Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kelly's Island run

One Saturday morning I awoke early to a rising sun and no cloud. I could not let it go to waste. Our summer conditions here in Newfoundland are short and it's now in its final warm days. Night time temperatures are now dipping to only +7 degrees C. It was only 8am when I called my friend Travor "Were going sailing" He responds "Give me 45 minutes". I speed pack a bag with water, canned stew, teabags, sugar, milk and all the essentials for a day on the water. I slapped some butter on bread and unceremoniously dumped that in the bag as well. I stole one of the "good" frying pans from the cupboard and tucked it away. I had no time to find the camping stuff so the kitchen utensils would do, If I loose anything, I'm dead. The safety gear has been left in the covered boat so all was needed was the food and such. A quick inspection of the trailer and off I went. Today's destination was Kelly's Island, a small uninhabited island that lies just off the coast. Travor met me at the Foxtrap marina not far from the island and we set to putting up the mast and rigging. With a few trips under my belt now each setup takes a bit less time. The biggest hindrance are the strangers who come around for a chat and ask where I got the boat and all that. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare for launch and with a quick shove Pikake was floating and ready. The bay was flat when I was driving to the marina, but by the time we launched the winds had picked up to a respectable 15 knots. With Travors son along for the day I reefed the sails knowing he was a little timid of sailing, and the fact that as the day wore on the winds would only get stronger. It was a simple single tack to Kelly's Island and the winds out of the north east, in winter that meant a blizzard, but today it just gave us a strong cool breeze. Kelly's Island is mostly cliffs and steep bluffs with very little shoreline, but there are a couple of spots suitable for landing a boat. With the wind in the direction it was, we couldn't land at a cove frequented by boaters, and the winds now kicked up a swell with breakers on the beach areas on the north east side. With the sun beating down we sailed around the island taking pictures and marveling at he cliffs. It's the closest I have been to this island and it's much higher than I had thought it to be. The rock was also loose so we didn't venture too close, we could hear rocks fall every once in a while. The south side of the island had a suitable beach to put our gear ashore, I dropped sails and started up the motor. The winds in this area were light and almost still near the beach. Travor went forward and brought the anchor to the rear, I prepared it while he took out the forward line that would go to the beach. Not wanting to get his feet wet I ran aground and he hopped out. He held the boat steady as his son put all the gear ashore. I then reversed the boat and set the mooring anchor. A following sea prevented us from landing and beaching properly, and the rocks would not be kind to my new hull. Once I got ashore I found a big enough rock and tied the boat to it. It would do well enough for the afternoon. The stove was set up and A quick lunch of stew and fresh bread was chased down with a cup of coffee that Trav had made for the trip. (He's the coffee maker and always has a thermal bottle of the good stuff) Lunch done we just had to explore this island. Travor found a rope that lead to the top of the bluff, it was old but strong, and the slope at this point was not hard to climb. I even managed to take my cup of coffee with me. We explored, took pictures, and chatted about if anyone had once lived here. It was certainly big enough, but we didn't see any fresh water so that would pose a problem for any settlers many years ago. There was an abandoned camp site from where some campers had been earlier the summer and ready for new residents. With exploring done, we headed back to the beach and packed up our things for an afternoon of sailing. The winds were now strong and gusting at times to 25 knots, but with sails reefed and our weight aboard, we were hardly listing. The pictures seem to make a Lier out of me in that they seem to show a nice calm sea state. Close hauled she sliced through the waves, and broke over the top of many. On the broad reach and running reach we managed to surf a couple of waves, now this is sailing. Travor's GPS was clocking us at 6.2 knots and an average of over 5.6 and we figured that was pretty good, not like we were racing. The whole afternoon was spent tacking up the bay, cutting across and then running with the wind, just fooling around. All within sight of 3 yacht clubs with about 60 sailboats and twice as many motor cruisers. We were one of only 4 hulls on the bay and the only boat with sails up. Sebastian (Travors son) asked why they had their sails down, "I guess it's too windy" was my reply. He looked at me oddly then smiled. We sailed, snacked, drank coffee from the thermos and chatted our day away under a September sun. The haul out location was at the public launch at the Newfoundland yacht club. A steep yet poorly maintained launch way, I nearly got stuck pulling the boat out. We left the marina (yearly dock fee's in excess of $2000) satisfied that we rung every moment out of the day and hoped that the rest of our future sailings would be half as good as today's.
(My thanks to Travor and Sabastian for the photos)

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