Monday, May 25, 2009

Home from Paradise

So we learned how to handle a big Cat. We sailed in the biggest waves we have yet seen, waited out weather, and spent the night on the hook in near gale force winds. In addition we explored a new cruising ground that I would love to visit again, heard some great music, met some good people, and spent some quiet time in the Navy Museum (appropriate on the Memorial Day Weekend).

After leaving Lady Marian we headed north, making it to Nashville for the night. With an early start this morning (Well, not that early. It was still vacation after all.) we decided to stop by Boulder for a few hours and see how Nomad was faring. By the time we got there most of the holiday weekend crowd had already disappeared with a few die hard types still poking around their boats and just a handful of sails out on the lake. Friends Jeff, who sails Gale Force, and Jim, skipper of Spinning Dreams, were planning to take Jim's boat out for a quick sail and invited us along. It is impossible to get in too much sailing in a week, so of course we said yes. Just clear of the slip Jim handed the helm over to Deb and off we went for a "final, final sail" of our vacation adventure. It turned out to be a good one too. The winds piped up enough to us to see 6+ knots and for the first time this week our ride took on a pronounced heel. A last little bit of Paradise to finish off what, in the end, turned out to be a perfect week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Can I have one please?

This morning we had the boat all ready to go right at 9:00 when our instructor arrived. The day dawned bright and sunny and we were up at 6:30 anxious to go. We were only going to get another 3 or 4 hours of sailing in before they were going to kick us off so the cleaning crew could ready the boat for the next visitors, and we wanted to make the best of it. Who knew that Florida actually really does have sunshine and blue sky?



We first had to maneuver the cat out of the slip which was a challenge this morning since they had parked a great big trawler right across our stern. The twin engines on the cat performed flawlessly and we side-stepped out of the slip with no more than a few feet on either end. (Try that in a monohull). We headed out into the bay, put up the sails, and just tacked up the bay to the Deer Point 144 marker.



Our instructor relaxed in the cockpit and let the two of us do all the sailing and tacking by ourselves as if we were on the boat alone. At the end of the morning he pronounced us ready to sail the cat by ourselves. It was a gorgeous morning with puffy clouds and deep blue water and warm breezes. It was the perfect end to the perfect week for us. There were moments of frustration during the week, but in the end it was perfectly designed to accomplish what we intended to accomplish - to learn if we could live full time on a catamaran. The answer? In the end we decided that we could easily toss our kids the key to the house and say "Seeya". There was just not a thing more we needed to be happy than what we had on the boat at that moment, and that was a bit of an epiphany.

Some more miscellaneous thoughts from the week: Full-time liveaboards are undoubtedly the most interesting people on the face of the planet. If you ever make it to the Keys and you see a dive salvage operation on a ketch sailboat of indeterminate origin run by Captain Fish (the man) and Captain Jack (the dog), say hello for us.



Night watches are going to be one of my favorite times.

I can't imagine doing this with anyone besides my best friend :)







Laying on the trampoline hanging over the edge:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rags to Riches

Thursday I was getting pretty discouraged. One can only do what one can do, but it was looking like this trip was going to be less than stellar. Then Fred showed up yesterday morning with a head sail in his truck and plans to anchor out.

So this morning we were all up and about around 0700. Gusting winds and bands of low clouds and rain flowing overhead greeted us as Deb brewed up some morning coffee. With the anchor holding steady we all cheered the wind meter as the numbers built in the gusts; Force 5 was easy (17 - 21 knots) and Force 6 (22 - 27) went by as well. We rang up a Force 7 (28 - 33) gust and the winds held there for a while. (Force 7 is officially a "near gale.") Another band of low clouds blew by as the meter climbed again and then, there it was, "34.7" Force 8 and officially a "gale force" gust. All while sitting warm and dry in the salon, sipping a cup of coffee without even holding on. (Okay, so properly anchored this big old Cat can handle some weather after all.) The low that had bedeviled us all week was going ashore around Biloxi, putting us (finally!) on the back side. We all knew that the longer we sat the better the weather would get.



