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27 August 2019

New Year's Day Sail

01 January 2019
I like sailing on the first day of a year because it seems a great way to start the year off. It's easier said than done to go sailing on Jan 1, in the Northern Hemisphere, away from the tropics. I've managed to go sailing on New Years day several times in New York, once in Alaska, once in Antarctica, and today, I managed to do it on Lake Ontario.

At the dock, with a stiff wind and temperatures just below freezing, we bent on the jib of my Grampian 26, tying the jib downhaul so the sail would stay down. We carefully put two reefs in the mainsail (easier to do at the dock than underway), then started the motor.

We motored out of the marina, then set the mainsail in Frenchman's Bay, a very small, shallow bay in Pickering, Ontario.

The overnight gale had broken most of the ice in the bay, so most of the bay was open, and we enjoyed sailing in the protected water, close to, and occasionally thru, the ice.

This bay is very shallow, with a soft, mud bottom, so getting near the reeds often results in getting into the mud. In an attempt to sail around a patch of ice, we went aground. I put the outboard motor in the water and tried backing off, with the crew all on one side to lean the boat over. The mainsail helped us lean the boat over, but also seemed to keep pushing us into the shallows, so we lowered it, and then Lee pushed off with one of the oars while I motored us in reverse and we came off after a few minutes, without needing to row out an anchor.

We raised the mainsail and stopped the motor and did some more sailing along the ice edge. After the wind died down a bit, sailed out into Lake Ontario, raised the jib, and revelled in the fresh air on a brisk, sunny day for a few hours, then motored back to the dock.

A great way to start off the new year.

UPDATE: I posted an 8-minute video of the sail on the Schooner Issuma YouTube channel.

Check the video out here:
Vessel Name: Issuma
Vessel Make/Model: Damien II, 15m/50' steel staysail schooner with lifting keel
Extra: Designed for Antarctica. Built in France by META in 1981. Draft 1.3m/4.5' with keel up, 3.2m/10.5' with keel down. More details at
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Survey pictures taken of Shekin V
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Created 29 April 2008