Monday, July 4, 2011


Kristin, (eldest daughter) Brian, (Son-in-Law in excellent standing) and grand child Christopher joined us for part of the holiday weekend. They are the branch of the family most enchanted by our sailboat plans and they join us whenever they can. Sadly that is not often enough, but whenever they do come aboard makes for a special time.

Christopher has perfected the art of climbing up and down the companionway stairs, which tower nearly 3 times higher than his own toes to nose distance, equivalent to me going up about 16 feet. Pretty impressive for a 2 year old. He also decided that swimming in the lake is about the coolest thing a person can do, particularly when the crews of 12 rafted up boats are all splashing around as well. Ours can be a pretty family oriented marina and this Fourth of July raft-up / fireworks party included a large contingent of participants that ranged from age 2 to 14.

Around 0300 something frightened Christopher and he woke up crying, which woke up the rest of his crew. Kind of a good thing actually, since the wind had shifted, (there wasn't supposed to be any wind) twisting the boats 180 degrees. We had deployed the anchors off the 3 largest boats and played out plenty of rode, but the raft had pivoted around Kintala. She was holding all 12 boats in place. I went out to the cockpit to spend the rest of the night on anchor watch. As the winds picked up and lightning flashed a couple of more shadowy figures could be seen walking various decks. By dawn the winds had eased, the boats had drifted around to their original orientation, and all was well with the world.

By mid-morning Kristin and family had been ferried over to the car by friend Jeff and his wave runner so they could head into the city to visit siblings. Boats motored out onto glassy waters to try and hunt a little wind, Kintala in trail. It turns out we have another item to add to the "fix-it" list; the anchor windlass and the anchor chain appear to be a miss-match. The chain jumps the windlass drum under the slightest load so yours truly started the morning by hauling up the anchor hand-over-hand. (So now I get to learn all about windlasses.) We got it done though and Kintala, Deb and I headed off for the first sail with just the 3 off us.

And it was GRAND! As the winds slowly built we flew the full jib and main, added the staysail, doused the staysail when the winds built even more, came close to putting a rail in the water, made 7 knots in 15 knots apparent, closed on the marina after tacking up the lake, furled the jib without fuss, then dropped the main just as a massive gust front nailed us from the storm we had been trying to outrun. Main under control Deb turned us back out into the lake so we had some room to figure out what to do next. There was just too much wind to make trying to shoehorn Kintala into her slip a good idea. We puttered around in the lee of the point riding the calmest water we could see and watching a second, massive, dark, lighting spitting mountain of a cloud start to roll over the lake from the dam. Things was about to get interesting.

The first storm moved away, the apparent winds died to less than 10 knots and Kintala made a dash for home. Down the lake the white sticks of friends boats were set in relief against the black storm trying to run them down. Waiting friends fielded our lines and we were warped in secure. Deb got the boat closed up while I joined the group catching the incoming fleet. The marina's big Cat coughed a motor just as it turned the corner. A small army of helpers minimized the damage as the boat bounced off of a line of finger piers and sterns, finally corralling Tango in the nearest open slip. Miss-My-Money, Paradise, Orca, and a few others coasted into waiting hands, with Gail Force taking to her slip just as the trees seemed to give way to the winds. The most exciting part of the day came when a boat that had cooked its engine trying to run came charging down the channel under bare poles. Friends ran out into the driving rain to muscle this last survivor home...

...and all was well with the world.

No comments: