Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dark at Night

For the first time in untold years a day has gone by and Deb and I haven't talked. After a long week of flying, an early get up this morning in Ft. Lauderdale, and the drive to the lake, I was looking forward to hearing her voice. I missed her call but when I booted up the 'puter to make this entry, her post made my day.

I was out on Nomad when she called, doing a night sail with Barry. His Juno is being fitted with a new main sail and is temporarily out of commission. Being in need of a sailing fix, and since Deb and I have enjoyed many a night sail on his boat, it only seemed fair that Nomad stand in.

I mentioned to Barry that this was the first time I had successfully backed out of the slip since Deb normally handles the helm when we start out. (The one and only other time I tried, on our very first sail, we ended up facing the wrong direction.) He laughed, saying, "Well I guess we know who owns this boat."

It wasn't quite full dark when we started. Barry took the helm while I hoisted the sails. We turned to a broad reach down the lake, set the trim, and ambled off at a sedate pace. Big boomers were lighting up the sky to the east while in the west the sun set in a blazing red sky. After an hour or so we had managed about 1/3 of the way down the lake. Now in full darkness the storms looked menacingly close, though in reality they were moving away. We made a single tack, pointed toward the marina, and started for home. We chatted airplanes and boats, Barry showed me a few pointers on setting the sails in the very light breeze, and eventually we drew a bead on the point by turning dead down wind. The jib was completely blanked by the main and started luffing, so I dropped it to the deck, started our little motor, sheeted the main in tight and dropped it as well while Barry steered down the channel. This all went pretty well. Even in the dark I could find the lines, clutches, and other bits needed to stow the sails. It was still a good idea to step carefully though. The lake water looks a bit uninviting at night.

Once in the marina Barry allowed as, since it is (sort of) my boat, I could put it in the slip. It turned out this was much easier said than done, even in the total calm behind the breakwater. The moon had set and the parking lot lights were more of a hinder than a help, reflecting off the water and making it very hard to see the docks and other boats in the dark. I managed to find Nomad's berth and slipped us in with little drama, but I'm thinking it was more luck than skill. Next time I will have flashlights at hand; the stars alone (amazing as they are on a dark lake) are simply not enough to see by.

I'm sitting alone now on my little boat, fading fast and astonished at how empty it feels without Deb on board. We will hook up tomorrow sometime, somewhere, and that will be the best part of my birthday.

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