Keel is gone
Below my personal first hand view of what happened to me while sailing to Begg Rock a month ago.
I started writing this the day after while at a local laundromat in San Diego. I’ve gone quite a few times through it and almost every time I remember/change something. That will probably keep happening, so here it is.
It was a nice warm and cloudy day. A gale was forecasted for that same weekend, but we should have time enough to be able to make it to Begg Rock and back.
We had a nice breeze of 12-15 knots from W-WSW. As I was not sailing in local waters and we’re sailing to weather, I decided to put one reef on the main and a full (110%) jib. There was also 1 to 2 meter swell from NW, I was actually day dreaming about the way back, surfing the swell with the kite up…
We started going SW with the seas on the beam for about an hour. It was really fantastic sailing, and I like to think I manage to keep up with the rest of the fleet.
About an hour and a half later I tacked on a big shift (that I saw a few minutes ahead because all boats to weather of me tacked). Now we’re beating against the wind and the swell. I did my best to not to fall from the top of the waves, but a couple of times I could not avoid it. I’d say I felt from a wave 2 or 3 times in about 30 minutes.
OK, it was probably about 5:30pm when I put the autopilot on and went down below to check the GPS, the chart and the course to Begg Rock, trying to figure out when to tack again.
I remember the autopilot not playing one big wave and falling from the top. Not too bad. Just after that, though, there was a huge heel to leeward and I’m thrown to the ‘other side of the boat’. Well, minis are not too big, and I’m a big lucky guy… yeap, I found myself standing with one foot on the side of the boat and one hand on the cabin ceiling. I pushed my self up a bit just enough to get my upper body out through the companionway, reach the main sheet and uncleat it, letting it go about a couple of feet or so. At the same time the boat started to righten herself up I climbed to windward and that stabilized the whole thing.
Sit back and relax, I thought. And then is when I started hearing a weird noise. Of all noises she’s been teaching me to hear, this was a new one. It was like if you grab an empty plastic bottle and squeeze it with your hand. Weird!! There I was, looking everywhere for the source of that noise… but nothing was wrong.
Until, of course, I looked at my feet. Just there, on the aft joint of keel box with the hull, there was a long and narrow bluish-greenish strip. What the hell is this?!? It was, of course, the freaking Pacific Ocean smiling at me and trying (slowly but successfully) to get inside of the boat.
As water was starting to get inside, I remembered the comment when passing the PSSA’s safety check: ‘Those round plugs are useless, cracks don’t really have that shape, if something happens just get a towel or something in there!’. And that’s what I did. I got one towel and ‘covered’ the strip to slow down the flow of water. It did seem a successful move!
Then I called a ‘sécurité’ on the VHF with the objective to let the Coast Guard know that I was having problems. It was still quite shocked by the whole thing, but then, when still talking on the VHF, I realized that there was more water inside that the one it could have come through the towel-covered strip… I stopped talking and started bailing out!
I had no clue where the ‘other’ crack was, but when I moved my bags with food and autopilot backups that were covering part of the keel box (the other part was covered with the batteries), I saw the same type of crack all around the keel box! As an afterthought, I kind of remember seeing the ocean also through the holes where the keel bolts were supposed to be, and I was afraid of the keel falling down, but at that moment I did not internalized the keel may have gone already…
By then I had about half a foot of water inside, and I pressed the red button on the VHF (DSC button). Keep bailing out! A few seconds and no contact on the radio… oh, cool, there is a funny message on the vhf screen saying something like: ‘Are you sure you want to press that little red button?, if so, press it again and hold it for 5 seconds’. Hell no! I just lifted that little protection flap and press the button as an exercise to check if I could do it with just one hand! Of course I wanted to press the freaking button!!! OK, now I will hold it for 5 seconds….
And just a few seconds after I lifted my finger from the button I got the US Coast Guard on Channel 16.
They double checked I did not push the button by mistake, and then what was the reason of my emergency. I remember telling them that I was taking on water but everything seemed ‘stable’ (may be about a foot or so of water inside). They also asked about my life jacket (yes, I had it on and I was clipped on to the boat too).
