Super Splash Adventures

I had some more sailing adventures this weekend. Unfortunately I had my hands full pretty much at all times and couldn't get it together to snap off any pictures. An it didn't help that I had my phone in a plastic bag and didn't want to take it out or have much faith in the quality of the pictures if I took it out.

So Saturday morning I set my alarm for 5:30 am with the intention of getting up and sneaking off for some early morning sailing. I am hardheaded and stubborn and I was dead set on trying to sail off the beach at Soquel Cove, and when I drove by at 6:15 and had a look, the waves were dry small and calm, and it looked totally doable. So I pulled in and unloaded the boat and gear and dragged it all down to the beach and through the sand and got the boat setup. This was only the second time that I'd put all the pieces together, and it seemed to take longer than it should have to drag everything over and get it set up, and as I was scrambling g away the waves were getting bigger and meaner looking. Finally I had the boat all together and dragged it further down the beach away from the pier. I tried to wait for a gap in the swells to push Jemima out.

The short story is that I failed miserably. And "miserably" is the appropriate word because after splashing through ankle deep water and jumping into the boat soaked up to my calves in Pacific, Jemima slams into a 2-3 foot breaking wave and jerks to a stop with gallons and gallons of water pouring into the cockpit over the stem airbox. The boat stalls and drifts to port and I grab the oars and start to pull but before I get any momentum another wave breaks against the stem and starboard and forces her farther over to port, and heels here way over. I wonder if she's goin to tip over as I jump out and into knee deep water soaking my pants completely. I struggle to get the boat oriented stem towards the waves and drag her back towards the beach.

This whole episode has elapsed in only a couple seconds, but now I am completely winded and soaked to the bone. Jemima is still wallowing in a couple inches of advancing and retreating water, not enough to float her to drag her up the beach though, and I thinkbom actually fighting against some kind of suction that the bottom is creating against the wet sand.

As I'm standing there trying to catch my breath, a man who I'd seen earlier, apparently a guest at the hotel down on the beach, who had been wandering aroun snapping dawn photos, is eying me curiously from the steps up to the hotel. "You're a brave man," he calls out. I shake my head. "Foolhardy!" I call back.

So then I had the discouraging task of bailing out Jemima, dragging her up the beach, taking her apart and packing all the wet, cold parts back up to the van, and then wheelbarrowing her back across the sandy beach. All of this would have been a lot more endurable if it came after some exhilarating sailing. But in this case it was just damp, sandy, cold, early morning labor.

By the time I'd dragged our carcasses home it was 7:45, and felt like I'd been struggling for a lot longer than I had. If my sailing excursions had ended there it would have been a sad weekend. Fortunately I was able to to back out at Schwann Lake, where we had enjoyed Jemima's maiden voyage, later in the afternoon. That is a much more appropriate venue for this boat. Getting in and out is a snap, it's beautiful, it's a stone's throw from Twin Lakes Beach so I there's a sea breeze and I can smell the ocean and hear the waves, and even see the lighthouse at the harbor mouth while I'm sailing.

I managed to get out both Saturday and Sunday evenings by myself. The wind was better both days than it had been last Sunday, and I got several hours of real quality sailing time in, just me and Buddy. We sailed all the way up both channels, tacking and gibing and running and beating, sculling and rowing. Buddy was fascinated by the great big seabirds that roost on the big dead tree out on the north arm of the lake. I don't know what they are, but they're big and make very strange big sea lion type sounds that seem very un-birdlike. We saw people walking the paths by the lake and sitting out at their docks, or trying to fish from a little metal boat with a trolling motor, or watching from the road. Everybody seems fascinated by my little sailboat, apparently the only one that goes out on that little lake. But it's the perfect place for a puddle duck. The wind doesnt blow as strongly down the two arms, and I spend a lot of time tacking back and forth to get out of there, but it gusts pretty well out in the main body, and it's thrilling when the hull starts to heel over and I have to scoot to one side to keep her flat, and we go zipping along on a beam reach, or tacking up into the gusts. It's blissful.

My only prior sailing experience has been on a hobbie cat, and a lot of the basic nuts and bolts of sailing are weak areas in my skillset. But the thing I like most is sailing to windward in gusting wind. The actual SAILING bit is kinesthetic, and I love FEELING how the boat should be pulling. That feeling experience is much stronger sailing into the wind, and the leg-o-mutton sail seems pretty good for that.

The sail seems to have decent shape as I've made it. I did get around to moving the snotter connection about a foot lower on the mast, which looks a little better if nothing else. Saturday I noticed that the head was slouching down the mast and the tack was riding up, so Sunday I slapped some duct tape on there at those points to keep the sail where I wanted it to be. A temporary fix but it worked fine. Sunday I also slapped a masthead fly, a relic from our ol' hobbie cat (the rather inappropriately named "Norse Terror" - yes, we are of Viking blood, but it was a catamaran for Pete's sake!) onto the top of the mast with some more duct tape. I guess that was useful, but mostly I think it just made me crane my neck to look up at the top of the mast.

I also lopped about eight inches off the handle of that kick up leeboard, which has gotten it out of the way of the sail. But I never even bother pulling it up. When I'm sailing downwind I don't really notice much difference with it up. Maybe if I was racing I'd pull it up, but I don't seem to be in any particular hurry sailing downwind so I haven't really bothered. I think part of that has to do with the fact that the way I designed the board to be completely detachable I have that big honking 1/2 bolt with a wing it sticking of there and I catches my bungee cord unless I reach down to help it over.

I have a similar problem with the kick up rudder, as well as with the bolt that holds the pivoting tiller to the rudder housing (which is constantly snagging my main sheet). I'll need to lop that bolt off somehow so the line runs fair. I didnt bother shortening the tiller after all; I find I helm Jemima from a kind of unusual position slouching against that slanted aft buoyancy chamber with the tiller up overhead or on either of my shoulders, steering by leaning and trimming by scooting from side to side, and moving my legs straight forward or drawing the up crosslegged. It probably looks odd, but it works great and it is quite comfortable. I had purchased a clam cleat that I stuck on the tiller, but I've never once used it. For one thing the line I'm using for the mainsheet is three strand 5/8 (?) poly rope, and it doesn't want to cleat into my clam cleat nicely but more importantly, I have the mainsheet running through that eyebolt fair lead on the tiller, in the popular fashion, and cleat it easily enough with my thumb. And I'm constantly adjusting it anyway.

I've seen some cool animals, I think a blue heron, a carp, and one turtle on a log that I actually saw twice, but he jumped into the water both times. Lots of ducks and seagulls.

Next time hopefully I'll get some pictures, but that's the latest news for now!

- Tyson