A few hours later the weather started to ease so we hauled in the anchor (Deb is getting pretty good at driving Lady Marian up the rode) and, since the winds were directly out of the direction we needed to go, made like a motor boat back to the slip. The seas were interesting and while Deb took care of the helm I worked the charts and GPS to keep us on course. (It was pretty easy to do, Lady Marin is equipped with GPS, electronic charts with position reporting, and RADAR. In addition Fred had his hand held GPS and there is a full set of paper charts on board. I don't think we could have gotten lost if we tried.)

I tried taking a video over the bows that showed the spray flying and the pitching deck, but as usual the vid doesn't do the seas justice. But here is the view between the hulls as we worked our way past the inlet to the Gulf.

video

This time around I got to try my hand at docking, though I got the easy one. With the winds blowing us onto the slip all I had to do was back Lady Marian down the dock, then bump an engine or two to keep us lined up as the winds gently pushed us home.

So tomorrow morning we will head out one last time for a few hours, hopefully in the first nice day they have had around here for a week, spend a little more time under sail, and then start the two day drive to St. Louis. It has been a really good trip after all.

(Oh, and just for the record; Deb and I both missed just one question on our last written test. Alas, the one I missed was worth two points, the one she missed was worth just one. Outscored again.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Anchor Watch

The boat is mostly dark. The anchor light is out of sight at the top of the mast while I sit alone in the salon, in a small pool of light that flows from this computer screen. Deb and Fred have turned in. I am on "anchor watch."

Outside the wind moans, a light rain is falling and, for the first time in my life, I am watching a Light House light do what Light House lights were meant to do, mark a spot for sailors. Out in the darkness salt water laps against the hulls with an occasional "splash" that marks the passing of a slightly larger wave. The weather gurus say some storms will pass our way tonight but so far the southern horizon is black as can be. East and north city lights glow in the clouds. I feel like I did on my first night IFR flight, where the whole world was reduced to my little bit of cockpit. It is much the same this evening. My world, right now, is a different place than it has ever been before.

Anchored in the storm

Well we did finally get to go sailing and we are anchored off Spanish Point in Big Lagoon. We have now anchored 4 times to find good bottom and we are currently holding well. It's been a good day. We motored out to a small cove and turned into the wind to anchor so that we could put the repaired head sail up. The sail went up without anyone getting hurt or going in the water, a feat which is truly amazing if you've ever tried to put a large head sail up in 15 knots of wind. Then we sailed over to Bayou Chico to have lunch at the Oar House. I got to dock the boat, my heart hammering the whole time due to the rather close quarters and the wide beam of this boat. I managed not to embarrass myself. After a fantastic lunch of fish & chips we headed out to our anchorage. We raced a thunderstorm to the anchorage and had to do a rather hasty little bit of anchoring. It got us through the storm but we ended up having to hoist it and move and try again. We took our catamaran course test (which we both passed) and had dinner, and now we're just sitting here enjoying the rain outside while we're dry and comfortable inside. I'll let the pictures and videos tell the rest of the story.







video

There is something uniquely satisfying about sitting here in this storm. I feel horribly inadequate to the task of describing it to you all, though, so you'll just have to take my word for it. All I can say is that I'm looking forward even more to the day when we'll be sitting at anchor, but on our boat.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Definition of frustrating

Partly cloudy skies, sparkling blue water, steady winds...and no sailing. That is my new definition of frustrating.

All the experts around here keep telling me that the winds are too high to sail, and who am I to argue with the experts? But deep in my heart I have to wonder, if this 40 foot cat can't handle the winds and waves I am seeing out the window, than this thing isn't as seaworthy as Nomad. (Other conversations today have reminded me of another truism in sailing, everybody is an expert, and no two of them agree on anything.)

Ah well, such (I guess) is the life of a sailor. It is surely the life of a pilot. As the old saw goes, "It is much better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground." The big difference here is that they pay me to be in the air, and I am paying them to sit at this dock. Still, rule #1, "Don't get hurt," and rule #2, "Don't hurt the equipment," apply to rented boats as much as airplanes. So I will defer to the wisdom of the graybeard sailors.

