Friday, November 7, 2008

And Again

I was awake for about ten minutes this morning when I decided that, there being nothing for me to do in the office, and there being a boat in front of my house, I was going sailing. Was there ever really another option on day three of my sailing apprenticeship?

I drove the three miles down to Willamette Park and started rigging up the boat. I managed to drop a little screw in the centerboard trunk and spent fifteen minutes trying to retrieve it with a combination tool of my own invention. I didn't have anything long enough to reach to the bottom of the centerboard trunk, nor did I have anything thin enough to reach up from underneath.

I used my U.S. Navy issued machinist-mate ingenuity and dropped the longest screwdriver I had in to the trunk in hopes of hitting the screw and dislodging it from it's perch just forward of the centerboard opening in the bottom of the hull. I retrieved the screwdriver with an inverted pair of channel locks. Inverted channel locks, you say? It's a technique I have considered submitting a patent for.

The channel lock pliers would not fit in with the gripping head down, so I turned them upside down and was able to grip the handle of the screwdriver between the pliers handles and gently pull the screwdriver up and out of the trunk. Alas, I was not able to dislodge the little screw. So, I gave up and went sailing, after jamming a paperclip through the screw hole to hold the boom vang in place.

Yes, astute readers will recall that boom vang was the source of some momentary confusion yesterday. I suspect that more problems may occur in this area of the rigging in the future. The boom vang may well turn out to be my personal Achilles heel.

Enough of the landlubber nonsense; I'll be spending enough time at the local chandlery, I'm sure. Today there was a nice ripply surface out on the Willamette and I was quickly underway and shooting across toward Oaks Park with a real V-wake trailing out behind me and actual bubbles coming from under the transom moments after launching.

The breeze seemed to be coming from the Southwest, so was at a slight angle to the river, about 45-deg off of straight downriver line (the Willamette pretty much runs from South to North right here). I was able to aim almost directly upriver when on a starboard tack and then toward the West shore on port, and repeat, quickly making way toward the Sellwood bridge.

I'm very impressed with how close the boat sails to the wind. I remembered to put the wind indicator on the mast today and I was slightly inside the 45-deg vector a number of times when the wind was blowing freshest.

As the breeze slacked a Mallard drake swam toward my starboard beam. I passed him and he turned and paddled along in my wake, happily keeping pace until the breeze picked up again and I left him behind. I tacked back toward the Western shore and heard a splash and my friend the drake slid in behind me again.

Twice more he caught up to me on the wing and it occurred to me that he was expecting some treat for his troubles. Unfortunately, my cranberry-orange scone crumbs were left in a paper bag in the pickup cab, back at the park. I shrugged and he paddled off, wagging his ducktail at me, "for shame, for shame."

I made it nearly to the green can just below the Sellwood and fell off for my first downwind run in my new boat. I was able to deploy the jib to starboard and the main to port and remembered to lift the centerboard. Wing and wing, I cruised slowly downwind, noticing the distinct difference in apparent wind. I was probably making just as quick a pace over ground as when tacking across the river, wind abeam, but going downwind it felt as though I was simply adrift. I checked the rudder and could see that I was definitely making way and faster than the current.

I made my a couple of jibes and then came about to sail back to the docks when the wind died on me and I ended up sculling with the rudder the last 150 meters to the launch. Fortunately, the rudder tilts, so I was able to create a near parallel to the water angle and make some good way sculling with the tiller.

As I was gliding in the last few meters, I heard a gaggle of honkers calling to each other and turned, looking to the sky for the geese. When I finally found them I realized they were at water level and headed straight at me in two groups. I was the peak of their vee.

They rose up to about eight feet off the water and converged just ahead of my mainmast, a double-wing of California-bound waterfowl, noisily honking over the boat launches and across the park. This is great stuff.


O Docker said...

This is wonderful.

Day two, and you've already discovered what boat ownership is all about.

On a boat, any loose piece of metal that you need to go sailing will fall into the only space available that is totally inaccessible.

But you've passed the first test. You went sailing anyway.

The O'Sheas said...

Ha! I'm initiated. Feels good.