Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A good day ...

The intention was to spend most of this month sailing around Biscayne Bay. Not to be too blunt, I need the practice. Even after 2000 nm Kintala still gives hints that she isn't always happy with the way she is being handled. But Sister Sky had different ideas about the things that might go on during November this year in southern Fl. So, instead of sailing, our old Tartan collected bottom barnacles in Middle River, Miami Stadium, and then in No Name Harbor. After weeks of constant F5 winds we finally left No Name this morning and got in a good day … in steady F5 winds. (In addition No Name has a 2 week limit per visit. Don't tell anyone but today was day 13 for us. I like No Name, but it was time to move on.)

It is about 5 miles from No Name to the Dinner Key mooring field. Kintala covered a bit more than 20 today. We were having so much fun out romping that we kind of went the long way around. We practiced different sail sets, hove to, and generally tried to get a little better at making the boat go. One thing we pretty much verified is that, often, we simply don't drive the boat hard enough. With the jib alone we were doing a solid 5+ in mid teens winds with gusts in the low 20s. Going south we found a bit more wind and decided to roll up the jib and fly the stay sail. Kintala did not approve. Speed fell to the high 3s as the boat wallowed around and generally misbehaved. The stay sail was rolled back in and about two-thirds of the jib went back out. The speed picked up to the mid to high 5s and flirted with 6. The boat danced happily through the waves. Lesson learned. When the winds blow, fly enough canvas to keep the speed well above 5, but not so much as to set the boat on its ear.

Somewhere in all of our tacking and jibing the jib leach line tore out and the sumbrella got a couple of rips in it. Not sure how that happened but, it must be admitted, Kintala's suit of sails is a bit weary. The only real party dress she has in her closet is the nearly new main sail. To keep from doing any more damage, the jib got benched and the stay sail went back in play. That is not enough horsepower on a broad reach unless the wind is flat howling. Force 5 is short of howling so we put up a double reefed main in an attempt to balance the boat with the small head sail. It worked pretty well. This was the first time we flew two reefs with a purpose and getting all the rigging squared away took the deck monkey a few tries. The top batten got caught in the lazy jacks and, being on a reach rather than close hauled, the leeward running back was in the way. (Tight on the wind - which is when we usually fly the stay sail - we normally leave both the running backs set as the boom never gets that far from the center of the boat.)

Adding to the fun, just when we were set to drop the main and enter the channel into the marina and on to the mooring field, a sneaky little storm slapped us with heavy rains and wind gusts into the 30s. Visibility went into the dumpster and, soaking wet in the cold wind, so did the crew body temperatures. It was a busy couple of uncomfortable minutes but the main fell cleanly into the lazy jacks, the stay sail went - not so cleanly - onto its furler, and the WesterBeast picked up the traces. Once in the mooring field Deb made a perfect pass at the ball but I missed the catch, forcing her to go around through the clutch of boats to give me another shot. This with more rain and the winds gusting into the 20s again. One of the reasons we get along so well is that she never makes much of my mistakes. I will do the same as soon as she makes one.

Photo courtesy of Leave Happier Photography
So we have joined the rest of the crowd getting bounced around in the mooring field this evening. Winds are still a solid F5 running to F6 when the storms pass nearby. There is still some deck work to do and the dink needs launched, but it will have to wait until morning. The constant work of the day has set my forearms on fire, though a cold Coke & Vodka is helping to damp the flames. (Kintala is suffering a lack of Rum at the moment … not sure how I let that happen.) Tomorrow we go into full project mode and in a couple of weeks we will make the trip to meet New Grand Daughter Edie and see family not hugged for more than a year.

Since Kintala will not move again until we stage for the Islands, it was good to get this day of sailing in; rain, wind, torn sail, and all.

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