I gotta say though, this graybeard pilot would launch into the sky without much concern. Winds gusting to 30 and scattered TRWs are simply not much weather. So it looks like one of the things I need to learn is that boats simply can't handle the weather I am used to seeing in the jet. And if movies can be trusted (ha-ha) that would be the case. I mean, really, how many times has it been reported that some boat is floundering somewhere out in a violent sea, desperate and about to go under, and who is overhead saving the day? Some hard working airplane (or helicopter) driver who is out in the same weather that sunk the boat. I also gotta admit that, where I thinking of heading out on the GSXR, this weather wouldn't be much a deterrent either. So apparently airplanes can handle more weather than motorcycles, and both can handle more weather than boats.

I guess a good place to start learning that is tied securely to a dock in Pensacola, Fl.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day Four

In the guise of experiencing the cruising life, we headed out today to venture into locales unknown while biding our time waiting for the weather. A very short drive took us to the Naval Air Museum where we spent most of the day browsing through interesting history and learning about some of the men who made our freedom possible at great cost to their own.

Here's a picture of a 3 story flag at the museum



The Blue Angels Display



And a model of one of the first aircraft carriers. Can you imagine trying to land on this thing? I guess not as bad as the poor deck monkey that had to put the sandbag-anchored lines back in place to hook the next plane... (click on it to view the big version - definitely worth seeing the detail in this one)




We had a chance to see the IMAX movie Fighter Pilot, which is not for the airsick prone, since it's on a 7 story tall screen that's 85 feet wide. Definitely worth the eight bucks. We stopped on the way back to the marina to pick up a couple paperbacks and we've spent the rest of the afternoon luxuriously reading and listening to the wind still howling in the rigging and tearing at the palm trees across the inlet.

I forgot to post a couple pictures from last night. I took a short walk on the beach across from our boat and happened to notice that my footprints were falling next to a great blue heron's. If you know how big my feet are, you can appreciate this picture. A great blue heron with size 10 feet...



And lest I be accused of shirking my duty, the requisite vacation sunset picture



Now all we need is for the wind to stop blowing so hard long enough that we can actually go sailing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marooned in Paradise

Being both a pilot and a biker means I have had my share of weather delays. This one is hands down the best one I have ever had. Instead of heading home or to New Orleans, we will be spending an extra 2 or 3 days on Lady Marian. Extra days on a 40 foot cat with Deb, parked on the Pensacola beach? Twist my arm!

Truth to tell I am moving a bit slow today anyway. We took one of our tests this morning instead of heading off into the still building winds. (Deb was nice enough not to score 100% this time, but she still scored higher than me.) Then, since no one is going anywhere right away, we helped Rick and Fred pull the torn head sail down for repair. That was kind of fun though it did take all four of us to wrestle the thing to the trampoline in the breeze. I'm kind of glad of the repair. Blowing that monster of a sail into rags while sailing in 40 knot winds, bashing through 3 or 4 foot seas, and maybe dodging thunderstorms at the same time, is probably not a normal part of the ASA 114 syllabus. In fact I think the school would be paying me for that one rather than the other way around.

So for the time being Deb and I are just tourists; our hotel room a floating condo just steps from the boardwalk. If you have to be marooned somewhere, there are lots worse places than this place. Thunderstorms, rain and high winds might make it a bit exciting even tied to the pier. This "condo" has a Raymarine weather radar to paint the incoming storms and a wind meter that (as I type this) is reading 30.4 knots. (Equipment not normally found at the Holiday Inn.) But all weather eventually moves and we will be sailing again soon.

Wind Speed gusting to 40

OK if one of my children is praying for wind for us so we can go sailing, STOP!

Our instructor hasn't gotten here yet this morning, but it's pretty evident that we won't be able to go sailing today or tomorrow unless it's possible to get the boat out of here and a little farther up north toward Pensacola. As soon as he gets here we're going to ask, but given the small tear in our jib, I'm not sure that's going to be possible. We'll keep you updated but in the mean time here's a short clip of the wind here. It's the same as the wave height issue - you can't really see how strong it is in the video, but if you look at the water you can watch the gusts shoot across the surface at about 40 knots.

video

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day Two

This is a big boat. No let me rephrase that - this is a BIG FREAKING BOAT. After sailing Nomad for a year I am completely blown away by how BIG this boat is. And in acknowledgment of Tim's previous post, I confess I am a perfectionist (no smart ass comments please). In my defense though, I didn't expect to sail it perfectly the first time, but I would very much have liked to feel like I at least had even the tiniest bit of control over what I was doing. We spent the day at an average apparent wind speed of 25 knots with gusts to 34, which wouldn't be that big of a deal on Nomad in our lake, but this boat is twice as wide and 13 feet longer than Nomad and twice as heavy. Getting it anywhere near where I want it to be is going to require a few more days, and given the wind forecast here for the next few days it may not happen during this course at all. Here's a video with me at the helm. One thing that sailors complain about all the time is that when you photograph or video big waves they "flatten" out. These waves were in the 2 ft range when we left and were over 3 feet when we returned.

video

And here is our ever-patient instructor Fred:



Tomorrow I hope to at least have some modicum of grace in my handling of Lady Marian. The wind is supposed to be howling again though so only time will tell.

Drop kicked by a big Cat

I almost lost a fingernail, a running jib sheet left a rope burn behind, and I didn't pay enough attention to the main sheet, (which on this boat is a 1/2 inch line on a 4X block that runs from the deck to the end of the boom, about 7 feet). As a result I got caught flatfooted by a jibe, upended by the main sheet and unceremoniously dumped over the seat back and onto the cockpit floor. (That one is going to leave a mark in the morning.) We think we got an overheat warning from one engine and the head sail has a small tear in it that may mean I'll need to ride the bosum's chair to the top of the mast before we can leave in the morning. It was a perfect day!

(Here's a picture of me holding the main sheet, safe at the dock. The boom is that big chuck of metal still a couple of feet over my head. As you can see, when that thing is being pushed by 20+ knots worth of wind, one needs to get out of the way.)



How can I say that? Because it was too much fun. At one point the winds were gusting to near 30 knots, the bay was lumped up with whitecaps, spay flew from the leeward bow, and I had the autopilot (Autopilot...how cool is that?) holding our heading. We could have been a part of a "learn to sail" commercial. (They would cut out the "throw his dumb ass around the cockpit" part.)



Deb was a little disappointed that we weren't perfect on this, our first try at a big cat. But I think differently. During the man overboard drills we got Lady Marian stopped within a couple of feet of "Wilson" (a yellow ball on a rope) on the first try. I thought that was pretty good but Wilson, lacking arms, legs and a brain, couldn't swim the last few feet for me to catch him with a boat hook. We got within a couple of feet on several more tries before I snagged his little yellow butt and dragged him back on board. (It was a bit lumpy out there and I didn't want to end up in the water with him. Man overboard practice is one thing, actually having a man overboard is quite another.) Of course, once I did get him on board our instructor tossed him over again so we could practice some more. Nice guy, our instructor, but I don't think he likes Wilson. Anyway, we got out, we did uncounted tacks and jibes, hove too, had lunch, saved Wilson a couple of times, and made it back in. We are a bit tired, a bit sore, and I have a claw mark or two, (reminders from Lady Marian that stupid can hurt) but I think we did pretty well.

We didn't actually learn anything new about sailing. Tacking, jibing, points of sails, systems; all are just like what we do on Nomad. But it is a matter of scale. Nomad never has us in a spot where the ropes controlling the sails can't be manhandled into place. Not so with Lady Marian. Once loaded the monster sails on this thing make pulling the sheets in any tighter impossible. The rigging is massive, don't let digits get near running winches, and keep bodies out of the way of the main sheet and boom! This thing demands a sense of timing, surefooted actions on the part of the crew, and sometimes a bit of brute force. (And, beginner though I be on big Cats, there are some things on this boat not particularly well thought out.) Tomorrow we go out to play again and I promise you I'll be keeping an eye on the main sheet.

video

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Class is out early...

...and not soon enough. 6 hours of agonizingly boring ASA bookwork class is enough to put anybody to sleep. Especially when you're doing the classwork in the salon of the boat that you really want to be sailing. Patience patience...tomorrow we sail. Probably a good thing to get the classwork done today because it rained a good part of the day. It was pretty cool being in the salon with all the windows and watching the storm go through. All the monohulls in the marina were bobbing around but we were just barely moving at all.



