A Vote For Winter Sailing
21 February 2013
If ever there was an argument for winter sailing, this is it: Winds 12kts out of the south, brilliant sunshine; Aria making 6.5 kts over flat seas; Tom Leonard and I with Long Bay entirely to ourselves; me cooking gumbo in the galley, eaten from my dog bowls and washed down with beer. Wow!
It was just a daysail, out and back. A chance to shake out the sails and sea-trial my alternator repair. We departed at 10:30am. As we left the marina, an ear-splitting alarm sounded. I checked my gauges. They were all reading fine. Tom rushed below to smell for smoke. My heart raced as I considered what needed to be done to quickly drop the anchor and kill the engine. I had a small rock jetty 3 feet off my beam, at that moment. This was happening at a bad time. What could it be? I went over my recent engine repair, and what hose I may have failed to replace. I imagined a bilge filled with coolant. And still the alarm rang. It was deafening. What the heck? Then, incredibly, a voice came over the radio, "This is a test of the emergency weather alert system..."
It was a radio test, and I was on Channel 03!
An hour later we cleared the jetties, raised the sails and killed the engine. We sailed two hours ESE, then turned around. In that time, winds built from 9 kts to 15kts by the time we were back "inside" at 3pm. Forecast was for 5-8kts. This is why I never cancel a sail because of a forecast for light winds.
The new genoa continues to impress me; the boat reaches easily to 45 degrees apparent, even higher if I hand steer, and we're making better than 50% of wind speed. Fast. Meanwnile, the alternator worked perfectly on its new mount.
It's not the Caribbean, but it could not have been a better day if it were.