Sunday, June 8, 2008

Let the games begin

Another weekend is nearly done and little Nomad is within a couple of days of getting wet again. At least, that is the plan at the moment. Deb and I spent the last two days working on the boat, staying over Saturday night so we could get started on the bottom paint first thing this morning. The V berth was surprisingly big and comfortable, but even with the wind blowing around 20 knots at times and all the vents open, it was pretty warm. And I guess boats like to move. Even on the hard I could feel some subtle swaying as the wind played with the boat.

We read and heard all kinds of horror stories about how difficult it is to paint the bottom of a boat. The paint is some special kind of stuff that costs a fortune and has copper powder in it to keep uglies from growing on the bottom and slowing the boat down. (A definite no-no in a boat that can only do 6 knots or so anyway.) As it turns out painting the bottom is not that big a deal, its just paint after all. We had a harder time painting the living room. Bottom paint looks pretty cool though, and with the rest of the hull cleaned and waxed our little boat seems eager to get off her stand and back into the lake.

Another good thing about staying on the boat last night and getting up early to paint her was that we had the work done in time to go sailing with a new friend this afternoon. Schmitty is the vice commodore of the club, saw us working on Nomad, came over, introduced himself and invited us out on the lake with him and his friends. Schmitty owns a Catalina 31, which is a really nice boat. (Not as nice as Nomad, but bigger. Schmidty would probably disagree.) The wind was blowing with gusts to 28 knots, stirring up white caps on the lake and apparently keeping a lot of people at the dock. (I know it was gusting to 28 knots because I checked the pilot weather for the nearby airport. I haven’t learned yet where sailors go to get their weather.) Those who stayed at the dock missed a really fun day. Flying just a piece of a headsail we rounded the exit from the dock area and plowed our way out into the lake. Once in a while we smacked a wave hard enough to throw spray all the way back to the cockpit. Tacking back and forth trying to make our way south I realized something I knew about sailboats, but never experienced. Sailors always talk about “beating to weather” when they go upwind. Now I understand. A sailboat can’t sail straight into the wind; about 40 degrees off the wind is the best they can do. But the waves run more or less directly downwind, putting the boat at an awkward angle to the prevailing sea. (Or lake in this case.) The boat corkscrews itself across the waves making for a really weird kind of ride with a lot of yawing motion. I can certainly see where beating to weather for several days nonstop while trying to make a long passage could wear a person out.

Schmitty let Deb and I take the helm for most of the day. I expect I tripled my sailing experience in this one afternoon’s sail. Which is kind of the purpose behind buying the boat in the first place. The games have definitely begun.