Wind: one of nature's little blessings by David Cole.
Why I respect the wind...
It freely provides propulsion to our sail.
It shows itself to us through the little ripples and waves that it creates on the water without fail.
It's there when the sun beats us down.
It flows and blows, cooling us all around.
It never asks anything of us choosing instead to only give.
It moves the air around providing a constant supply of oxygen so that all might live.
It may occasionally whip up a vicious storm in its fury...but it also will push it by in a hurry.
Without it the world would surely come to her end. And that my friend is why I respect the wind.
Unexpectedly our plans fell by the wayside on Saturday and thus we found ourselves free to head to the harbor for a little stroll on the lake. On the way I put the last minute feelers out to see if anyone wanted to join us and as I suspected everyone already had plans. As a bit of a surprise though, Holly and Ryan who were on their way to a Cubs game decided to skip it and head to the dock to meet us.
Brodi and I rushed to prepare. Stopping at the store for some last minute provisions and quickly tossing off the mooring lines to make it to the pump-out dock in the allotted time. Oops, in our rush we forgot to prep the dingy and it still hung from our davits (a little too low - dragging in our wake)
. I managed to raise it while underway with one of the winches, so that it still hung from the davits, but wasn't touching the water. Stressed from the rush, Brodi and I were both a bit on edge and thus weren't completely on the same page with how we going to do the docking procedure. Instead of figuring out a plan together and enacting it, I made the mistake of decreeing what should happen and how. Brodi did exactly as I asked and made a beeline for the dock, coming at it in a perfectly perpendicular fashion. I noticed that we were coming in too fast and yelled it back to her to throw it in reverse, but instead of waiting or having her pull off for a second attempt, I jumped off onto the dock with the midship dockline in hand. I lashed the boat down quick and tight as I watched in shock as the bow suddenly started rushing toward the dock pivoting on the axis that I just created. I froze not knowing what to do except to yell to Brodi to straighten it out and keep it in reverse (I had to look like a mad man)
. Thankfully, three other sailors jumped from their boat on the other side of the dock and rushed to the rescue. As the bow careened toward the dock they seemingly flew into action. I only saw them doing their best to push her away from the dock and one leapt aboard the bow grabbed the bow dockline and lashed it down. I ran to the stern and had Brodi toss me the dockline there and although she wasn't happy with me she never let it interfere with the full docking procedure (such a professional)
After I was comfortable that Passage was safe and secure, I wandered over to the other sailors to express my gratitude and explained to them that this was only our third ever docking procedure (and first time solo)
. They were totally understanding and explained that everyone has learning pains, but I couldn't help but feel that I was just making excuses.
Back on board Passage, Brodi and I had work to do before our guests arrived. The dingy needed to be drained from all the rainfall from the night prior's record breaking storm and our dragging her through the harbor. Then we headed below deck for a heart to heart and to eat before our guests arrived. After I finished a single hot-wing I heard familiar voices and Lucky started barking to our guests asking for permission to board. As I explained my botched docking experience to Ryan, I couldn't help but think of something that Brodi always likes to say..."schedules sink ships". If we hadn't been in a rush to be meet a timeline we might have thought things through before and headed over slowly (not distracted by the dingy dragging in the water)
and done things correctly. But alas this is how knowledge is obtained - through trial and error.
Ryan assisted me with brute strength in finishing the raising up & flipping of the dingy over to drain. He then commented to me that we would be better off towing it behind us if it is coming with us on the sail today because it was swaying quite a bit on the davits. So, we decided to lower it into a towing position as soon as we cleared the harbor. Holly chose this moment to go grab us some ice from the harbor master's office so I scarfed down the other four wings I had and prepped for our departure.
