the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

hoisting the sails

A week ago I took the boat out for a day cruise with friends. The plan was simply going to be a repeat of the cruise two weeks prior: motoring up to Whitehall Bay and dropping the hook for a few hours before motoring back to Eastport. I felt that with several friends aboard I would be able to dock her and have friends fend us off and handle lines as necessary. I jury-rigged a nav station at the helm by taping a car phone holder to the pedestal so we could use the Navionics chart plotter on my iphone. I loaded up charts on my laptop in PolarView as a backup.

Before heading out I wanted to take advantage of an offer to go aloft to install a Windex wind indicator atop the mast and check the sheave for the jib halyard, (I want to replace the wire cable halyard with line and need to make sure the sheave is smooth and won't cut the line). My friend Dave brought two climbing harnesses. Mike was the grinder on the winch to hoist Travis up, while Dave belayed in case of a fall. Travis likely would have climbed right up like a tree frog, but I'm glad he agreed to wear the safety harness; I wouldn't want to see him get hurt and wouldn't want the two eight-year-old girls along for the cruise to see someone go splat on the deck. I definitely want to learn to go up the mast for myself. And many thanks to Travis for going aloft for me!

We motored out of Back Creek and before I knew it, Travis was preparing sails to be hoisted. I explained I hadn't planned on sailing her today and that the jib sheets were actually in the trunk of my car. He just grabbed some spare docklines off the rail and used them for one jib sheet we'd need to run to the other side when tacking or jibing. So, before I knew it Ambrosia's sails had been hoisted underway for the first time since I bought her.

My intended destination of Whitehall Bay would be a lengthy cruise under sail because it was pretty much dead upwind. We headed across the Bay toward Kent Island a while with the intention of tacking and heading back across toward Whitehall Bay. Everyone was a little nervous when Travis announced he was going below for a nap and leaving us to sail her ourselves. I had only had one half-day sailing lesson, but gratefully my friend Lane also knew enough to generally keep us out of trouble. While I was below somehow our remaining crew managed to do a few 360s with the boat, but no one was hurt during accidental jibes and everyone just seemed pleased to be out enjoying the Bay.

We eventually chose to just head to a simpler destination south off Bay Ridge and drop the hook for lunch, swimming, and fishing. With that downwind target, we even ended up sailing a little bit wing-and-wing--with the jib out to one side and the main out to the other. At some point we got up to 5 knots, not exactly flying, but just right for a relaxing sail with friends.

We got her docked without incident. Unfortunately the jib is a hot mess on the furler because I think the "spinny thing" (that's a highly technical sailing term) was supposed to go to the top but is shackled to the furling drum. I need a calm day to unfurl the jib, drop the sail, and rehoist it with the head of the sail attached to the "spinny thing." And though I'll still be a committed barefoot sailor because it gives better traction and warning of impending slips, I did manage to smash my pinky toe into the pump out fitting and bleed all over the deck. My toe was a painful mess for several days but now seems to be healed up alright. Poor Hunter puked twice, but then found a low hiding place and curled up there for the duration. Max tends to lay on the settee looking a little loopy. I sure hope they both get their sea legs soon.

All-in-all a great day on the water and good times and plenty of tequila once back ashore. I'm thankful for all my friends here in the Annapolis area, and glad that life afloat lets me meet new kindred spirits. And I can't help it, I have a weakness for floppy hair, it's in my nature. (And don't worry, that's not "the floppy-haired sailor guy;" when I said game over on that one, I meant it.) Travis wisely told the two eight-year-old girls never to fall in love with a sailor because he's here one day, and gone the next. It's true and good advice for shore-based folks to follow. As for me, I can't imagine being with anyone tied down to land...I need a guy who understands why I live aboard, who wants to cruise away and chart our own course in life wherever and however we please. As one friend said when I was left behind last time I'll be the one cruising away leaving some guy crying on the docks. Indeed. I certainly won't be waiting around to find a sailmate and soulmate; you never find love when you're looking for it. You bump into it when it's least expected. Until then, all I need is my anchor and sails, for they will set me free.

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Thanks for reading! Have you had a similar experience you'd like to share? Have a link to an interesting blog fellow readers and I might enjoy? Just want to say hello? Post your comments below. I'm a smart, resourceful girl doing things her own way, so I just ask that folks keep the unsolicited advice to themselves.