Thursday, March 27, 2014

sail #12

Today felt like the day that the real cold of winter left us for the season.  Something about the height of the suns track in the sky and the warmth of the ground all seems to point to the end of a very long winter.
I set out on my 12th sail of the winter season today.  I made a triangular course of the bay, starboard tack, then port, then downwind.  The wind was out of the south, against the ebbing tide and it had quite a long fetch to build up the waves that made it a bouncy raucous sail.  I sometimes hear people talk about sailing and say how peaceful and quite it is.  I always wonder what their sailing must be like and what they might think of a sail with me.  Though I do find the sound of being under way comforting, I do not find it quite.  In fact I very much like the sound of sailing and have a strong association to those various sounds of a boat underway.
There is of course the sound of the hull making it's way thru the water.  That can have many different qualities depending on the day and conditions.  There is also the sound of the wind passing thru the rigging and past my ears.  Then there is the boat.  The boat is never quite, and the hull seems to amplify any sounds made in the rigging or from gear shifting or from the water as it passes by or pushes against it.
Today's sail was with the working jib alone and I did get it to tack easily enough.  The wind was probably about 12-15knots and there were lots of waves swelling and breaking because of the contrary tide.  It all made for great fun.
I have to say that the addition of a bit of shock cord to the tiller and run to each gunwale has made the steering of the boat so much less squirrelly. I sometimes just have the shock cord friction against the tiller and other times take  turn around the tiller.  With this set up I can get away from it to tend to the boat for a few moments with out the boat immediately heading up or off.  I can, when the sail is trimmed right and the heading is right, sometimes walk forward and leave the tiller all together with this set up.
Only 2 and a half weeks left of the winter slip rental.  Still undecided about taking a slip for the summer but I am leaning away from it.  It just seems a bit much to spend on larking around on the river, especially considering that I can now trailer my boat.
Still nice to have the river to myself.  This won't last much longer now that the season has turned, I am sure.

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.