I really wanted to leave the dock fast and get on with the day's adventure as I felt that would enable me to put the incident behind me and start over fresh. No sooner than Holly arrived than the three of us hopped onto the dock to walk the ship back a bit in order for Brodi to have room enough to maneuver. Brodi stated that she wanted me (at the stern)
to be the last to board and make sure that she was pushed off of the dock. So, I tossed her the dock line and had to free the dingy from under the dock where it was catching and before I knew it the boat was getting pretty far off the dock. I leapt and one foot cleared the lifeline while the other landed on top of it (thankfully nobody had secured it from when I lowered it for Holly to board)
and it gave way and didn't trip me up.
Looking back, I was soo excited about finally being able to get out on the water again & have Ryan's experience to learn from that I wasn't thinking 100% clearly up to this point. Now that we were getting out on the water my mind was clearing and reality was setting in. Holly quickly hoisted the mizzen and then she and I guided the Main while Ryan hoisted it up the mast. A little while after Ryan and I lowered and secured the dingy in our wake, Brodi suggested raising the Genoa. But prior to that we saw something floating in the distance and Brodi wanted to see if it might be a lost fender we could pick up. As it turned out it was a tree trunk (or a big part of one)
bobbing in and out of the water vertically (looking like a bumper from a distance)
. We quickly veered away and rose the headsail.
The whole time I was focused on what Ryan was saying & showing. From how to lash the lines to how to trim the sail, he was full of information that I was lapping up. Some of it was different from how I had learned, while other tidbits reminded me of what I picked up on the fly with my dad. Ryan was so open and kept reminding me that he didn't want to take over, but that he was just giving suggestions. I let him know that I wanted to be a sponge and that I don't have that captain Ahab ego yet, so he should feel free and keep teaching if he so desired.
I left him up on the foredeck with Holly (he was teaching her to tie a bowline knot)
and returned to Brodi at the helm. She wanted to join us and asked me to take over, but instead I decided to test out the autopilot again. I went below deck pulled it out and brought it up, connected it, and wouldn't you know it - the thing worked like a charm this time! Sails trim and full, autopilot on course, Brodi and I both were able to head to the foredeck to spend time with our guests. Brodi joined Holly in learning knots from Ryan while I went below to get my guitar. I sat on the bow with my back to the roller-fuller and tried to play a few chords (apologizing to everyone when I hit a note out of key)
. For awhile we all just relaxed.
The whole day we kept seeing the occasional tree, branch, and other foreign obstacle to avoid. At one point after coming about we watched a rouge ripple come at us from the coast. It was the strangest thing to see a wave (about 2 or 3 feet when it reached us)
all alone, going the wrong direction. We figured it must have been caused by the rocks that the city was dumping to make a wall on the shoreline. Brodi adjusted us so that when it hit we barely noticed it, riding its trough and not breaching it. At this point we noticed a severe drop in the wind and we were bobbing along at 0.8 knots. Ryan showed us how to see the wind on the water (the term actually has meaning)
and we turned on the motor (cheating, I know)
and headed out to where there was wind. We soon cut the engine again and were clicking along at a steady pace.
Ryan and Holly informed us that they needed to go to a birthday bash and so we started our journey back to the harbor. When we got close we again saw trees floating sporadically in the water so everyone stood watch so that Brodi could steer us away from them. It was amazing and nerve racking to see so big of obstacles floating where we are so use to just sailing along, but it helped us to realize why you need human eyes on the water when sailing and not just radar or other instruments that might/would miss this type of hazard. When we got to the harbor mouth Ryan had Brodi get into a holding pattern of sorts while we pulled down and layered the sails. We then motored into the harbor. Ryan and Holly did the honors of catching the mooring for us. Then the three of us (while Brodi cleaned up the boat)
jumped in for a cool down swim. Holly and I swung in using the spinnaker Halyard as a rope swing and then Ryan joined us a bit later. Reluctantly we stopped swimming, changed, helped Brodi with the cleaning and called the tender for a pickup.
Another wonderful day of sailing over we had to go home to do some chores and let Brodi get some rest for her flight the next day. All I can think though is that soon, we won't ever have to leave Passage, and that our only concerns will be regarding her and each other. That my friends will be the day we are ready to depart for our new lives at sea.