This was it! My boat! My first sail! After all those lessons, the course, the books, I felt ready. I hanked the jib, bent (bended?) the main, got everything ready, cast of the dock lines, and pulled out of the slip. What a feeling!
Now I know what green and red bouys indicate, I read the books. I was fiddling with something, not sure what, when all of a sudden the boat stops! Boy that channel is narrow! Stuck in the mud! No, problem though. My instructor showed me that getting out of this mess just required some reverse throttle, a push with the paddle, and maybe some heeling over and we're off.
After about 45min. of pushing, jumping, leaning, swearing, calling on the radio (nobody there on Sunday) I sat in the cockpit thinking that at least the tide is in my favor. Another 4 hours or so and I'll be free! Alas, some wonderfully large power boat came and offered assistance. I cleated a line and it took quite a bit of pulling to get me off. After a very sincere thank-you I was on my way. Lesson learned: channel markers mark the channel. Staying in the channel is a good idea.
My first solo: (click on the picture for more pictures)
Once I got out there it was awesome! Luckily the winds were pretty light and I got the sails up no problem. My broker, who can see the habor from his office window (he has a Tartan 37), called me just after raising the sails and said "Pull your fenders up!". OK, I was just a little excited. I sailed up to Portland Headlight (click on link for GPS chart) and back and did not sink!
After an appropriate re-christening of the boat with my sister (champagne offerings to the ocean gods, a little for the gods, a little for us, a little for the gods, a little bit more for us...) I spent my first night aboard. Slept great! The port berth is plenty long for a person over 6' tall. The next day the winds were pretty strong but I was feeling more confident about handling the boat. It was tricky getting the sails up in the 10-15kt winds but I did OK. I made it past Portland Head into what I consider open ocean. Started heading back against the wind and current and then the wind died. Motored back to the slip. I took lots of pictures of the boom and mast as I am still trying to figure out what all these lines and blocks are for.
Second Solo Pictures:
First trip with the girls:
Time for some passengers and who better than the kiddos (i.e. too young to know fear!). We had a perfect sailing day and it was nice to have them tend the jib sheets. The winds were fair and we did a broad reach out to Cow Island. Of course the first thing we did was have snacks (ala Hobbes). We did have to tack a couple of times on the way back and getting into the slip is always fun (thank goodness for fenders!).
All the other trips:
From the last week in August to the last week in October I was able to get out about 20 times, mostly during the day while the kiddos were in school. I learned quite a bit about sailing the boat single-handed and now feel comfortable taking the boat out in 20kt winds. Here are some of the lessons learned:
Don't take your wife out for her first sail when the winds are blowing. It was my sixth time out on the boat and I thought I was ready to take the wife. The girls were with us and since they had gone out before they knew what to expect. Things were going along well, everyone having a good time, until the wind started picking up (est. about 15kt). Well, what do you do with wind? You sail of course! We had the boat going 7.4kts, the fastest I've gone so far, and the girls were having a blast. My wife was in the cabin (worst place to be) and was fearing for her life thinking the boat was going to tip over. Now my better judgement should have kicked in and I should have eased the sails and reduce the heel but I just couldn't.
Put the motor in gear if you want to move forward. On the same trip as above, we were coming back to the marina and I needed to lower the sails. The wind was blowing quite hard now but this would be easier because I had a crew. I put my middle daughter, Amy, at the helm, started the motor and told her to point into the wind. She had done this before on a previous sail and did quite well. I climbed up on deck and started to take the jib down and the boat veered off the wind and the sail filled making it much harder to take down. I told Amy which way to turn but nothing happened. We started doing pirouettes in the middle of the harbor. I calmly told Amy she was doing OK, I lowered the sails in the periods where we were pointing to the wind, my wife was screaming from the cabin and the other two girls were keeping watch for other boats. I just couldn't figure out why we had no stearage until I took over at the helm. The motor wasn't in gear. I told Amy what happened and that it was my fault. She understood. What a trooper!
