As I’ve mentioned before, on Wednesday evening I sail on a 30′ Pearson (“Old Shoes”). I spend
most all of my time in the pit cranking on the jib winches. They only let me up on the fore-deck “triangle of awesomeness” when there isn’t anything going on. some day, some day…..
Winds for the race wound up being 18 knots with gusts to 25. (that’s 20 mph with gusts to 28) We started on a starboard beam reach (wind coming from our right) and got across the starting line in last but pretty good position. 3 or 4 other boats went over the starting line too soon and had to do an immediate 360 degree turn as a penalty. Not us, we were good.
Once we rounded the first mark we were going almost dead upwind, so since a boat can’t sail upwind we tacked back and forth. With wind like this each tack is pretty intense.
Captain: “Prepare to Tack”
Crew: Checks sheets (ropes attached to jib (front sail)), wrap twice around the winch – clockwise!. “Ready!”
Crew: wait, wait…there! Wind has crossed over the bow and is now coming from the other side and is pushing the jib over. haul like crazy on the jib sheet so the sail fills with wind and comes taut. Too hard to pull by hand now! throw another wrap or two around the winch! Grab the winch handle, put it in the top of the winch – it locks in so it doesn’t fall overboard. CRANK, CRANK, CRANK!!!
Captain: “Crank Dammit”
( just kidding , he’s great. He really says “Crank!
dammit” (It’s just understood the dammit is there)
Crew: ugh, crank, ugh, crank, (It’s getting a lot harder), ugh, crank… OK, that’s enough.
The wind is blowing so hard sometimes the sheet slips and lets the jib back out a bit and slows us down. That’s my bad. Lesson learned, next time throw a wrap around the cleat too.
One time the sheet gets itself in a bit of a knot so it can’t slip through the block and keeps the jib from going to the other side during a tack. Not really my bad, but on every tack from now on I make sure it is not tangled before the tack.
Waves are pounding , some 3 or 4 feet high. This is a bit unusual because this is the mouth of a river, not the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes the boat smashes straight ahead, most of the time we turn off a bit on the big ones so we don’t lose our momentum. The boat is leaning way over on it’s side, I’m standing up almost straight and my feet are planted on the side of the bench. Waves crash over the bow and splash back to the cockpit. Soaking wet and dripping. Woo Hoo!!!!
We’re on starboard tack (wind coming from right), so we aren’t supposed to have to turn to avoid a collision but another boat on a port tack (wind coming from left) cuts it close in front of us. They are hidden from us by the sail, I look under and …
Crew: HOLY SMOKES THEY’RE CLOSE!.
Skipper: dips down and we miss them.
They know they done wrong and give a little thank you wave for not T-Boning them.
We round the mark and head downwind on a broad reach. Not straight with the wind, but not sideways either. Finally realize we were going for the wrong mark, (P, not G) change course and realize we can put up the spinnaker. Up it goes – whoops, it’s didn’t clear the jib – shake it! shake it! OK, it’s up, wait – it’s in an hourglass shape. Lots more shaking going on. Now it’s full and holy smokes it’s yanking us back and forth, can’t stabilize. Left, Right, Left, BIG Right, whoops we broach! (We turn flat sideways to the wind with the sail pulling us horizontal – we’re about to go over because the pull is too great.
Captain: BLOW IT!
Crew: (Me) : Release the sheet holding in the corner of the spin
Boat: Stands up nicely – what’s the big deal with you people on my deck?
Captain: Put the spinnaker away
Round the mark (we are second to last), but the other boat is lighter and scoots past us.
Crew: Take a selfie!
Cross the finish line with huge smiles on the whole crew. (Except the skipper, he never smiles – just kidding, (no I’m not))
Sooooo much fun! I love sailing in big wind.