Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My boat is haunted

Last Sunday we went out for a day sail on Lake Union.  A friend came along and brought with her, Kai; a seven year old boy.

Standing below, Kai was very impressed.

"This looks like a pirate ship?  Do you have any treasure?"

I told him I did indeed have treasure and, if he didn't tell anyone where I hid it, I'd show it to him.  He agreed and got out a bag of necklaces, watches, rings, jewelry.  He looked at it in awe and proclaimed, "Wow!  You do have treasure!  Mommy, he has treasure."

Then we went out on a very windy and choppy Lake Union to try out a few things.  I had an experienced crew with me; Kerry and Thor.  So, with that, we decided to sail away from the dock instead of motoring. Since the wind was coming from the north, as soon as we got the lines off, Brigadoon drifted right out into the lake.  Pulling up the staysail got us going downwind in short order, at around 4.5kts.

We decided to try just the staysail (the smallest of the three, the small jib closest to the mast).  It worked great downwind in 20kts.  Going to weather?  Not so much.  With the center pressure on the boat ahead of the mast caused a nasty lee helm (where the boat wants to fall off away from the wind).  So, we decided to play with that, with just the staysail, and see just how controllable the boat was.  It was -- just barely.  We were able to make headway to windward, just barely.  The surprising thing is that we were actually able to get her to tack almost every time.

Why didn't we raise the main?  We decided not to because it would need a reef for sure.  I'm not familiar enough with reefing the main to try to learn it in 20-25 kt winds with guests aboard.  That will be for another day, after I've had some practice with it on a calm day at the dock.

During the sail, Kai was quite pleased. He was very excited to be on a real sailboat and begged to go forward.  So we sent him there, with his mom and Thor's son Julian.  Kai didn't last long.  He said he was cold but, really, I think being "out there" on the foredeck was a little scary for him.

So, we put Kai down in the pilot house.  That is the great thing about Brigadoon.  Guests can go below and still enjoy the sail from the safety and great view afforded by the pilot house.

So Kai was sitting here, in front of the wheel enjoying himself when, suddenly, we heard him shout, "I can't sit here!  There's a ghost in this seat!  There is a ghost on this boat!  It's haunted!!!"

Looking below I saw him pointing at the wheel, as it concert with my own efforts at the wheel in the cockpit.  A little bit of reassurance on my part, showing Kai how I moved my wheel, and this one moved too, and everything was OK.

Returning to the dock was challenging. Since the wind was blowing hard from the north, that meant getting blown *away* from the end dock mooring.  We decided to take a first, "no way are we going to dock even if it's sitting perfectly along the pier" pass to see what it was like.

First pass...not so bad and here we go drifting away from the dock.

Second pass...maybe dock this dice as I came in too steep.

Third time?  That was the charm.  I brought the bow up, Thor stepped off with the bow line.  He secured it and I used the reverse and prop walk to port to back Brigadoon right up to the dock.  Not bad at all.

All in all a good day in really gusty winds, good solid chop, docking in less than optimum conditions and an encouragement to learn how to reef my mainsail on my schedule before the weather sets the schedule for me.

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