Saturday was our second sail of the year, and it was, shall we say, very interesting.
The forecast was 5-10 mph winds with temperatures in the low 50's (12c). Since the winds were forecast to be light, I decided to take Nina, our cocker spaniel, along. Nina loves to sail, although it's been a few years since her last one. Turns out she's lost her sea legs, but more on that later.
We arrived at the Port of Everett ramp around noon. The winds were light, just as forecasted, and the sun was warm in the gentle breeze. I parked a short distance away from a family that was rigging a Macgregor 26. Maybe it's just me, but I still have trouble embracing the concept of having a 60 HP outboard on a sailboat, towing a water skier. To each his own. The owner gave me a thumbs up and a "Nice boat" on his way to the ramp, and I returned the compliment.
We launched Ellie about 45 minutes later, but struck up a long conversation with a very friendly fellow boatbuilder at the dock. He was genuinely impressed with Ellie and had quite a few questions. There could be another Navigator plying the waters of Puget Sound someday soon.
By the time we finally departed I noticed that the wind had picked up. A lot, in fact. Flags were blowing horizontal so it had to be up to 10-15.
We raised all sail and headed south, inside the jetty, towards the sound with Nina on her leash in one hand and the tiller in the other. Nina was excited to be at sea again. She's very curious so she had to explore every square inch of the boat. A couple times she would put her paws on the side decks and I told her to get down. The third time she did, the boat hit a wave, Nina lost her balance, and overboard she went!
Steve, over at Arwen's Meanderings, has recently written several very interesting blogs about safety gear. One of the many items he has written about are life lines. Fortunately for Nina, she essentially had a life line and I was able to use it to reel her back on board. It all happened so fast. I don't think she was in the water more than 10 seconds, but it was frightening to see her being towed through the water at 6 knots until I could grab her. It would have been more frightening had she not had a lifeline. Would I have been able to drop sail, fire up the outboard, and been able to find her? How do lifelines work? If I had one, would I clip myself up near the bow, so I'd function like a sea anchor, or near the stern where I'd probably get towed along like a giant crankbait?
Nina was fine. She was cold and wet, but didn't appear to have inhaled any water. She shivered for a little while but dried out pretty quickly.
By the time we finally got out to Possession sound the wind had really picked up. Whitecaps everywhere and the water was like the inside of a washing machine. This was not in the forecast! I stopped and put in a double reef in the main. We sailed around for a little while. Ellie handled the conditions just fine, but it was too rough to get any videos, I was getting uncomfortable and I was worried about Nina falling in again so we headed back to safety inside jetty island. Conditions there were great. Calm water and loads of wind, so we had a blast sailing back and forth for a couple of hours.
A sailboat race had just finished and the boats were all returning to the Everett marina. Several of them sailed up to us to give us compliments. "Nice boat!" and "What kind of boat is that?". One of the crew members was a fellow I work with, and another fellow invited me to join the dinghy races that they have on Fridays that I didn't know about.
The wind seemed to be calming down so we headed back toward Possession sound again, but kept the double reef in to be safe. Conditions had improved enough so that I could get out the cameras. I attached one to the mizzen mast and filmed a bit with the other. Nina was completely warm and dry by now so we headed out towards Gedney island.
The wind dropped a bit more, and the sky cleared up so we shook out the reefs and sailed on.
By the time we got about halfway to Gedney, the wind completely died! The GPS said we were moving 0.0 knots, occasionally 1.5 knots, with all sails up.
We waited for a while, but still no wind so we dropped all sail, fired up the outboard, and headed back.
It was a very interesting day, indeed.