Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two-boat, half-weekend.

It was good to step aboard Nomad and all was as we had left her 18 days ago. Settling into the routine of unbuttoning the boat on a perfect day reminded me of why we like this lifestyle so much. Kathy and Arild were headed for the lake as well to join us for a Friday night cove out and Saturday sail, only fair since their ranch had been the center of operations for last weekend's motorcycle shenanigans.

One other boat mumbled past us as our little motor carried us to Coles Creek. (Under power sailboats sort of putter along making a muted, gurgling kind of noise which suggests that, while they understand the need to move under mechanical urgings once in a while, they are not completely happy about it.) Nomad is no faster under power than she is under sail. By the time she had set her hook just inside the "NO WAKE" markers this other boat was already settled in for the night a few hundred feet away. Dinner was a feast that filled our cabin with good food and good talk. Later our guests disappeared into the V-berth while Deb and I were lazying around in the cockpit. We decided we were pretty comfortable so sleeping bags and pillows were hauled up the companionway. We spent a perfect night under the Bimini, Nomad barely moving in the quiet cove.

Light winds were forecast for Saturday so after an awesome breakfast (cheese omelets, sausage, raisin-cinnamon toast, and coffee for 4 off our little two-burner alcohol stove) we headed off into the lake flying our big drifter. It was slow going at first, just 2 knots or so, wing on wing going dead downwind. It seemed the dam was a long way away so we turned up the lake and into a freshening breeze; a breeze that became increasingly funky...gusting and fading while shifting 20 to 30 degrees at a time. Nomad would go from moving easily across a smooth lake to heeling hard in bumpy wavelets and then settle back again. At one point we actually dipped a rail into the water, (something Deb and I enjoyed, Arild laughed at, and Kathy found less than amusing). A somewhat weird but fun sail.

I expected a mid-day fade to the winds so we put into the dock thinking about heading home. (Kathy and Arild were teaching a class on Sunday; Deb and I needed to take Amber, Catherine and Mary to the airport after their visit.) But Barry was looking for crew for an end of the day run and I thought Kathy and Arild might enjoy a night sail on Juno as much as Deb and I do. And I was right. (Besides, turn down a night sail on Juno? No chance.)

Juno strutted her stuff romping up and down the lake in a solid wind. The stars glittered, Jupiter shone brightly, and waves foamed and hissed along the hull as Arild learned the fine art of tacking Juno's big jib. His task was complicated a bit as he had spent the day trying to learn to tack Nomad and the two boats are as different as night and day when it comes to getting them cleanly through the wind. Nomad wants her head sail backed solidly before tossing the lazy sheet and picking up the tension on the downwind side. (Learning the proper moment to let the jib cross the deck has taken Deb and I nearly two seasons of practice, and untold hundreds of tacks.) Juno needs no such coaxing. As soon as the jib starts to rattle toss the now lazy sheet and grind like crazy to pick up the tension on the other line. It is a matter of style and timing that is a lot harder to master than it sounds, and having two such completely different boats tossed at him on his first day on the winch was a challenge. Arild stuck with it and by the end of the night had graduated from landlubber to "grinder basic," which is still a rank or two below "deck monkey."

I got to be the deck monkey for the evening and had great fun. We changed head sails a couple of times, using the jib to cross the lake, setting a big spinnaker for the down wind run to the dam, and then back to the jib for the beat into the wind which was, by then, blowing directly out of the heading to Boulder. While Arild worked the starboard winch and I clambered around the boat, (with a short stint below to catch a nap) Deb spent a good bit of the evening at the helm. She loves sailing Juno and though Barry is good about sharing pointers Deb doesn't need much advice any more. She kept the sails full as we worked our way home through the night. Alas, even good sails must come to an end and Barry eased his Albin back into her slip in time for Deb and I to be on the bikes by 2200. It was midnight by the time we climbed into our Central West End berth. Though not equal to the cockpit of Nomad under the stars, it did feel pretty good.

1 comment:

RedDog said...

We told some folks we were going sailing in IL ... and it was a great total experience (nature, chat, sleep, food (awesome!), thoughts, people, fluids ...
We landlubbers had a blast on these 2 fine sailboats and got a slight insight in your new passion. We realize it's really real!
Thanks for a great weekend!