[Public-List] First cruise of the season...

Gordon Laco mainstay at csolve.net
Mon Jun 22 07:20:19 PDT 2020

Hello gang - 

This past weekend SURPRISE did her first cruise of 2020…. we cast off from the club in Midland right after lunch and motored out into the harbour.   Ya, I left the office early, but I had my phone in my pocket so was able to respond to client’s requests, this time without that quizzical ‘Gord, do I hear water in the background?  Are you sailing !?’.

The air was very light and on the nose, so we decided to motor out at least as far as Midland Point and see what was happening there.   We hummed along at 6.4 knots with 1200rpm on the clock, oil pressure high, coolant in the zone, ammeter showing a steady charge.  Motoring in a calm is quite nice when you want to get somewhere… no remorse or embarrassment due to there being no alternative.

Off Midland point there was still no air, so we kept motoring.   Off Rod’s place we saw he hadn’t launched his boat yet, but there he was reading a book on his beach so we swooped in to yell a hello.   Looking forward to seeing you in the water again Rod… I’ve got a good friend in the final stages of buying an Invader 36, full keeled version of your Frigate, and he’s bringing it to Midland.  We’ll have to come by and cast down the gauntlet before you, as in ‘come out and do battle…'

So on down the Sound we motored… a bit of air developed but by now I was looking forward to a cold beer at anchor at Methodist Point, so we kept the mill turning and motored all the way.  Down went the hook (the wind had gone calm again so I was relieved of guilt for motoring).   The still water was crystal clear… every detail of the anchor was visible on the bottom so we could see it was well dug in.

Caroline went for a swim, brave girl, but I stayed aboard reading and sipping that beer I’d been looking forward to.   There were only a few boats in the anchorage and everyone had the good manners to stay apart, and the single powered vessel there did NOT run her generator, so we had a lovely evening.

I have to remark that a brand new ‘Hanse’ about 50’ long came in and anchored… what an ugly boat, ugly from any angle.  I marvelled at how such an utterly graceless object could attract a buyer…. oh well, it’s the new normal.

Incredible stars after a belated sunset, it being just about the longest day of the year.  A bit of reading in our bunks then a sound sleep.

Got up early, made coffee and after clearing up breakfast we hoisted the main and set off for Christian Island.  I do love sailing off the anchor, and marvel that so few people do it.   There was hardly a breath of air, but that’s enough to get SURPRISE gliding.   While Caroline catted the anchor up forward, I pushed the main out to starboard to back the sail… obediently SURPRISE reversed away gently from over her hook and once facing outward, I let the main swing over to port and out to the shrouds.   In no time there was a gurgle at her bow and the knot meter was registering .2 then .6 then 1.2 knots.   Out came the genoa, and the speed jumped to 2.2 and away we went.

Outside the sheltering hook of the point, we glided past some fishermen, whose voices came to us over the still water… ‘what a pretty boat… must have an electric motor’.   And the answer from the other fisherman ’no Bob, I think they’re really sailing’.   Bob: ‘but there’s no wind’.   Well there was and enough.

Within half an hour the zephyr built and built and soon SURPRISE was bounding along for the northern cape of Beckwith Island with a bone in her teeth close reaching and 5.7 knots on the meter.   What a glorious morning.   

By lunch we were around the top of Beckwith and looking down the channel toward Little Sand Bay on Christian Island, the place Gordon Lightfoot was anchored in Golden Goose when he wrote the famous song… we had the usual thrill as we came in with 170’ showing on the depth gauge which suddenly jumped to 12’ as we crossed the drop-off and the startlingly visible sandy bottom raced by beneath us.   We picked a nice spot and rounded up head to wind, furled up the genny, and as we slowed I pushed the main out to starboard backing the sail and putting on the brakes.   As our forward way ended and the boat began backing up, I said quietly to Caroline ‘let go!’ and out spun the chain when she released the brake on the windlass.   As the 50’ marker went by she put the brake on again and laid a hand on the chain to feel the anchor dig in… and dig in it did.   She gave me a thumbs up, then came back to the mast and let the main fall when I called the usual ‘bombs away!’.   We furled up and in minutes were relaxing in the cockpit.

Caroline swam again, but me, quite averse to early season cold water, stayed in the cockpit again but felt very clever for putting a bucket of water on the stern for the sun to warm.  I had a nice sponge bath with warm water a couple of hours later.

We had another BBQ dinner, and sipping wine went back to reading Jackie Stewart’s autobiography together.   I read aloud while Caroline knits… we both feel like we know the man by this point.  What an interesting and thoroughly honourable man Stewart is.   Thank you Marianne of WINDWARD for lending us that book.

Another quiet night with blazing stars… enjoyed the first sighting of the season of the diving ducks whose antics we laugh at.  When one dives, they all suddenly follow… then pop up again in quick succession, each one looking around in apparent surprise at where they are and where all the others are.  

Morning… now we’re up to Sunday.  The weather forecast showed a high probability of thunder squalls in the afternoon so we plucked up the anchor early, again amazing our neighbours in the anchorage by sailing off.  Away around the northern cape of Beckwith… away reaching down to the southern tip of Giant’s Tomb Island and the elusive green pin off Bennett Reef down there.  This is one of those we swear moves around to hide from us.  Ya we could have flicked on the GPS but that’s hardly sporting.

Much to my delight there was a boat astern of us, which we did the classic horizon job on, leaving it a dwindling dot behind us.  Ahead was a nondescript Catalina 36 trudging along looking completely ungainly with a full enclosure ‘oxygen tent’ over its cockpit and awkward dinghy on davits high over its stern.  We ground him down as we beat tack upon tack up the sound, but the air grew light as we closed the gap with him…  the light air accentuated the great heat, and it was with some secret relief that I announced to Caroline ‘he’s given up!  He’s motoring!’  Which of course meant that we could now motor too…  

Around Midland Point we hummed, than back to the club, putting a harbour stow on the mainsail as we approached the spit.   We went to the club’s utility dock to do a pump out… there was Inukshook II, stepping her mast.  I called over to her skipper ‘were’s the other hulls?’  thinking this was comic genius, because he’d just sold his trimaran and now had a monohulled ’normal’ boat.   

Then something regrettable happened… we were tied up and the hose was chugging the contents of our holding tank, Gerry was just getting his mast vertical astern of us under the mast crane… and along came a motorboat towing a wake up the club’s channel.  There is a public launching ramp up at the end of the channel so sometimes boat traffic dragging wakes is inconvenient.   Gerry and his helpers were having some difficulty getting the butt of his mast into the step, and the approaching motor boat wasn’t slowing down… worse, it changed its course to come skimming along past Gerry’s boat about four feet off and was heading for us.

I jumped up onto our cabin top and made a two handed downward pressing motion hoping to indicate slow down please, then pointed to their wake.   The guy driving the motorboat was smiling and as I made my signals, he shouted ‘WELL HELLO GORD LACO!’     I’m sorry I don’t know who he was … but his smile instantly turned to a frown and as he swept past us just a few feet away, I heard him say to his companion ‘I’m not going that fast’  and he kept going.   I called over ’they’re just getting to the critical part! point to the guys struggling with the mast… but I don’t think the fellow in the motorboat heard me.

Gerry called over ’thanks!’ but the guy in the motorboat was clearly offended.   I wish I knew who that was… 
Oh well… it was a great weekend otherwise…  About two hours after we got back the squalls came through; driving rain, thunder, we were glad we weren’t still out on the water and hoped those who were saw it coming...

Gordon Laco
Surprise 426

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