Sunday Sailing

After church, after lunch, after a nap, I threw off the mooring lines and motored out into the bay with the wind in my face. I was heading south, the wind was heading north. The wind forecast said 8-10 knots on the bay, but in Herring bay it was more like 15-20. With sufficient sea room to drift for a while, I went to work taking a reef in both sails. After sorting out the lines and making sure all was ready, I hauled up the sails and heeled pretty far over. Cracking off the wind a bit helped put me more upright, and I guess I really should have loosened the main sheet as well, but I wanted to go “that way,” which meant I had to stay fairly close hauled.

Crystal clear weather, puffy white clouds, about 80 degrees, and moving between 5.5 and 6.5 knots (just about as fast as we can go) – life just doesn’t get too much better. I’ve been waiting for this all winter and spring. I love sailing by myself.

I noticed that I had missed a reefing line in the jib, so I hove to and went forward to tie it in. Now it’s neat. I followed the wind around, jibed the main, and was back on track. The depth sounder flashed in and out, alternating between the depth and giving an error message. It did this last spring as well, for the first couple of sails – it settled into reliable service just as I was getting serious about shopping for another instrument. I’ll keep my eye on it.

Taking spray over the bow, realizing I forgot to seal the fore hatch. A two-inch opening in the hatch can get things damp. Not going to close it now – I don’t want to leave the helm again. A little water will dry soon enough. Starting to see crab pot markers, and I can see a fish trap in the distance – that stand of sticks in the water, with water birds waiting like vultures on top of each one. Must be an easy meal for them. Past the trap another half mile, and it’s time to turn around. This time I pass to the south of it, and the birds are still undisturbed.

I guess the wind readings on the open bay were accurate, because I no longer need the reefs. I’m not going to shake them out, though. I’ll be back in the land breeze area pretty soon, and I’ll need the shortened sail area again. Cross the channel again and heave to, dropping first the main in the shadow of the backed jib, then releasing the jib halyard and going forward to pull it down. I have a down haul, but never attach it. I’m not satisfied with how I’ve got it rigged. I think I must need to run the line through the hanks, right next to the forestay, to keep it out of trouble.

Sails are bagged or covered, and I’m motoring back up the creek. By the time I reach the slip, I’ve covered 9.75 miles, and the depth sounder is behaving better.

Should have neatened up this reef too.

  1. Mike said:

    Thanks for taking me along. I could feel the wind in my face. Haven’t felt that in a while.

    • And I thought I was sailing solo! Stowaway, no doubt. Glad you were there!

  2. A few months ago I found myself beating back across the Bay in the most wind I had encounter with my new main, at least to windward–30 knots sustained, gusting into the high 30s. The sail came with a 3rd reef, but I only keep the lines threaded for two. The act of threading the line for the third while underway was… stimulating. I also was not able to secure it in the normal way, so it was not as tight as I would have liked. When I cam back I fixed that.

    A problem with securing a reef to a fixed cleat is that the cleat is only in the right place for one of the reefs; as the sail is reduced, the clew moves forward. A better way, if feasible, is to tie the reefing line around the boom so that it can float, thread it up through the reefing clew, down to the end of the boom to a turning block, and then forward to a cleat. In my case, I have a winch on the mast, so I can use this to pull the reef in. For my 3rd reef, I had recovered a double jammer from the freecycle bin a year before, and I used that to replace the cleat on the side of the boom. Now I can winch in both the 3rd reef and the main outhaul.

    Combined, I think these two explain it. BTW, I’m not a big fan of internal reefing, it’s just what I have.

    • I had read before that you reef down to the boom, and not to a cleat, but it didn’t sink in until I read this again. That would give me a neater, tighter reef. I installed an additional cleat on the boom for the second reef point, but it’s still difficult to get the clew all the way down the boom for a flat reef. I have a few extra blocks, and may see what I can come up with in that regard. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Anonymous said:

    Thanks Rick, I am stuck here in Atlanta awaiting surgery on the 11th and have not been to the boat so this account is the closest I have come to time on the water, Still hoping I can recover quickly enough to allow me to drive up and get the boat dewinterized and readied in time for the rendezvous. So again, thanks I really enjoyed my first sail of the year and it was great being on a W27 again even if it was only in spirit!!:-)

    • Hope your procedure goes as expected, and that you are soon back on the boat. Look forward to seeing you in June!

  4. Rick R. said:

    I just finished reading your entire blog from it’s beginning in 2012 to these posts in May 2017! I found the blog with a Google search of boating/sailing blogs on the Chesapeake Bay with the intent of creating my own blog about boating on this body of water. While I own a 21′ powerboat, I have found that the sailing blogs are more prevalent and ironically more relevant. I also like to think my boating demeanor tends more towards the slower pace and more considerate nature of sailboats. Like you, we enjoy boating on the quiet weekdays and avoid weekends if we can; and if we do go out on weekends, we avoid the usual places powerboats frequent. Coincidentally, we live probably 5 miles apart! I am on Broadwater Creek, Churchton; just to the north of Rockhold and Deale. And perhaps even more coincidentally, our go-to anchorage is the Rhode River; just maybe we’ve seen each other on the Rhode. We just “discovered” the Wye River this season; this is our second year with a boat, but our 4th year living here. And to add to coincidences, we moved here after retiring from the military – albeit a 30 year Army career instead of the Navy – and my name is Rick! I hope you are well since you haven’t posted since May and look forward to new posts about Cay of Sea!

    • Hi Rick, nice to meet you! I’ve been playing hooky from by blog this summer, therefore the slow response.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading. There are many aspects of boating that are common to both power and sail, particularly the maintenance aspects, but even more, the attitude of owning a boat.

      I hope we meet some time – what kind of boat do you have, and what’s her name? I’ll look for you on the water.

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