We did have an interesting visitor to our front porch in the middle of the day



And did I say it rained???

video

While I'm thinking about it, we've added a new page to our blog for the more technically interested. It will have many more of the technical facts that we are gathering to prepare for our retirement onto a sailboat. It's called the Boat Notebook and it's in a link in the menu bar on the right. You'll find our in-depth critique of this particular catamaran in there, but I will summarize this in laymen's terms for those of you who don't want to venture there.

What I've learned in the 24 hours since we boarded this catamaran:

1. We don't need this much boat. A 38 or 36 or even a 32 foot cat would be sufficient. Much less to clean and maintain and less things to break.

2. I can take a shower in about a gallon and a half of water and showering with an open hatch above you and warm sunshine streaming in is one of life's better pleasures.

3. Coffee tastes better on a boat.

4. I sleep much better on a boat than I do on land.

5. I don't want to anchor or have a slip in a marina in anything even resembling a resort town.

So tomorrow the fun begins. We start at 9:00am with motoring practice, learning to get in and out of the slip and backing and general maneuvering. Then Tuesday we take a day sail to get lunch. Then Wednesday we go sail all day, get lunch at the Oyster Bar and anchor out for the night. Thursday morning we head back here and Thursday afternoon we take our written tests (did I say how much I hate bookwork?). Friday morning we have a monohull chartered for half a day so we can do a fair comparison in the same waters. I think we'll be pretty busy after today!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paradise found



So here we sit in Paradise. We have poked around the boat a little trying to find things like light switches and power outlets, walked over to the store to get some groceries, and are now just sitting in the main salon eying a monster of a thunderstorm that has built just north of us across the sound. Oddly enough, though Lady Marian is much bigger than Nomad, she doesn't feel overwhelming.



Tomorrow we'll see what it is like to sail one of these things. Tonight is our first taste of what it would be like to live on one of these things. Sitting here, sipping a Rum & Coke and watching the marina go about its business, it all seems pretty cool. I have to admit, if this isn't Paradise, it is plenty close enough for me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Off to inspect Paradise

Everyone who retires to a sailboat does so (whether they admit to it or not) to experience their little piece of the Paradise that glossy magazine ads and brochures advertise to snag your cruising dollars. So we leave today, after an agonizing 8 hours at work, to take our ASA Bareboat and ASA Cruising Catamaran courses in Pensacola Beach, FL at Emerald Coast Yachts. Hmmmmmm even the name is designed to make you drift off wistfully into Paradise Dreamland...

We'll be taking the truck instead of the bikes due to the rain, and someone at work asked me yesterday whether I was disappointed about the rain forecast for a good bit of our trip. I'm not at all disappointed because the purpose of this trip is not to lay around endlessly in Florida sunshine (although I can't at the moment think of anything wrong with that), but to have fun learning about the boats we've chosen to spend our remaining years on in the type of wind and weather that we're likely to encounter, and to decide whether we really still want to do this, and to decide whether we can stand to be in such close quarters for so many years. As Tim said in a recent post, I suspect the problem will not be deciding that we don't want to do it, but that we don't want to wait to do it. And what happens if it's 12 straight days of rain and gusty wind and bugs and...? It will still be paradise, because I've long ago learned that paradise is not where you are but who you're with, and 12 days with my best friend in the whole world sounds pretty much like paradise to me.




Courtesy of Emeral Coast Yachts

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Three, twice.

Holy Galloping Goldfish Batman, 14.2 knots!

