Well, I don’t know where to start. The last two weekends have both had some good lessons to teach us out on our Precision 23. Both lessons remind us to be careful and alert. The first one brought home the message about informing passengers about their different roles in a given circumstance. It also gave us a chance to practice our man-overboard techniques, which I’m sorry to report need more practice. Fortunately I only lost my treasured Hooper’s Yachts cap in the ordeal. As I said, the take home lesson was that the crew should be informed beforehand and not during the situation of their tasks.
As has happed to many sailors I’m sure, I looked up at the Windex and off blew my cap. I am proud to report that I did not follow my first instinct which was to immediately dive overboard to fetch my cap. One little thing that was noteworthy was that as the cap blew off my chromus domus it landed on top of the outboard motor and hovered on its bill for what seemed like about 3 seconds, but of course just as I was reaching for it it went in the water. Thats when I almost dove in and if I would have had a life jacket on I probably would have. I tend to be a little impetuous that way and that will most likely be my demise some day. Any way, we made a gallant attempt to do a man-overboard maneuver, but as I said we were not successful. About the only thing we got right was yelling man overboard, but then I’ve seen where they say not to say that either as it tends to freak every one out, so maybe we didn’t do that right either. We didn’t toss the throwable device over, which would have made keeping track of the hat easier. No one was assigned the task of watching the “man-overboard,” so we quickly lost track of the cap. We were heading down wind at the time and it was fairly windy so I was a little apprehensive about doing an emergency jibe and the momentary confusion about jibing and tacking was enough to put some distance between us and the poor sinking “man overboard.” We made about three passes, of course no one agreed where exactly the “man-overboard” should be by now. We don’t have a GPS on our sailboat, so that could have been helpful if I would have had the sense to hit the button it this situation. So alas, it was not meant to be, we were not successful. Honey Bunny said she would have spent a little more time looking if it had been me that went in the water rather than my cap. I’m not sure about that however, as she followed up with some inquiries as to the location of our will and life insurance policies. So, Brain if you happen to see this you can mail me a new cap when you get the chance. Thanks.
On to lesson number two. Reefing makes a lot of sense some times and leaving the reef in makes even more sense some times. That’s the take home lesson here. We started out last Saturday with a double reefed main and a postage stamp for the head sail, as the winds were upwards of 20 knots for most of the morning. We sailed over to Long Point, set anchor, had lunch and went for a swim. The winds seemed to abate to around 10 to 15 knots, so we hoisted full sail and went sailing afterwards. Later, off in the distance, way off in the distance. Perhaps 50 miles away, I noticed a cumulonimbus cloud forming. Given the distance, I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought as it seemed to be tracking to north of us. Mistake! As I said we were sailing with full sails when the gust came, I’m estimating that it was about 30 knots. Honey Bunny was at the helm as usual and I was sitting on the windward side of the cockpit, thankfully. My wife says she is pretty sure the rail was in the water during the gust, but she was distracted wondering how a twelve year old girl got on our boat. She quickly figured out all the screaming was from me though. Oh well, so much for bravery. Foolishly, we also had all the ports open, three on each side, and that is what held my attention as we were about to test the righting moment of a Precision 23. At least that is what was going through my pointy little head at the moment. According to the helms-person , our sailboat stabilized at that point and held there momentarily before she let out the main and headed up to level the boat out and also to alleviate all the screaming no doubt. So after things calmed down in the cockpit again, I went below and close the ports and changed my shorts. The winds remained gusty for a while but that was the worst of it. Later we did have another big gust but by now we were reefed again. I was helming this time, rarely I might add, and was able to control the boat by rounding up and letting the main sheet out completely, thus averting a broach. We looked around and that is what the other sailboats near us were doing too. So, reef early and leave the reef in when the weather is unstable, that is the lesson of the day.
If you are looking for a great explanation of weather check out this site. It is geared towards pilots, but is the most informative information I’ve found so far. www.free-online-private-pilot-ground-school.com/Aviation-Weather-Principles.html. This is where the cloud image came from as well.
Hope every one enjoys safe sailing this year and don’t forget to practice your man-overboard techniques.