A Very Quiet Day For a Sail

On Monday, July 27, 2009, the sailing vessel Alistego finally

got a new log book entry after too long a time.

The weather for the day was for 25 degrees C, light wind in the

AM with winds of 20 kph with higher gusts expected for the

afternoon. So in our typical fashion we decided that it looked

like a good day for sailing. It seems that most days that we go

sailing we get a rousing bit of weather. Our last sail ended

with gusts of 30 kts, short but steep waves of 2 m or so and one

sea sick crew member. Even while motoring downwind to the

marina, we had waves managing to flood the decks and spray into

our faces.

So we got to the marina early (for us) at around 10 AM. Almost

immediately a local sailor came over for a look and a chat and

he told us that on Sunday the winds and waves were both large

and he just managed to get his sails down before the really

rough stuff hit just as he managed to escape to the marina.

Getting a little nervous now, we had her rigged in a little more

than an hour which was not too bad considering we were quite


Finally into the water, armed all bilge pumps, check for leaks,

none, start the engine and let it warm up a little. Our marina

is populated with a large number of large and expensive

powerboats and we have to creep along rather close to them to

get out of the marina, so every departure sounds like a pilot

briefing before takeoff. "OK, so if the engine fails, I'll try

to make the fuel dock, if we drift into any gold-platers, try to

fend off, otherwise keep an eye out for traffic." On this day

everything went according to plan and we were thankfully alone

in the lake.

So, out we motored into the lake looking for the wind. Once the

mizzen was up, the engine was shut down and Alistego slowly

turned into the wind. Up through the fore hatch, hook the jib

onto the traveller, run it out, halyard on, and sheets fastened,

so we're good in that department. Now for the mainsail. Halyards

ready, both together, and up she goes, sets nicely. Back to the

cockpit and let's get sailing.

With all possible sail area up we began to move through the

water at a nice pace and feeling quite smug about all the sight

seers passing nearby very slowly to get a good look at us.

Almost noon, so when will the blow hit? I nervously look at all

that sail and mentally calculate how fast we can reef the main,

douse the mizzen, and switch to the smaller jib when the time

came. Look back up at the main, what the he**? None, I mean none

of the luff was attached to the mast in any way shape or form!

Up front again, lower the sail and this time fix the parrel

beads and their lanyards into place. Up goes the sail again and

we're good to go again.

We sailed out into the lake a good long ways doing an estimated

2-3 kts, maybe 4 in the gusts, until we figured we were half way

done sailing for the day and turned around. I was wanting to be

very precise and technical in our handling of the boat so all

tacks followed the same procedure. The mizzen is uncleated

first, next the tiller goes over, while the main is allowed to

swing across the boat. The jib is not touched until it is

backwinded and helping the bow around through the wind. Once

we've made the tack the jib and main are set and finally the

mizzen adjusted. This worked every time even when we had barely

any headway. The sail back to the marina was relaxing to the

extreme, but I was still expecting the wind to develop with

large waves right behind it. It's usually about this point in

our sailing that all heck breaks out. But on this day it was not

to be. We enjoyed the sunshine and views and too soon the marina

was clearly visible in front of our bows.

So off with all sheets except for the mizzen and while she stood

head into the wind, we pulled down Alistego's sails one by one

until there was only the mizzen left and it came down and furled

quietly, as there was no wind left at all. A couple of pulls on

the motor and she came to life and soon we were creeping through

the forest of powerboats having to brake suddenly when a boat

leaving the marina slowed down to look us over while

inadvertently blocking our path back to the ramp! We eventually

managed to make our turn and quickly had the trailer back on the

ramp and the boat lined up on the trailer and "clang"! It seems

the bilge boards were still down and struck the trailer frame as

we approached the ramp. Oh well, live and learn.

Once again ready for the road we drove through town to grab a

bite to eat while everyone turned their heads while we passed

by. Eating and looking out the window I watched as car after car

slowed to look at Alistego. I couldn't help but think," Yup, the

girl still has it, she's one fine looker!"

Dale Hymanyk 2018