That's how fast a Corsair Marine F28R trimaran will go in 16 to 18 knots of wind on a broad reach. While Deb was off with two young guns, crewing a racing boat on a different part of the lake and sailing from a different marina, I had the chance to sail the Tri with friends from our marina. Thor (the boat) made the 6.5 NM run to the dam in about 40 minutes, screaming fast by sailboat standards. At one point we were gaining on a power boat buzzing down the lake. After the turn Thor (the Captain) let me take the tiller (my first go-around with a tiller helm) and we rocketed back up the lake heading for dinner. About two-thirds of the way home the steady wind started to build, the boat dug in and I watched the knot-meter climb from 11+, past 12 & 13, to finally settle down for a few minutes showing we could cover 14.2 nautical miles in 1/24th of a day; a new record for me. The stern on the F28 sits close to the water. Just shy of actually making a rooster tail, the stern wake loomed up higher than where I was sitting. But like all multi-hulled boats we were sitting nearly straight up, heeled less than 5 degrees. What a hoot!





Not so the mono-hulls all around us. They were listed over hard with large areas of their bottom paint exposed to the sun. Some friends on Magic Dragon, (a MacGregor 26?) somehow got heeled over so hard that they broached too. With the boat nearly on its side in a classic knockdown and sails filling with lake water, the mast failed just at the spreader bars. The boat came back up, friends from a nearby boat help them secure the tattered rigging, and they limped back into the slip with a new style "A" frame sail plan. No one was hurt but it was a scary moment on our usually quiet little lake.

Deb made it home late in the afternoon, wet, cold and pretty excited about her day. I'll let her tell the tale but it included broaching a couple of times herself; something I have yet to experience. After dinner we went for a night sail on Friend Barry's Albin; a truly classic mono-hull that can also fly. (I'm sure the boat has a name, but since it isn't painted on it anywhere everyone just calls it "Barry's boat.") I was part of the foredeck crew, hanking on the jib (he has a newly installed deck light that sure makes things easier during a night head-sail change) and then helping rig a big asymmetric spinnaker sail for the second part of the dam round trip. For a while I sat below to get out of the cool wind. I was braced on the windward settee facing a small cabin window while Deb caught a nap on the leeward bunk. (Racing boats is hard work!) The water, lit by the reflections of a full moon, flowed past as the boat heeled hard over under the drive of that monster spinnaker. I nearly nodded off myself while listening to the sounds of a boat running at full song through the waves. It was magic.

This morning we had Nomad out for a bit as well; making it a tri-boat as well as a trimaran weekend. The winds were light though and the core bugs (don't know why they call them that) were out in force, so we called it a short trip and headed in.

Next week by this time we should be getting our first taste of full time (for a few days anyway) living on a catamaran. I don't think we will top 14.2 knots though.

The 5 hour crunch

2 years ago when we took our first ASA sailing course we were completely hooked and had absolutely no boat to sail on. We discovered that the Carlyle Sailing Association had a bulletin board that you could post your name on for racers that needed crew. We never heard from anyone, and to be totally honest, I had forgotten we were still even on the list. This past week we got an email from one of the racers that he needed a crew member and would either of us be interested? Tim agreed to go. We went to the lake on Friday as usual and he was to drive over to the other side of the lake to meet them early Saturday morning. Enter stage left...Flu Strain of the 3:00am variety, 2 and a half hours of extreme familiarity with a Walmart-bag-lined trash can and the decidedly unpleasant feeling of being sick on a rolling boat, and Tim was obviously not in any condition to go racing by 9:00 am. I agreed to go in his place. Let the adventures begin! I arrived at the marina an hour early to check things out and to give Erik,the owner of the racing boat, the chance to gracefully bow [pun intended] out of the arrangement if he chose to. Here's the boat -



He was kind enough to put me at ease and tell me that they are very laid back [his pun intended you'll see in a minute] and mostly like to have fun. We began the 2 hour process of launching the boat via a large crane (with a very cool electric winch to raise and lower the boat into the water off the dock) and once in the water, to practice a few tacks and get to the starting line. Just so you get an idea of what's involved in sailing one of these here's a YouTube video of the same type of boat, although it's not the specific boat I sailed on:

video

I very quickly discovered that the fact that the 2 other crew members' ages added together were less than my age was going to have a rather pertinent bearing on my experience. As you can see in the video, you spend very nearly all the time with your feet hooked in straps on the bottom of the boat to anchor you while you lean way OUT of the boat, putting you in a horizontal position with nothing to hold you but your stomach and leg muscles. Imagine doing crunches for 5 hours straight and you get the general idea. The only time you are NOT doing this is when you're scrambling under the boom and flopping yourself down on the other side of the boat during a tack, all of this through about 3 inches of water that has poured into the boat while the gunwales were in the water (most of the time) and trying not to slip on several hundred feet of lines spread out in the bottom of the boat like a giant pile of spaghetti. You non-sailors might say, "I don't get the big deal - you've been sailing your own boat now for a whole year" and you would be justified in commenting, but comparing the Nomad to the Viper would be like comparing a Volkswagen bus to a Lamborghini.

