First Sail of the Season

Hello. I’m writing this blog entry late Sunday afternoon from my patio, sipping a glass of home made wine, and simply relaxing. I just got home from a weekend on Galatea, no more than 20 minutes ago. In fact, if I close my eyes I can still  feel the motion of the boat. I had forgotten about that feeling you get after spending time on the water.

It was a great weekend. I went down to Mattapoisett by myself. Janet went away on a retreat, so it was perfect to spend some time by myself on the boat. I got down to the boat about 10am on Saturday, all ready to start putting the sails on, the dodger on…….. couldn’t even try do it. The wind was so strong there were 1-2 foot whitecaps in the harbor, excuse me, harba’h.

Instead I got to work getting the engine started and all the other little things. Hoping that in the afternoon the wind would die down for me to be able to put the sails on. The engine started right up, on the first push of the button. Getting a diesel engine to start for the first time in the season can be a hell of a lot of work sometimes. The key is getting the fuel through the fuel system. But it worked fine. I knocked on cetol covered wood. And thought how smooth things were going considering everything that can go wrong……. I spoke too soon. With the engine running for about five minutes I went down to the cabin. I as climbed down I thought the engine smelled of diesel fuel more than usual. That’s when I saw my cabin sole flooded with diesel fuel. I jumped up, killed the engine and went to work investigating the problem. Turned out I did not tighten the bleeder screw enough on the secondary fuel filter. I thought I had done that when I worked on the engine this spring. I guess not. Good lesson learned. Always check the bleeder screw. Well with each injection by the fuel pump, diesel fuel sprayed in all directions, covering the engine, and seeping down into the head and cabin. At least a half gallon of fuel filled the boat. It was nasty. I cleaned the spill with absorbent oil pads, lucky I had them. But with the boat rocking up and down, and breathing the diesel fumes, I got queasy real fast. I felt seasick the rest of the afternoon. The damn wind  and waves in the harbor would not let up.

Well, the wind did eventually diminish at around 4pm, but not by all that much. It was enough to put the mainsail and the dodger on. But still too much to put the headsail on by myself.

By six the wind had died almost completely and it was possible to put the genoa up. But by that time I already had my first glass of wine and I was in the mood to chill and enjoy the sights and sounds of the harbor. It was great,  just kicking back and being on the water for the first time this year. The feeling is indescribable, I felt as if this is where I belonged. Damn the rat race! Though it was lonely without Janet to share the experience. It’s also good to once in a while to have some personal space to recharge your batteries, and give your relationship and chance to breath.

I got up early this morning and put the headsail on. I wished I had done so the evening before. There was a good breeze out of the north. Not enough wind to prevent me from putting on sail, but enough wind to make it a pain in the ass. If there were two people it would have been ok.

I dropped the mooring a little after 8am and headed out. A nice breeze out of the north carried me across the bay to about a mile off of West Falmouth Harbor. That’s when the wind died. And I mean died. I just floated there for about 40 minutes. The boat went in complete circles twice, no steerage way to hold any kind of course. I just waited it out and basked in the sun and warmth. Several times I thought the boat was actually going backwards due to the current, probably was. Enjoyed a fantastic lunch, boloney and cheese. I gotta say, in my opinion, the most simple meal on a boat is as good, or better as a fine meal at a fancy resturaunt.

The wind came out of the west as it was forcasted. nice breeze at first. I pulled the sails in to sail closed haul to the south, eventually reaching the tip of West Island. I sailed as close to the Island as I dared and turned to sail back home. The winds grew to 20 knots. I was sailing downwind at that point, wing on wing. And with that strong breeze, I was cooking. I had the mainsail backed, so I was careful not to jibe. In fact, what I did was forget about the headsail, just set it and leave it. All the while concentrating my course on keeping the mainsail backed. Sometimes you have to re-learn some of the finer points of sailing at the begining of the season. Not just that, I couldn’t remember the right of way rules for windward, leeward boats. I still can’t remember. I have to look it up.

I managed to bring the boat home safely. It was blustery ride home for sure. But I have to admit, I fracken loved it. I just lifted my glass of wine in a toaste to a good sail and to a good upcoming sailing season.

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