Sep 1, 2015

Summer Sailing

I don't get out on the boat enough by myself. Today the stars aligned, and I was able to enjoy some much needed alone time on the water. We spent a lot of time taking people out on the boat this summer, which is a lot of fun, but it doesn't allow much time for me to learn how this (still new to us) boat sails.

So today I practiced singled handed tacking. I almost always single hand the boat, even when we have guests, but I wanted to perfect it into a clean, dependable tack.

Unlike a monohull, it's a pretty good walk to the other side of the cat to release or haul in a line (about 20 feet). Today I found that I can put the wheel hard over, release the jib sheet, reset it on the opposite side, and make it back to the helm to steer into whatever point of sail I'm after. By the end of the day I could do this casually with time to spare, and I added unjamming the boom traveler as part of the process (it almost always gets hung up).

I was feeling pretty good as I made my way back towards the marina, then the water temp alarm went off on the port engine. I cut the engine and considered my options: docking with the one remaining engine, going to a temporary dock, anchoring in the channel. I decided to be salty by letting out a bit of the jib and sailing my way back out to more open water.

I was hoping the wind would catch the jib and help spin the boat around. Unfortunately the wind had already blown me towards the left side of the channel, and I would need to turn to port to come about, this would put me even further out of the channel. I considered a 3-point back up maneuver, turning the wheel to starboard to assist bringing the bow around, but a channel marker prevented any attempt at that. By the time I had avoided the marker, I was even further out of the channel.

With no time to check the charts for depth outside the channel, I decided to play it safe and drop the anchor. Fortunately I had flipped on the anchor windless before leaving the dock, in preparation of this exact kind of worst case scenario. 

The anchor didn't set well, but it set enough to give me time to check out the problem. It was a broken drive belt. It took about 5 minutes to fix and I was back on my way again. I've never had a marine engine with any kind of belt before, changing them before failure is obviously preferable. I was lucky it failed when it did, rather than fail in the middle of docking or in a place I couldn't have dropped the anchor (like inside the marina).

I also started to learn to balance the sails so the boat would maintain a heading without the autopilot. This worked best on a close reach or close haul.

Jan 12, 2015

Sailing Lake Huron

Sailing from Lake St. Clair to Mackinaw Island in Lake Huron. With no wind we ended up motoring to Port Sanilac, then picked up a nice breeze and sailed to Alpena. We waited out a week of bad weather in Alpena then rode a following wind overnight to Mackinaw Island.

Aug 28, 2014

Buffalo and Crossing Lake Erie

Apparently NY State just wasn’t ready to let us go. When we made it to Buffalo at the end of the Erie Canal, we were hit with a thunderstorm, followed by several days of strong winds out of the West.

Aug 20, 2014

Chocolate Chip Rum Cookies

We've spent several yucky, windy, rainy days in Buffalo, NY. During these times I end up baking cookies. I like fluffy cookies, and I have a pretty awesome Chocolate Chip Rum Cookie Recipe here:

Aug 16, 2014

The Erie Canal

On 8/1/14 we started our trip on the Erie Canal. It was fun to see the canal again, and to compare the reality of the canal to my memories of it.

Aug 13, 2014

The Hudson River

We left New York City and headed up the Hudson River. We had to time our exit from the marina with the tide, so we left around mid day. The main objective was just to get off the expensive ($130 per night) NYC dock. Where we got to didn’t matter so much. So we put up the sails and progressed lazily up the river at about 3 knots.

Jul 31, 2014

New York City

Our exit through the Cape May inlet was much more calm and pleasant than our entrance. We even spotted a few bottle nose dolphins on our way out.

Instead of day hopping up to NYC, we decided to go from Cape May to NYC in one jump.

C&D canal and Delaware Bay

We left Worton Creek and headed to Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal. The next day we passed through the C&D and made some progress on the Delaware Bay.

It was a cloudy, yucky day, but the wind was great and for the first time it was not coming from the direction we wanted to go!