There were some questions that I never thought I had to answer on the VHF in an emergency: Full name and date of birth… I’m sure having a strong spanish accent doesn’t help much when you’re on an emergency but they dealt with it really well. And, of course, they wanted to check who I was. They also asked for the CF number and my GPS position. Well, I have pretty bad memory and the CF numbers were on the outside of the cabin… but they really wanted to know, so I went outside try to memorize them and went down below again to tell them (in my next boat I’ll put a sticker with the CF numbers on the VHF). About my position… I had my GPS connected to the VHF, and the GPS position was displayed on the VHF screen. I had also entered my fully-registered MMSI number on the VHF… but still they didn’t get my position. Weird!!!!
Ex Keel Box
I have to confess that, while all this happened, I never thought the keel could have gone to the bottom already and I could turtle at any moment… but every time I was getting in and out I carefully put my feet on the side walls and away from the hull, as I was scared to death that the whole thing could break under my weight taking my leg with it.
After short contact on the radio, sailboat Tenacity appeared on my port bow. It definitely felt better to have somebody around. Thank you!!!!
After checking that the stern was almost underwater (including the pump nozzle) and that there was almost two feet of water inside (it got in way too fast) is when I decided that I could not win against the laws of physics, the weight of the boat and the big hole on the bottom. Minis should have positive flotation. Meaning that they float when full of water. So I was not going to sink to the bottom but every gallon I pump out was going to be replaced by a new fresh one. No reason to get tired… so I stopped pumping.
After all this is when I tried to lower the sails… jib first (yes, I know, the main was getting me more at risk of capsizing). Then I saw the Coast Guard helicopter flying over me (later they told me the helicopter was in the air when I called in, and in those cases they fly to the position to have a visual assessment of what’s going on).
One thing I did was to get the flares container and my bag with all my personal stuff out. Just in case I had to use them or the she went down. Also tried to plan on my mind how to take the life raft out if really needed… I’m so glad that’s pretty easy on Minis! But still I was not as fresh as when doing it at the marina…
But after all all that was not really needed. Not too long after, and only about 20 minutes after I 5-second-pressed the red button, the LA Lifeguards (2 or 3 boats) and the Coast Guard Cutter had arrived. I believe I was about 7 miles offshore by then. Thank you!!!!
The first thing we tried to do when they arrived was to try to pump the water out. They brought a diesel pump on board, but we couldn’t even start it. Every time we moved around, the boat heeled a bit towards us, and then all the water inside went in our direction and then she kept heeling over… so, after a couple of failed intents, they called us on board the Lifeguard’s boat.
New plan: We’re going to try to tow her upwind, lower the main and then tow her back to Marina del Rey. Well, that didn’t happen either. Just after we tied the tow line and started towing she decided that she’d hold in there enough and capsized. All the way. And it was there when I saw her bottom… with no keel! No freaking keel!!!!!!
I’d like to thank the Lifeguards for being there so fast, and for all the efforts they did to cover the hole and try to right her up (but she just didn’t want to collaborate, though), and for cutting the rig off so the mast (facing down) would not break the whole deck when getting close to shallow waters. One of them broke a rib helping me… Sorry man!!
I’d like to thank also Tenacity for staying there with me and recovering my bag (it floated away!) and for all the support I’ve received from members of the PSSA and Singlehanded Sailing Society. Also to Jerome from OpenSailing for helping me to get into the start and with all the mess after that. And, of course, to all my friends, fellow sailors and ministas that have provide with lots of support through those days. And, with a warm memory in my heart, to the people of South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club, that, when the Lifeguards drop me at their docks, they provide me all the support I needed. And food and drinks! Thank you all!!!
There are few thing I have not solved yet. For example, how come I could still talk on the VHF with two feet of water inside (and most probably the batteries under water)? Or, why didn’t she capsize until I stepped out into the Lifeguard’s boat? How come I had not hurt myself? No idea. But, in any case, sometimes is just good to be lucky.
