Two weeks since my last entry, and it seems like forever since I’ve written anything about sailing. We were away for two weeks in September, and busy preparing for travel and our son’s wedding before that. A return to home required catching up with lots of stuff, so here I am, finally back to sailing.
We cast off Sunday afternoon in spite of a poor forecast for Monday. We just had to get on the boat and remember what it was like to cruise and sail. Sunday’s weather was stunning: warm, breezy (very breezy!), comfortable. Winds were SSE at 15-20. I pulled a reef into the main when I made sail, knowing that once we got beyond the arms of Herring Bay the wind would strengthen. We headed across the bay to Knapps Narrows, even though it was a beat and we were sure to lose ground. . . forecast for the next day was stronger winds, again from SSE, and shaping a course with any component of south would be very difficult and time-consuming. As it was, we had a great sail just shy of due East and fetched up at the north end of Poplar Island – about three miles north of our target.
I’ve never seen the current that strong in that part of the bay. Not surprising I guess, considering that a frontal system was moving in and the SSE winds were pushing all the water in the bay north. Regardless, we wound up at the north end of that purple oval in the image above – the oval represents Poplar Island, which doesn’t show on this map. We beat our way back to the approach to the Narrows and entered the channel. It was surreal to be in calm water after all that tossing about in the open bay.
We passed through the canal and under the bridge with no drama, turning north to make our way to Dun Cove. We had planned to go one inlet north of Dun Cove (reportedly less frequented by cruisers), but the failing light, wind direction, and our lack of personal knowledge of the anchorage influenced us. We set the hook in Dun Cove at about 1850, just in time to record sunset.
This was a breezy night but astonishingly clear with no moon or cities near by. I spent a half hour in the cockpit on my back looking up at the sky. So many stars! We slept poorly until past midnight. I rose several times to check our position, but we didn’t drag. We finally got some solid sleep in the small hours, rising about 0730. Now the skies are grey and the SSE wind is actually a bit stronger than yesterday.
We enjoyed our coffee and a leisurely morning reading and talking, then got underway at 1020. The hook broke free with no trouble as the boat’s momentum over-rode its burial place, pulling it free. We motored out into Harris Creek and into the teeth of the wind and chop. 2.5 miles back to Knapps Narrows through chop and 25 mph winds, then again the calm of the canal.
I had left the reef in the main, but didn’t even raise it. The jib was all that was needed to keep us moving at 5.5 knots. We were comfortable and level for most of the time, except when a big swell set us over on the starboard beam. Even then there was little discomfort. I’ve come to trust Cay of Sea in these conditions. Her generous form stability combined with 45 percent ballast/displacement ratio provides a lot of confidence and superior performance in choppy conditions. We made a quick trip across the bay on a beam reach. Perfect sailing with the helm providing just the right amount of pull to weather. We may have been a bit better balanced with the reefed main up and partially rolled jib, but there was no discomfort with just the full headsail.
As we entered Herring bay, the wind shifted clock-wise and I rolled up the jib, deciding to motor the final two miles rather than struggle with head winds. Good call – five minutes later we were overtaken by the east-bound squall line we’d been watching. Ruth retreated to the cabin and dropped the swash boards in place. The rain began moderately, but being driven by the wind, it fell hard stinging my skin. Another five minutes and we were in a white-out. Visibility about 75 yards. Our gps confirmed that we were moving in the right direction at about 3.5 knots. We would have been fine without gps, but it was comforting knowing exactly where we where without worry. I was completely soaked in another five minutes. After 15 minutes the squall let up and I could see again, still shaping our course to Rockhold Creek.
We docked in light rain and 60 degree temps. Buttoned up the boat, carried our stuff into the house, where I squelched my way into the bathroom. Dropped my sodden clothes into the hamper and indulged my shivering self in a hot shower.