I spent most of last week in the world I know best, moving the jet around the country, dodging storms, balancing loads and fuel and possible “plans B” to get people where they needed to be when they needed to be there. We touched wheels in Boca Raton, (two times) St. Louis, (seven times) Moline, (five times) and Naples, FL once. (I need to spend some time in Naples some day. It looks like they have a lot of sailboats there!) Friday I went by the house just long enough to pack some clothes, meet Deb, and head for the marina. Before calling it a night I put a new impeller in Nomad’s cooling system and then crawled into the V-berth thinking to myself, “It sure is good to be home.”
That is a bit of a stretch. Nomad is more like a cabin get-away that will move. And though the water is far from a place I know very well yet, it feels like we are making progress. We are getting much better at sail handling and (so long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard) our boat handling around the marina isn’t near the circus it was just a couple of weekends ago. Boat systems are starting to make a little sense though I have to admit that the water in the bilge thing still bugs me a little. (It just doesn’t seem right to have lake water in the boat even though I know the stuffing box needs to leak a little for cooling.) Things are finding their place in the cabin. I know where to find my shoes and hat and glasses. I can move around in the middle of the night and not bang into things any more often then I do in the bedroom. Nomad is not the strange place it seemed just a month or so ago.
Saturday a bunch of boats from the marina all sailed to a cove about 4 miles away for a “raft-up” and a party. Well, we didn’t really sail. Most of us tried but there was just no wind. Boats would power out onto the lake, hoist sails, drift for a while, drop the sails and start up the motor. It was kind of comical seeing a whole flotilla of sticks moving across the lake, all homing in on the same spot. By late afternoon about half the boats, (Nomad included) left for home. The other half stayed out for the night. Breaking up the raft was a bit exciting and, in spite of my improved boat handling skills, I still managed to spook the folks watching. I think I knew what I was doing. I managed to miss the remaining boats, (in spite of a wind that was pushing my stern into them) and had a plan for missing the anchor rode that had gotten under our bow (which I did). From some of the (rather loud) advice I got while pulling away though, I’m not sure the captains that were watching were convinced I knew what I was doing.
In spite of my being a newbie I’m beginning to suspect that, unlike the world I do know, in the world of sailing anarchy reigns and everyone is an expert even if no two of them can agree. One person swears by a preventer (rigging the keeps the boom from swinging, particularly when running downwind). Another claims a preventer is an unnecessary complication. Boom vang, rigid or rope, yeah or nay, topping lifts, spinnakers or genikers, reefing systems, geniker poles, proper ways to tie the boat to the dock, 2 hulls or 1 or 3, instrumentation…it seems that every piece of a sailboat, every maneuver a sailboat might make, every sail set, every wind condition, is open to endless debate. On the one hand that seems kind of fun. But on the other, some things have to work better than other things that don’t work so well. Surely somewhere in the world of sailing there is a way of learning what those things are without making all of the mistakes for one’s self?