Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Month: March 2008

Second (semi-) Voyage

I think I need to have a *long talk* with this boat! It seems to have the wrong idea about its (future) name.

So, it’s name, as we have the un-/re-naming ceremony, will be 4 Degrees. The idea is that this boat is my reward to myself for getting 4 kids through college. Well, it actually ended up being a 50th birthday present from my mom and my Significant Other. But that just meant I had more money to put towards repairs.

Anyway, back to the name….

So I asked a few friends if they’d like to take the first pleasure cruise on this boat. Weather all week had been looking good, and I had no doubt that this day would be any different.

As I said, the boat, though, has different ideas.

Well, we had the chance of rain. No biggie. That’s what they make foul weather gear for, right?

<sigh!> Not only did we get rain, we got hail. And it was cold, of course. And the winds picked up. But, that came later.

The creek where I have my boat berthed has a narrow channel. And, this day, we had a terrible time finding it. The aforementioned wind wasn’t helping matters, either. We kept going aground. First time, didn’t take much time to get going again. Nor did it the second time. But the third time, the passengers moved to the high side and we struggled to get free.

So now we’re free and finally in deeper (relatively speaking) water. Next problem? Crabpots!

For those unfamiliar with the Chesapeake Bay area, there are these landmines they call crabpots all over the place! They’re wire cages that the fishermen put on the bay floor, with a rope attached, and buoy attached to that. The buoy, of course, makes it easy to find them again. Problem is, there will be dozens in an area and little way to get around them. So you go through them. Problem with that? Well, hit one of those buoys (about the size of a large Clorox bottle) and the rope attached to them wraps around your propeller. If you’re real lucky, you can just unwrap it easily. If you’re not, and you’re a good soul, you get in the water and untangle yourself, leaving the buoy and rope in tact. If you’re not a kind soul, you get your handy dandy knife out and cut yourself loose.

So I made it through the minefield of crabpots and out of the shoals. But now the wind has picked up and it’s nasty cold, and we turn around. How far have we gone in all of this? Less than a mile! <double sigh!>

So then I get to practice backing my boat into its slip. I guess that’s the one lesson I did get to learn that day: prop walking and backing up.

Well, the captains I’ve sailed with had taught me a valuable lesson: keep the crew well fed. So I had a good feed prepared for lunch. We enjoyed that, listening to the rain falling outside and relishing in each other’s company.

So, though the sailing was again pretty crappy, the company was excellent!

Steve and Steve

Paul and Grant

First Voyage

Up until today, the coldest sailing adventure I’d ever taken was one New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day weather in this area is unpredictable. You can have fairly nice, warm weather, or it can be miserably cold. The day I’m thinking of was a New Year’s Day race that was one of the latter.

As I said, it was the coldest I’d ever spent on a sailboat, until today.

Today …. was ….. miserable!

My two companions, Saint Steven and Saint David, and I left Willoughby Spit, on the Norfolk side of the Chesapeake Bay, at about 10 a.m. this morning. The prediction for the day was small craft advisory (winds over 15 MPH) until 10, then tapering off towards afternoon. Highs were expected in the mid-50’s. But, as St. Steve so aptly put it later to Erik, the temperature may have been in the 50’s. But then you have to subtract 10 degrees because you’re on the water, and 10 degrees for wind chill…. and, by the time you’re done, it’s about zero.

Well, at least that’s how it felt!

So why did we go? Well, the guy who said it would take him two weeks to finish the repairs on my boat actually finished them in a week. And, rather than paying two slip fees, one at the old place and one at the new, I was anxious to get the boat moved. Besides, I’d had it for two weeks and hadn’t even been out on in but the one ‘trial’ run before purchase.

So, the weather was against us.

On top of that, the batteries on the boat were going. I knew that. So I went to the boat on Saturday to pay the technician and to find out what batteries I needed, then go back to the marina store and pick up a couple of new ones. But the marina store was closed. So was the battery outlet store. And West Marine’s prices were almost 2/3rd’s more than those other places. But the engine had turned over when I was looking over the repairs, so I figured we might be okay.


Luckily, I still had the outboard, and I had brought extra gas for it, just in case we’d need it. We did.

So, we leave Willoughby spit, and we head over to the channel. We’re following the buoys as we should, to avoid the shallow places. And I’m watching the depth gauge. Depth gauge says 8′ below us a WHUMP! We hit a sand bar. Not 30 seconds later, the depth gauge catches up with us and my boat, which draws 4-1/2′, is sitting at 3-1/2 feet.

St. Dave comes to the rescue and directs us out of the sand bar and we’re on our way!

We unfurl the jib. But the wind isn’t quite right to put up the main. It never really is the entire voyage. This sailing vessel makes it to its new home under power the whole way. :no:

Not only that, the engine tried to die the first time we took off the choke, so we left it on, and forgot it was on, until we were in the York River, near the end of our journey. Luckily, we didn’t run out of gas on the way!

So, how cold was it? Well, you know that feeling your get when your mouth has be novacained? Where your speech is slurred and you really can’t taste anything? I got so cold a few times that that’s how I felt.

Most of the rest of the 5 hour journey was uneventful, and cold. Did I mention that it was cold?

But we made it there safely. And the smarter member of the group, Erik, who had stayed in the nice warm house, came to pick us up so we could get warm and back to cars on the other side of the bay.

I didn’t get as many pictures as I had hoped. But what I did get are online.

Only saints would have come with me on such a journey. So my public thanks to St. Steve and St. Dave!