Always feed the crew well. I think Pavlov invented this idea. If the crew is happy, the skipper is happy (or is it the other way around?). I use the small icebox for dry snack storage and it keeps things quite well. I have had an opened bag of chips in there for a few weeks and they were still crisp. After the "first wife sail" (no, a second wife is not planned so let me rephrase that as the "wife's first sail") we had to have an extra special treat after we got off the boat.
When the winds are gusting, keep
the mainsheet in your hand. I took the boat out
with my neighbor and the winds were blowing over 20kts
but I was confident that we could handle it no problem.
We got out there and I decided to go between a couple of
islands for some protection from the wind so we could eat
lunch which we did just fine. However, coming out from
behind the island into Hussy Sound the seas got very
heavy and we were hit with a gust of wind that pushed the
boat way over (I don't think the spreaders got wet but my
neighbor thought we were going for a swim). I couldn't
understand why the helm wouldn't respond but I think it
was because it was mostly out of the water. Well, the
boat rounded up into the wind and all was fine. I should
have kept the mainsheet in my hand so that I could have
released it quickly. My sailing instructor always scolded
me for not doing that. I also should have reefed the main
but I had never done so. The next time I went sailing I
spent the time to reef the main even though the winds
were light just so I would know how to do it.
It was also a very wet ride back as we were going against the wind and there was considerable spray flying in our faces. I was getting frozen to the bone while thinking that Key West would be a much better place to have this sailboat.
Motors will work fine for 20 years then fail 3 weeks after change of ownership. My boat came with a 20 year old Evinrude 4hp 2-stroke long shaft which worked great after the first day. I probably should have done some PM on it before launching, like changing the oil, but it seemed to be running great until one day it started vibrating and had very little power. I also had to run it at high speed or it would stall which made for a great docking experience. Now if this was my lawnmower I would expect it to be a bad plug which would be about $2 to replace. I replace both plugs, the problem was still there. I pulled one spark plug wire, the problem was still there. I put it back and pulled the other one. The motor wouldn't start. Turned out there was no compression in one of the cylinders. Since the easy fix was out the window and with only 4 weeks left in the sailing season I was not going to try and rebuild the motor. B.O.A.T. Break Out Another Thousand (or two!). I was luck and Gowen Marine had a Honda 5hp 4-stroke long shaft in stock so I was back in action!
Various pictures from various sails:
One of the highlights of the sailing season was going to see the Queen Mary II when it came to Portland. I took my two younger daughters and their friends out for a short sail. It was blowing about 15-20kts with higher gust and the seas were 3-4 ft in the harbor. We went under working jib only and got up to about 7kts. The traffic was quite heavy because everybody who owned a boat was out looking at the QM2. We couldn't get too close to the ship because there was a keep out zone. Listening in on channel 16 we heard and saw one sailboat being escorted to the Coast Guard's headquarters for being too close. We kept our distance and the trip short because the wind was increasing.
Another great treat was seeing the barquentine "Eagle". It was really cool to be in the sailboat and be able to get pretty close. It's amazing, living on the Maine coast for as long as I have and seeing it all anew from the boat view. I love it!
As I sailed around this summer I took a lot of pictures of other boats and sailboats that I met along the way. We do the obligatory "boaters wave" and keep going. I was out once and spied a sailboat way off in the distance that looked like it might be another T22! I gave chase but didn't do too well. It was time to go home and I noticed the other T22 was dropping sails and motoring over to me so I did the same. It was Bill and his daughter on "Marley" (hull 575). We stopped and chatted for a bit but I was just so excited to meet another Tanzer owner. He was a great guy and I am looking forward meeting him again. I would love to revive Fleet 31 for some fun cruising and maybe even racing!
I did most of my sailing solo this summer because I am not yet "plugged in" to the sailing crowd. Next summer I hope it's different and I would love to crew on other boats to learn more and maybe have someone who knows Tanzers to sail with me and explain/teach me a few things.
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