Hukilau Sails the Sound

Great Sail, 2nd Worst Docking - Last time this season

06 October 2019
Mike Stern
With our upcoming trip to France, I've decided to have the yard haul the boat the week of Oct 14. Which means that this weekend was really my last chance for a sail.

Patti went to NYC to see the kids, so it was just me. I invited Scott and George; sort of symmetrical, right? First and last sail of 2019. Scott couldn't make it, but George could. George's plan was to sleep on the boat after our day, but his wife "convinced" him to stay at Blackacre instead. Given how cool it was last night, that was a good thing.

Before George arrived (he was about an hour late), I took the time to take down the Bimini as I knew it needed some repair. I wound up ripping it some more, so now it really needs fixing.

Our undocking was easy. George pushed us off, and we back out to the right like champs. We raised sail in the harbor, and had to tack about 4 times before we could get out past the islands. We then headed a little east of south. The weather was a perfect fall day: sunny, light winds, low 60's or upper 50's. Winds were light, but they occasionally filled in to about 10 knots, giving us a nice ride.

The sail was great; the winds could have been a little stronger or consistent, but we never slipped below 3 knots for very long, and occasionally hit 6 or more. George was very impressed with how well Hukilau handled light air. And it was a revelation to sail with someone who know what to do when I say "I think we should haul the traveler to windward".

On and on we went; after about three hours (and a turkey club grinder and chips), we decided we should get back so we would have daylight to take down the sails. During the sail south, I watched the GPS, and was surprised to see that I had sailed that far already this season, at least twice. But soon, I could see the tracks of the two earlier trips and ended with a course reversal; very soon, our current track passed the two earlier trips. Furthest sail this year! The sail back seemed to take a lot less time, but we soon made the harbor where we struck the sails and headed back in.

I had a list of things I had to do on this last sail, among them: fill the fuel tank, empty the waste tank, empty the water tank, measure the battens, etc. As we were leaving the marina to go out, I mentioned the fuel dock to George, but said we'll get it when we come back. So on the way back, I wanted to stop, but the dock was closed. I then remembered I think the dock closes at 3 after Labor Day. Ugh. Oh well, I can use my tote to fill it up later.

But I did want to empty the waste tank. Earlier, I had scoped out the location of the marina's pump out facility, and I headed there. According to my Garmin, we were travelling over a field, but since we were right by the biggest boats (dock AA) at the marina, I knew we'd be ok. I found the pump out dock, and with little drama, made it there. Just as we were tying up, the Pump Out Boat pulled up next to us. I had assumed they weren't working anymore, but obviously I was wrong. The pump out boat guy quickly offered to take care of it for us, and I was happy to have him do it. I didn't think there'd be much in there, but there was more than I thought. Including something brown. That must be old....

We were soon on our way to the dock, where I was confident to the point I wasn't really thinking much about any potential problems. But George didn't position himself on the outside of the shrouds at the widest part of the boat; he stayed near the cockpit, so he couldn't jump off. That's when things went south. I had to back out and I didn't do that well. We had to fend off Roger's Catalina 30, then when I pushed us back in, the bow hit the post holding the hose. That knocked my anchor off the pulpit, send it and most of my chain into the water. I now couldn't back out much to try again as i was afraid the anchor would snag. We did get close enough for George and I to get off on the next try, and tied up. Strangely, I didn't feel too bad about it as there was no damage and no one to see (at least, I think).

At that point, I ran the sinks until the water tank went dry, and did the rest of the stuff on my list. Of course, George was an enormous help getting the sails off. We stuffed them into the bags, then folded them in the parking lot. We were then off to Home for dinner, then back to Blackacre.

I happily call this season a rousing success. Patti took lessons, I learned to handle this boat, and we went out a good number of times. I still really want to overnight on Hukilau; that's what she's made for, and that's what is going to happen. At some point. And I still want to solo. Gonna happen.

I am so glad I bought this boat. It gives me great pleasure.

I would still like to make another trip to the boat before she is wrapped up. I want to get the manuals off, and do a couple of other very minor things.

What a season!

A Great Sail with a Long-Anticipated Ending

01 October 2019
Mike Stern
On Saturday, we had unseasonably warm weather. Patti and I had planned to go for a sail - possibly one of the last of the season - but her work has recently overwhelmed her, and she had to get some stuff done.

