|SAILING LOGS :: EQUIPMENT AND STORAGE :: MISCELLANY|
After a couple lousy, rainy, cold days (high temp of only 52...that's cold!), today dawned still overcast, but with a forecast for partial clearing and more normal temperatures later in the day. It looked like it would be a short-lived reprieve from the nasty, however, as the weekend forecast was for more wind, rain, and chilly temperatures. Needless to say, I knew that if I hoped to do any more sailing before sometime next week, I'd better get out today. Around 1030 the sun began to peek through the clouds, so I abandoned what I was doing and headed for the boat.
To see the route I took duplicated on a chart of the area, please click here. (PDF File)
As I stepped off the launch onto Glissando about 30 minutes later, the sun really began to break through, so it looked like I had gotten my timing just right. The breeze was light out of the southeast, and the temperature was warm enough for shorts and, for the moment, a T shirt with flannel shirt over. I raised the main at the mooring and sailed away, then took a nice, slow sail north through the anchorage at a leisurely and very relaxing 2 knots. I ducked in close to shore to look at some boats, and then at the northerly extreme of the anchorage, between Sturdivant Island and the mainland, I unrolled the genoa and continued downwind beyond the anchorage. It's always fun to sail between Sturdivant and the mainland, but too often the wind is a fluky disaster in there, and it takes the right wind direction to make it enjoyable. Today was it. There are a few huge, expensive, "look at me" houses that have gone up recently along the shore here, taking advantage of the view of the lovely Wyman power plant on Cousin's Island and driving up their neighbors' property values (and taxes). But I digress.
The wind strengthened a bit by the time I reached the northern end of Sturdivant Island, and I rounded the corner, leaving plenty of room to account for the long sandbar that extends out, and sailed towards Chebeague Island on a tight beat. I had to take one tack up in order to clear the point at Cousin's Island, but what a nice sail! I sailed up as far as I could go next to Chebeague before tacking onto port tack and a southerly heading roughly towards Cow Island and Portland Harbor. I continued on this tack for a long time--the wind direction was perfect--with the breeze holding steady at about 15 knots--just enough so that it was almost time for a reef (and I would have if the wind had increased any more), but not quite enough to ever bury, or even dip, the rail. Nice! We were averaging between 5.3 and 6 knots most of the way, and there was just a bit of minor salt spray on the foredeck.
As I neared Cow Island, I began to crack off just a bit to sail past the buoys that must be observed and head a little more towards Portland. At this point, the fun really began--cracking off sheets is one of the best things! The boat accelerated while maintaining the general 20-degree angle of heel, and we (Glissando and I, that is) smoked our way towards Portland--a most exhilarating sail. Good for the soul. (By the way...snapping this photo, way down on the leeward side, while trying to maintain balance and hold the heavily-pressured tiller at the same time, was an interesting experience! It looks docile enough, but remember that the boat is heeled over 25 degrees, so it's quite a climb back up!) Along the way, a couple sailboats passed me going the other direction (downwind) UNDER POWER with no sails set. Huh??????? Why not just admit defeat and buy a Bayliner? Geez...if you didn't sail downwind on this sort of day, what kind of conditions would you be waiting for? I did get jealous looks from one of the boats as they puff-puffed by.
Nearing Portland, and the Eastern Promenade (what a silly name), I finally tacked about 3/4 mile short of the beach and turned around to head back to Falmouth and my mooring. Just behind was Fort Gorges, looking pretty today with the sun shining off its mossy green roof and sparkling off the blue water. I cracked off and on the return course home, the boat ended up on a broad reach of about 120 degrees apparent...perfect. It seems I always spend 75% of every daysail working my way up to windward so I can have that reward downwind reach/run home at the end...and too soon, the relaxing offwind sail is over. Sigh. I wanted to just keep on going in this direction forever.
Back in Falmouth, I fretted for a time whether or not I should pick up the mooring under sail. That is generally my preference, as I enjoy avoiding use of the engine whenever possible. However, this year one of my mooring neighbors is closer than in the past, and I worried about whether it would be just a bit too close for comfort in case anything went wrong. Judging the wind, though, I decided there was no reason not to sail in...I've done it lots of times.
When the angle was right, I jibed and rolled in the jib (OK, I rolled it in before the jibe), and headed through the outer boats to my mooring. I'm happy to report that I executed an absolutely picture-perfect landing under sail...textbook--well deserved after one semi-disastrous execution back in May. Sailing in on port tack, on a broad reach, I sailed just past the mooring and judged the perfect moment to turn sharply into the wind, dumping the wind from the mainsail. At the same time, I released the vang tension, which sprung the boom into the air, further depowering the sail. At first, I was concerned that I had turned a bit too late, and that the boat was not going to have the momentum to get us to the mooring. But I soon saw that there would be just enough momentum to get us there. The anchor roller kissed the fiberglass pickup buoy, and I ran forward to grab it...just as the boat started to drop straight back away from the mooring. With the line secured, I lowered the mainsail uneventfully. I don't mean to brag, but I was very proud of this landing, and I hoped someone, somewhere, was watching and shared my pleasure.
I spent a leisurely hour putting the boat to bed and taking care of a couple minor projects, like finally installing fairleads on the boom to hold the reefing lines from drooping down all over the place. Reluctantly, I headed ashore, but the memory of this perfect sail shall linger long.