Yachties

Just a few boat notes:

Careening the boat

When you need to access the bottom of the boat – as I needed to to change out a faulty depth sounder – you can haul it, but that’s expensive, so I careened it: brought it up beside the pier near the shore at high tide, and tied it in.  As the tide went out, she settled onto her keel.  I tied her in with many lines – it looked like a spider web or a Jacob’s Ladder between the rail and the pier- you sure as hell don’t want it falling outward. The boat could also fall on its nose (bow) in this situation, but mine stayed poised on the forward part of the keel.

Once the tide went beyond the transducer, I stood in my boots and went to work.  It’s an odd feeling to be looking down through a 2″ hole in your hull knowing the tide has turned and is flowing in inexorably.  I needed help, and got it from a neighbor more versed in marine carpentry (I don’t have the decisive surgical confidence to slice into my boat), but we got the new sounder in and sealed before the water once more enveloped the hull and set her free.  As evening fell, the 12-hr cycle was up and I eased her backward off the pier and back onto the mooring.  The way I traverse the edge with this boat, I need a reliable reading of the depth.

Going ashore

Thus equipped, I went out in the rain and wind (the choice this June is rain and wind, or rain without wind) with a friend not so versed in sailing.  We raced downriver to the sea – out the river in less than an hour.  We turned and beat up the Thread of Life against both the wind and tide in a quartering sea.  The wind funneled down the thin passage, working up spume and froth. I was doing pretty well for such adverse conditions, doing smart short tacks and working our way up slowly.

But on one tack, I didn’t bring her around smartly enough, and we were caught in irons (stopped dead, into the wind, with the sails flapping like flags).  The boat fell off toward the shore.  I tried one tactic of turning downwind (Tycha will turn on a dime sometimes) but the wind was too strong and the space too small, and you have that realization that slows everything down: It’s unavoidable; I’m going up on the rocks.

I let everything go and turned upwind, and the bow nosed in amongst the ledges, finding so much kelp that we hardly felt the bump.  The stern swung in, enough so that I could back the jib.  She filled away, and we sailed off the rocks without even turning on the engine or having panic anywhere other than the pit of my stomach.  I don’t think my mate even knew how much danger we were in, or what a close call it was: we could have been held there by all that wind, and the hull cracked by the waves on the rocks within a half an hour.  I was chastened, and turned tail back down the passage to try again another day.

Rescue

A lobsterman came up to the pier as I sat on the end on my cell phone, telling me that one of the cove’s sailboats was drifting off downriver.  My own sailboat is the only reliable engine I have, so I jumped aboard and headed out after this sweet little wooden day-sailer.  By the time I caught up with it, the mooring had caught again, but the boat was only feet from some ledges at the north end of an island.  The rain is still here, and the north wind that plucked up the (too small) mooring was still with us.

I brought my boat up to windward of the little one and anchored it, letting out the anchor line to come down as close to the adrift boat as I dared.  But a strong tide was running, so I was still too far to get a line from my boat (which requires 6′) to the day-sailer (which was in 2′, but happy enough for the moment).  I pulled up my anchor, repositioned myself, and set it again, this time as I let out more anchor road, my stern came back in line with the little one’s bow.

Now comes the tricky part: I spliced together several docking lines and, tying one end off, rowed back (correction: steered back – the wind was howling by now and blew me backward on tis own) to the little boat, took off the buoy and line to the anchor (the owner can fetch it later) and bent on my docking line on his cleat.  I raced back up the wind in my dinghy, because the day-sailer was now free to go backward toward the rocks.  Leaping aboard, I yanked in the docking line so that he was off the rocks.

I then started pulling in my anchor line, and this is another tricky moment, as there is a period when the anchor is no longer hooked to the bottom, but not yet aboard either, and during this time the wind was pushing me (and him) back into the ledges of the island.  But I got the anchor back in place and secure, and then ran for the wheel to get her out of there.  The last part was easy-peasy, towing it the mile back upriver to a free mooring at our place.  Now comes the hard part: dealing with the owner.

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