Nevertheless, I didn't want to waste an opportunity, so I asked if David and Diane wanted to come out. They did, but couldn't make it until about 4 pm. So I went to the boat early, so I could pick up the toppling lift shackle (with the missing clevis pin) and get a replacement at West Marine.

I used my "surprise" gift card (I had found an old gift card in my dresser, and found that it had over $18 left on it!), and was back at the boat before they arrived.

It was breezy; very breezy. But another sailor had come back to the dock after a sail and said it was much breezier at the dock than out in the Sound. So I didn't really know what to expect.

David and Diane came aboard at around 4, and we quickly left the dock. I noted that it was about an hour until dead low tide according to my tide clock, but the depths on the chartplotter never got too low.

We motored out to the Sound, and it became clear that we had a good breeze. Maybe 12-15 knots. We raised sail: a full main and about half the genny. We headed a bit west of south, and took off at 5.5 to 6 knots.

Wow, what a great sail! It was sunny and warm, but not too warm and the wind was great. Seas were a bit rough, with waves maybe two-three feet. But this was just fabulous sailing. We heeled at between 5 and 15 degrees, so I don't think Patti would have loved it, but the three of us were quite comfortable. The O'day would have been a mixmaster in those conditions; the Catalina took it all in stride. What a boat....

We had to turn back relatively quickly as sunset was going to be at 6:35. We did a reciprocal course back. Not quite as fast, but still over 5 knots. On the way back, David got a bit seasick, a first for him in a long time. He held it together though.

According to the tide clock, it was just past low tide, but the depths in the channel were more than adequate. However, when we pulled into the fairway between C and D docks, we slowed greatly. My first thought was that my transmission had gone kerplunk. But I glanced at the depth readout, and it said "0.0", then "0.1". We were aground.... It was bound to happen sooner or later; I've been sailing for long enough. I'm glad it happened so close to the dock.

But by gunning the engine, I was able to push through. We got to the dock, and our neighbors rushed to help David with the lines. We eventually pushed our way to the right position, and tied up. One casualty of the process; the dockside line stand somehow got tangled with a fender, and the top of the pvc pipe thing broke off. Of course, I just threw it away instead of saving it to try and glue it together.

The three of us then drove home, met Patti and went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. What a day!

The end of the season is here. I've sent in my paperwork for the winter with a deposit.

With our approaching trip to France, I've decided that I'll have the marina winterize the boat this year. And I've told them to pull the boat the week of October 14 (we're leaving for France October 18). This means that at best, I'll get one more sail in. Sad, but still, this has been a great summer.

Bill and Carol

23 September 2019
Mike Stern
On Saturday, Sept 21, Bill and Carol came down from Boston for a long-planned sail. Unbelievable weather for a late September day: sunny and in the low 80's. low humidity.

We could have used a little more wind, but let's not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Patti and I met Bill and Carol at the marina at 1 pm. Our plan was to bring some snacks on board, have a nice sail, then go for an early dinner. But just before we left, we both thought "shouldn't we be providing lunch?". So we stopped at Ray and Mike's and bought a super-size turkey grinder. Nice.

Leaving the dock was text book, and we were soon on our way. We raised sail out in the Sound, with Patti and Bill raising the main, and me rolling out the full Genny. The main still had a reef in from our last couple of sails, and Patti wanted to keep it.

We struck out,, sailing a bit east of south at about 3 knots, in about 6 knots of wind. The breeze was steady, and with the auto pilot, very relaxing. We had some wine and beer, snacks and the grinder. And sailed on. Even Patti agreed that we should shake out the reef, so we did after about a half hour.

Past Branford Reef we went, with Long Island getting clearer on the horizon. After a couple of hours, we decided to turn back. I checked, and we were over 6 miles from the Branford Town Dock, according to the GPS. Our ETA in the dying breeze was calculated to be about 6 pm.

After about an hour of slow sailing (about 2 knots), Patti suggested we start the engine so we could get to Lenny's (our restaurant of choice ) before the big rush.

At 5.5 knots under power, we made short work of the trip back, getting to the dock around 5:30. We hit Lenny's at a good time; it was an hour wait to sit outside (our first choice), but we were seated inside immediately.

We split the coconut shrimp and some cherrystones to start. Really good stuff.

I had an early morning on Sunday (meeting Lily in the city for One Day U.), and Bill and Carol had a long drive back to Boston, so it was an early night.

A great time with some old friends.
Vessel Name: Hukilau
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 28
Hailing Port: Branford, Conn.
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