Fall Sailing Has Begun

Those brilliant days are here.  Sunny, warm but not hot, cool but not cold.  Perfect in every way. Yesterday the winds were easterly 5-10 mph, today it was easterly 10-15 mph.  Each perfect in its own way.  Perfect solitude – I sailed alone both days – Ruth is out-of-town.  I love sailing with my wife. It is the most wonderful time together to talk, enjoy time on the water, work the boat together, plan our futures (near and distant), discuss business, pray together, or just let her relax with a book while I indulge myself maximizing boat speed and sail trim.  I love my time alone on the water too.  There is something indefinably satisfying about being alone on the water.  For some reason solo sailing lets me reach deep inside.  I am able to reflect on life-events and perspectives while alone this way – something about the motion and environment, I guess.  I have reflective time almost daily when not on the water, but for some reason the complete solitude while sailing gives me the freedom to be more transparent with myself and God.

Yesterday I raised sail and eased my way through a couple of miles of gentle sailing, finally reaching the dizzying speed of 3 knots at the end.  Easy tacks, level sailing, neutral helm, brilliant sun-shine and sunset, perfect temps.  What an incredible luxury it is to have time on the water like this.

Brilliant conditions, serene sailing.

Brilliant conditions, serene sailing.

Today was different.  Breezy conditions were the rule, though not too bad.  A modest scattering of whitecaps articulated the wave-tops – like a small bowl of popcorn tossed across a blue floor.  I donned my harness and clipped in while motoring through the creek.  Past the breakwater we turned out of the channel and I set a reef before raising sail.  Good plan.  I’d have been fighting the helm otherwise.  Main raised, headsail fully unrolled – we set off NE on a close reach at 5 knots.  Dodging crab pot floats, other boats, photographing everything that struck my fancy – it was an active time accompanied by The Eagles Greatest Hits on the stereo.

Reef tucked in, surging out into the bay.

Reef tucked in, surging out into the bay.

White-caps and sun sparkles.

White-caps and sun sparkles.

You see funny things on the water.  Check out the cropped version of this photo (below).

You see funny things on the water. Check out the cropped version of this photo (below).

Kids do funny things. . .

Kids do funny things. . .

At four miles out, I come about and start the return trip.  The wind is slightly different on this tack, and it’s dropping off.  After five minutes, I heave to and shake out the reef.  After resuming course, I gain a half-knot or so in speed without the reef.  As we continue on this tack, the wind gradually moves forward, and I adjust accordingly, bringing in the main and jib sheets until both pull efficiently. This is fun. . .

This fellow paced all the way to the jetty.  About 2 more miles after this photo was taken.

This fellow paced us all the way to the jetty. About 2 more miles after this photo was taken.

The boat above reminds me of our Catalina 22 which we owned for 5 years.  This one is a 25, but all the Catalinas have a similar look.  He kept up with us for a while, then gradually fell behind.

Here we are again, side by side.  Not sure why he didn't lift his motor out of the water.

Here we are again, side by side. Not sure why he didn’t lift his motor out of the water.

The Catalina struck his sails at the same time I did.  We’d over-shot the channel to drop sails and get organized for motoring in past the jetties.  Interesting behavior at the jetty entrance.  Power boats don’t want to be behind sailboats.  They will make remarkable maneuvers to get ahead of a sailboat, even though the speed limit restricts us all to not-greater-than 6 mph.  That’s the speed sailboats do at cruising throttle anyway.  However, the power boaters always want to go just a bit faster.  I shake my head in wonder.  Most D.C area drivers follow too closely, go too fast, and want to be ahead of you (regardless of how fast you’re going).  Seems like “beltway driving” affects them on the water too.  I didn’t allow the power boaters to disturb my peace.  They can get in front of me all day long, the more the merrier, just so long as we don’t bump into each other.

Two passes at the slip were required to make my landing stern-first.  That’s about my average – 50 percent.  I misjudged the wind and distance and had to go around again.  That’s okay too.  We managed to park and tie up, now to the music of Pat Metheny.  It’s 1715 and it’s been a great afternoon on the water.

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2 comments
  1. What a perfect description of the change in mood that comes with the change of seasons!

    • Thanks Bob. It’s a great time of year for sailing.

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