Friday, March 21, 2014

The Right Rite of Spring

Spring sprung yesterday, and magically, or maybe not, I got to sail yesterday too.  The ice had been clearing over the past 4 days or so and I have been watching and waiting for the moment that seemed right to go down to the docks and restore the outboard to it's proper place on the stern of the boat.  Yesterday was warm but rather breezy and I wasn't sure that I'd do much more than get the boat set up by putting the motor back on and checking out all the rigging.
The wind was out of the west and gusty and that meant that I could just beam reach up and down the river, hugging the eastern shore to get some shelter from the land.  But this always means that the gusty shifts are stronger as they are affected by the land features.  Using just the staysail as the jib we probably averaged 4 knots the entire time and only once got the rail close to the water.  Mostly it was just nice sailing, with a cool wind, but a warm sun.
It was about 3 months without sailing, almost literally the whole of winter, to the day.  I always get a little nervous about beginning to get sailing again after being away for so long.  Mostly it is because of having to negotiate the marina, which is a tight space and has to be done under power of the motor.  Sailboats are not designed to be the best under motor power, but this little boat is better than the Bristol.  I think it has to do with the Venture being lower in the water, it has much less freeboard, and having no canvas dodger to catch the breeze and be blown sideways.  If the Bristol where a heavier boat it might be a bit less affected by cross winds and such when under power, but it weighs in at a light 6600 pounds.
Another large difference in the ease of handling the Venture is the placement of the outboard motor.  It being on the transom puts it next to the rudder, instead of behind it, as on the Bristol.  When the prop is behind the rudder steering in reverse, as one does when leaving a berth, is very difficult.  The wash from the prop pushes the rudder over hard and makes subtle steering almost impossible.  If the motor was steerable on the Bristol, which it is not due to it being in a well instead of accessible like the transom hung position on the Venture, then the tiller could be made fast and the steering could be done with the outboard.
I have about 25 more days left at the marina under my current contract.  I have to decide wether or not to try to purchase a slip for the summer.  The price is more than I really think is reasonable but I do benefit so much from having a boat in the water and ready to go.  I'd have to sail 25 days a month for the entire season to equal the cost of just launching at the ramp when I want to sail.  I'd like to be sailing that much but I don't think it will happen.
I do believe I would sail more by having the boat in the slip and ready rather than having to hook up the trailer, drive to the launch, step the mast and rig the boat, & launch, all before I get to sail each time.  There is also the benefit of being able to just go to the boat, even just to sit and be on the water that makes the marina an attractive idea.
According to the calendar, Spring has begun, and according to my boating meter, Spring has begun.  It was a happy coincidence.

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