can do is go with it, so we went with it and tacked again. still we are directed to the lee side and again and again. Wow, am I getting frustrated. The wind and I had a few more words that I will keep in my tool box of bad things to say. "dude I'm snappin on the freakin motor!"I holler, I was super cold and ready for it to be over... personal note to self, next time I want some warmer clothes. Neptune's little 5 HP outboard makes quick work of the space between me and my new favorite dock. I was motoring along in the channel almost idling when the bow turns to port, towards an angry looking coastline. naturally I turn the tiller to compensate, I say naturally because I am in fact a master boat handler. No response... what!?! how dare she? I was not having any of this so I got out the baby powder and used my strong hand. Meaning that I gave the motor a quick shot of power, effectively bring me back on course. It was over, I made it, we made it, nothing was destroyed and I was still dating that special red-head.

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