Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From there to here

I had a Leisure 17 sailboat for several years and a 15ft racer before that. But I did the most traveling in this 17ft tub. I had made many weekend trips where we would moor the boat and camp on the beach in a tent. Very comfortable if I do say so. One day I suggested to my wife that we spend a weekend on the boat. She's a little claustrophobic and this boat served to cure it or drive her into an institution. She agreed to at least try it and my daughter was up for the trip. Not having enough on board we brought my nephew along as well. With all the gear, the boat was full. He thought it was the greatest thing, the idea of sleeping on a boat.
We set sail in the late afternoon and headed for the cove of choice. The sun was shining but lingering clouds were around and a steadily increasing wind was blowing across the bay. On a single tack we were well out the bay and nearing the point to tack into the next harbor. The wind was steady, but the ocean swell gave good indication of the high winds further out. My small crew broke out the Gravol and passed them around like candy. I am not prone to sea sickness and know how to mostly keep it at bay. However my family and nephew were well and drugged for coping with the sea. (yes there's children's Gravol) My nephew was loving the high seas by now and white caps were forming. The rest of the crew however looked a little concerned. Warning bells rang in my head.
I spotted the cove that we were supposed to settle into for the evening, but as I approached it became apparent that the wind was right into the cove. I did my best do maneuver in, drop sails and set anchor, but my wife was figuring like myself that this wind would get stronger before it lessened. She wanted to go ashore to spend the night and so did my daughter. She was right (always is) and I set them all ashore with gear in tow. As they set up camp, I wrestled with the boat in the now rough surf.
A note about the leisure 17. It's a bilge keel boat. Two short keels that come off the bottom of the boat allowing for more beaching ability.
I only had one anchor and the wind combined with waves pushed my boat all over the cove. This wasn't working. I have to swallow pride and admit that I couldn't properly moor the boat here. We'd have to find safer anchorage. I told everyone my plan to head deeper into the bay and find a more suitable cove. They packed their gear and came to the shore line. I used the motor to maintain some distance so I wouldn't completly go aground. The wave action really moved the boat around now as everyone was trying to load gear aboard. One by one they jumped aboard. My wife was last. As the boat tossed about, she made an attempt to climb onto the front of the boat. The next wave hoisted her right off her feet as she held onto the forward rail. With that motion, off came her sandal. She cried out in vain as her sandal was swept away. She lost concentration and grip and now hung mostly over the side of the boat. I doing my best maintaining position looked perplexed when she started to laugh. She called for my daughter and nephew to help her aboard. The did their best but in the swell, the two kids were not able to do anything other than laugh at her. The more she tried to climb aboard the more she failed and laughed harder. I was a little in the dark on some apparent joke and shouted for her to stop fooling around and climb aboard already. She barely could muster "I can't! I can't stop laughing"
I finally ran the boat into the beach with a crunch of twin keels and she managed to get a foot on the bottom to push herself up. As soon as she was on board, I gunned the motor in reverse and away from the beach. She came to the cockpit exhausted and still laughing, explaining how she couldn't stop laughing after she lost her sandal. I had no response.
I set sails with the main reefed, storm sail set and headed deeper into the bay. The next cove served no better, and though it wasn't in the forecast, the winds were now out of my comfort zone with family on board. (my guess well over 30 knots) I told everyone that were heading for the nearest town and mooring to the wharf. It was a short but interesting sail in the long channel with the ocean swell following the whole way. We finally got to the town wharf dropped sails and tied up for the evening. We all settled down to a large supper of cooked noodles, Beans and bacon, with a fine spot of tea to chase. We spent the evening playing kids card games by lamp light. The sleep never went so easy. I apparently snore... alot. and I awoke in the morning to some unhappy crew, if we were at sea my guess is that there would have been a mutiny. The wind had died and the sun was shining as if nothing had happened. I did my best to make it up to them, made a large breakfast cleaned up and took the kids up into the village to the general store for treats. We all settled back into the boat and packed things away for the voyage out. As we sailed along we mused on the cramped conditions in this 17ft tub and that it certainly was tight for 4 people, and if it were all adults, simply too cramped. The location of the head cover made rolling over a pain as ones hip would strike the edge. As we completed out weekend journey we figured this boat would not serve our purpose well as a sleep aboard and the bilge keels made launching very difficult with a simple car and trailer affair. We would have to find something else that suited our needs for adventuring and thrift. When fall arrived, we sold the little boat and oddly enough my wife seemed more upset than me. She looked at me waiting for a tear or some sign of distress and asked if I felt sad.... I said nothing at first, I had something brewing in my skull, I tried to muster a fake tear... nothing, "A Little" I said, paused for effect. Now, when was I to tell her I was going to build my own sailboat?!

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