Monday, May 20, 2019

A Boat Blue as the Summer Sky: First Outing of the Year

On Jacobson Park Lake with the boys and cousin Thomas
It happened: we sailed! Saturday was warm, hot by mid-May standards, but the breeze was fine, with baby gusts for extra interest.

Four in a boat just fits.

You see us with the mainsail almost fully extended -- an extra line (rope) tied high on the mast got in the way and prevented Christopher from fully hosting the sail with the halyard (rope that pulls the sail up and down). Just one of many glitches and lessons we had that afternoon, but it didn't dampen the joy of being out.

The jib sail -- the little one in front -- hasn't been put up yet. I was still getting used to being on the water again and wasn't ready for taking care of two sails, or the extra speed it could give us.

As it was, the water slipped by quickly. Noah tossed a leaf into the water and it spun behind us in a moment, a satisfying sight. I grew braver and Christopher and his cousin Thomas hoisted the jib sail, and they and Noah were silhouetted against a cloud of white sails.

Back the other direction, towards the sun and the fluffy clouds racing towards us, we somehow positioned the boat and her sails just right, and the entire thing hummed, a thrumming sound somewhere near middle C, as if the Kingfisher was a living creature lifting itself along with wings, and now she created a small wave off each side of her bow, the water curling and splashing to each side. These are the moments that make people who sail enormously happy, because at that moment they are at one with the wind.

Jacobson Park lake. Image courtesy Google Maps.


Docks make everyone nervous


It was time to come in. I was hoping to get my sister and my husband out for a turn. Noah, now at the helm -- that is, handling the tiller attached to the rudder which steers the boat -- the main sheet in his hand, steered us towards a fishing dock. We were moving fast. Suddenly I lost my nerve and thought we might hit the dock, so made Noah change course and steer for the main dock, where the paddle boats and kayaks launch. Paddle boats. Told you this was a small lake :}

We looked at each other. The boat was still moving so fast that had we gotten to the dock at that speed we would have smashed into it. So I told Christopher to take the sail in, that is, pull it down. He did.

The boat stopped far more quickly than I thought. About 30 feet from the dock.

Out paddles. My nephew hadn't paddled before, but confidently dipped in on the same side as Christopher.

The Kingfisher described a graceful circle.

There were fisherman on the shore and I know some of them were watching.

We were no closer to the dock. Already somewhat worn from the nerves of getting a 350-pound conglomeration of fiberglass, wood, steel, and dacron afloat and doing what it should with three tween boys aboard, all saying "Let me [do whatever]" and a lot of "Why not, Mama?", I was snappish, and Noah, who actually is pretty decent in a boat, having had two summers of sailing school, was snapping at me too. He'd never had this problem before, his little practice boat being basically a well-designed plastic bathtub called, aptly, an Optimist.

Learning to play in the bathtub, 2018. Christopher and Noah in sailing class.

Optimists ahoy! I told you they were floating bathtubs.
Actually, they move rather fast and can be raced.
There are no pictures that I know of to document this embarrassing moment, one of several that day. My sister and husband had set up under the shade of a sizable tree, and I just knew were lolling comfortably with my husband, and hanging out lazily while their children and spouse were doing doughnuts on the water a few hundred feet away.

I had the idea to make Christopher hoist just enough of the mainsail that I could spread my arms and hold it out to catch some wind, enough to propel us towards shore. So that's what we did and I looked pretty silly doing it, but we eventually reached the dock, navigating with the help of two people with paddles and Noah at rudder too. I suppose that was amusing to watch, and I am faintly proud of myself for thinking it up, although in retrospect we could have powered under the jib sail alone. Live and learn. I already said that last post. It won't be the last time!

Let's not talk about getting the boat in the water, or out of it


Okay, let's do, and laugh about it.

First, rigging the boat the night before for practice was a good idea.

Yes, I rig boats in a dress. Don't you?
However, leaving all the lines attached to make it easier to launch the next day does not make it easier. Quite the reverse. Too many ropes, too many helping hands, and too many tangles.

Second, I was so nervous I gave my keys to my brother in law and forgot to get them back, gave my wallet to my sister and she stowed in the car where I couldn't find it, and I forgot to take my phone with its camera on the boat. That's why no pictures from within the boat.

You know if the road to the launch "driveway" curves before it gets to the water, you're going to have a devil of a time. It does and we did.

Unless you drive on the grass, there's no straight way into the water.
See all those colored paddle boats? Lots of them were on the water when we were. A kayak or two, too.

To drive a trailer backwards, WikiHow says first you make a strategy. No kidding. They describe the process in 11 steps.

You have to steer the car the opposite direction to the trailer to get the latter to move the direction you want it to. That messes with my mind something fierce. I could do it as a kid for some reason, but not as a 55 year old. Mmmpppffff.

It took three of us, with me switching out for my brother in law, and 20 minutes to back the boat in successfully. With people eating hot dogs and ice cream and cold sodas 10 feet in front of us and watching the proceedings, and one guy suggesting he could do it for us. We declined politely, though it was a nice offer.

Image titled Back a Trailer Step 7
Um, yeah.
Image courtesy WikiHow.
It took even longer to get out of the water.

You have to point the boat up onto the trailer. You know, nose first.

But the painter -- the rope that you pull the boat with -- was tied to the back of the boat, and has been since I got it.

So Curte standing next to the trailer had the boat painter in his hand, and I was paddling like mad to try to turn the right way round, and the wind was catching at the boat and turning it wrong way round.

We eventually did it, and packed everything up and went for a beer and sparkling water at Kentucky Native Cafe Biergarten with the family.

Ah, a Weissbier with my sister, and Noah relaxing with sparkling water and
hist book on a boulder. Nine of us around the table, the breeze laughing,
glasses clinking, no music, just leaves and voices. Perfect.


The cafe on a quiet afternoon. Image courtesy Google.

So there we are. As my brother in law said, it was a shakedown cruise. He was right, but it was worth it.

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