Hukilau Sails the Sound

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The Curious Case of the Wayward Halyard

27 September 2020
Mike Stern
The days are getting short; so short that late afternoon sails are out. This past week, fall weather has been coming on. It's been in the thirties some nights, and in the fifties during the day. But starting on Wednesday, summer seems to be trying to hang on.
The temps went from the 50's to the 70's.

On Saturday (9/26), Patti and I decided that we would have date day/night on the boat as the weather was predicted to be partly cloudy and in the lower 70's.

We made lunch, and brought some reading material, thinking we would sail, then hang out at a mooring before going out to dinner. But politics and a hardware mishap interrupted.

First, when getting ready to leave the dock, we saw a number of power boats of all sizes with multiple Trump flags flying. There was one 50+ footer moving up river, flying at least four Trump flags, blasting music, with four or five women dancing on the foredeck, waving and hooting. Ugh. Patti preps the main by attaching the halyard to the sail, and removing the sail ties.

But we leave the dock (thanks for the help Marsh) and head out for our adventure. It's mostly cloudy with a nice but not too strong breeze. As we get close to the Mermaids, we see that there are about 10 boats on moorings, many rafted together, and yes, all flying Trump flags. Ugh.

Once we get out into the Sound, we go to raise the main. I'm at the helm and Patti is manning the halyard. Except I note that the sail isn't going up. I look through the window in the bimini and see the halyard hanging free about halfway up the mast, swinging around the topping lift and the backstay. Shit.

I try to reach the loose shackle with the boat hook, but I'm nowhere close. We have to go back to the dock. Patti feels terrible; she's sure she fastened it correctly.

We get back to the dock where my efforts to grab the halyard provide entertainment for many. I quickly figure out that the big boat hook isn't long enough, so I duct tape the shorter boat hook to the longer one. Oh so close! The Wind Song sailors offer their bosun's chair, but that's my only halyard, and I'm not going up there myself anyway. Patti suggests that we call the B&J folks, but I know they aren't going to come out right away anyway, so we keep on trying. Wind Song's neighbors offer to bring over their boat hook too so we can get even higher. In the meantime, I fashion a loop out of duct tape and try to snag the shackle with that. I grab it momentarily twice, but it doesn't hold.

Ted and Ed (I think) come over and we tape their long boat hook to my two. I still can't reach, but Ed (or was it Ted) who is taller comes aboard and is able to grab the halyard itself from higher up. Within a minute, I have the halyard untangled from the backstay and attached to the mainsail. Three cheers for Ed and Ted.

We're back out in a trice, this time raising the sails without a problem. I put a reef in the main as Patti was a bit nervous, but she realized it was no big deal, and we shook out the reef within a few minutes. Note to self: the line reefing line keeps getting hung up in the boom; work on that.

We set a course of south, put on the auto pilot, pull out the table and have lunch finally. It was a bit cloudy, but the winds were nice (about 10 knots), seas flat, and it was fairly warm. We agreed it was a beautiful sail. When the sun went behind the sails, it got a little cool Patti brought out her sweatshirt, and I put on my jacket.

We wound up somewhere off of East Haven and decided to head back. Winds were from a little south of east, so we had to tack back. Because we thought the Trumpies were probably still in the harbor, we decided to go back to the dock instead of picking up a mooring. I also wanted to stop at the fuel dock to make sure we had a full tank for the off season. This was my first trip to the fuel dock this year. According to the gauge, I had about half a tank.

The dock was open and empty, so docking was easy. I filled her up; the auto shut off worked, but got some overflow out of the tank vent, spilling a little fuel over the transom. Then back to the dock where we put the boat to rights and relaxed a bit before heading over the Nellie Green's for dinner.

I have the paperwork for winter storage to fill out; I think I'm going to have the yard remove the batteries and winterize the boat. On the plus side, the aft cabin leak has stopped; as before, it seems that when water gets in through the cockpit locker, it must pool up somewhere and needs to dry out before it will stop. And the area under the raw water strainer is dry too. So I think we're mostly ready for the year to end.
Vessel Name: Hukilau
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 28
Hailing Port: Branford, Conn.
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