It was at once one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done in a while and this 53 year old gramma of 3 is very thankful to Erik for the opportunity. Racing along at 12.75 knots six inches above the waves is a rush this rush junkie won't forget soon. Here is a picture of my two compatriots for the day, Joel is on the left and Erik, the owner of Rascal 2.0 is on the right.



And a picture they asked me take to advertise the boat:



For those of you who might like to read some more about this type of boat, you can go to www.viper640.org

All in all it was a great Mother's Day weekend. I was exhausted though, I hurt in places I didn't even know I had, and on a night sail we took later last evening with some friends I fell soundly asleep. By the way, I was feeling a little guilty about having so much fun while Tim was languishing sick on the boat...till I got back to the marina to find that he was not only up and about, but had spent a few hours sailing a trimaran with some friends of ours at the marina.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Second Sail

We did get the second sail of the season in today. Light winds were forecast from 10 AM to 2 PM so we left the slip with the Drifter hanked onto the fore stay, hoping to get a little sailing in even if we couldn't get very far. For once the forecast was wrong in the right direction and soon little Nomad was making close to 6 knots on a broad reach down the lake. It was pretty fun but we started to worry that the light weight head sail was over matched by the still building breeze. A middle-of-the-lake sail change ensued. Except for a bit of clumsy on the part of the deck monkey (that would be me) getting the billowing Drifter down, the sail change went pretty smooth. It was really kind of fun with the wind blowing and the deck pitching in the 1 to 2 foot waves, but I was ready for a breather after changing the sails, running the lines and then setting and sheets for a beat back into the wind.

Tight to the wind Nomad is a great ride, bashing through the waves and throwing spay past the cockpit. Once in a while a good gust would hit and she would heel over close to 30 degrees. A couple of times we were just shy of burying the gunnels, something we haven't quite managed to do yet with Nomad. We did a couple of jibes and quite a few tacks trying to gain the marina channel, but as the day wore on the winds shifted so that they were directly on our bow when we pointed the channel; fun sailing but we just weren't making any headway toward the slip. With the skies to the west starting to darken up we resorted to the motor to make the last half mile or so. (I wish I knew for sure what I have done to make our little motor so happy. It is running cool and smooth, pushing the boat to slightly more than 4 knots at 2200 RPM. If I could figure out what I did right I would keep doing it!)

It was a good day with out little boat taking good care of us while we practiced being sailors.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Big winds to no winds

I am sitting in the cabin of Nomad as she sits utterly motionless in her slip. Eric Clapton is playing on the CD. Deb is crashed in the V-birth. She was reading up on Catamaran sailing but I think the long day of working on the boat has caught up with her and she has drifted off to sleep.

We got all set to do a little sailing this morning but the flags were hanging limp and the lake appeared to be glass smooth with just a few patches of cat's paws ruffling the surface here and there. Since there was teak yet to varnish, a water system yet to clean out, and a couple of other boat items to finish, it seemed best to stay in the slip and get a little work done. That turned out to be a good call. Friend Thor and his crew left the slip this morning on the fastest boat in the marina. Late in the afternoon they drifted back in having taken more than 3 hours to cover about 4 miles; this in all up racing trimaran that can often do better than wind speed! Even flying our drifter little Nomad would have been drifting aimlessly at the mercy of the occasional zephyrs and oddball lake currents.

Fortunately the next best thing to sailing the boat is working on her, keeping our little floating cabin as close to perfect as we can. I may never have the skill to have the "best sailed" boat on the lake, but after years of fixing things I can strive to have the "best maintained" boat. With a little luck (i.e. wind) we can go out tomorrow and practice that sailing part.