Barcelona World Race
Sometimes it just happens and I never know why, but it’s very interesting to see how suddenly the planets align and, somehow, I find myself in the middle of something I could have only dreamt a short while ago.
In late November, after more than a year away from Spain, I got into a plane destination Barcelona. Family, friends, bars, food… (well, I had to work too) were waiting for me and, I couldn’t wait to see them!! Going to Barcelona always exceeds my wildest dreams, and this time was not going to be an exception. They were all there, we had lunch, dinners, lots of drinks, tons of laughs… I was the happiest soul on earth.
The last week of my trip was supposed to be a week long worth of walking towards Santiago de Compostela (check Wikipedia if you want more info why I choose that destination, I promise you the white wine and the seafood has nothing to do with it). But a big snow-storm in Spain the week before made me change my mind: Instead of walking through the mountain towards Santiago, I was going to walk backwards through the Monegros desert and valleys towards Barcelona!
I choose a starting point about a walking-week away from Montserrat and started my journey. After walking 6-7 hours a day for 4 days, arriving at the Monastery of Montserrat at night in the middle of the mist with all my body hurting and not enough water (I got lost for 3 hours following the wrong path), is something I will not forget. Hiking up to the top of Montserrat the following day with a friend and plenty of sunshine, was going to be the perfect end to a fantastic story.
Only one thing left to do… to go check out the IMOCA60 boats of the Barcelona World Race. We planned lunch at a restaurant close to the boats and I went to check them out… And then, when I got there, is when they told me the marina is not open to visitors yet. Next Monday they said. Whatever… I’ll be in a plane back to the USA next Monday!!
Start of the Barcelona World Race
I missed them. I could see them behind the fence, but I could not get any closer. That was it, after a fantastic lunch with my friends and a million mojitos just a few meters away from the boats, we headed back home. I can only tell you that my trip back to the USA was a very hard one. Barcelona, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, San Diego… thinking I had missed them! Dammed!!!
So, when in Christmas week I found myself in an airplane flying back to Barcelona I could not believe it. Not only I was going to spend Christmas with my family, New Year’s eve and plenty of days with my friends, I was also going to be in Barcelona for the start of the Barcelona World Race!!!
And we made it. One day to go check the boats mid afternoon, and on the 31st to see the start of the race. Very, very impressive, and very glad I was there. I took lots of pictures that are not quite impressive as the real boats, but is the only thing left after their departure. Hope you like them.
And now, of course, I’m thinking about flying to France for the start of the 2011 Mini Transat… but that will have to be after a stop in Barcelona. Dammed I like that Place!
Back to the water
And she finally went back to the water. And we took her for a spin… or two.
The first (and very short) ride was actually using the outboard motor. I had to take her from the crane area to my berth. At first, I was scared as hell to make sure I didn’t crash against other boats (there is probably enough space to turn around a 70 footer in there!), but just after few meters I saw she was behaving very well. And, after a set of tacks (under motor) to check tiller response, my confidence went sky rocket. It was working!
I was so excited that I went to a big clean area just outside of the marina and started doing 360′s (just pull/push the tiller all the way and make her go in loops). It was a big surprise to me when I realized she was doing fantastic loops with a very tight turning radius. Now I wonder what the other sailors or anybody who saw me thought looking at me chasing my tail, but, by then, I was a very happy sailor…
The second ride was a ‘real’ one. It was actually a perfect day, as there was very little wind (even for San Diego) and we were four on board (including my brother and a friend visiting from Spain). Very light wind but enough to start believing that the whole thing really worked, as just to get out of the marina and out through the channel we had to get out of the way of a motoring-sailboat that didn’t remember the rules of the road and avoid (tacking around) the big barge that is currently dragging the channel.
Once outside she behaved very well. Enough to even try with the spinnaker. Nice, very nice response at the tiller and very neutral helm… all in five to eight knots of wind.
Now we needed more wind.
And last week, Alejandro and myself took her for another ride, but this time it was blowing 12 to 15 knots. That was going to be it…
We tacked our way out through the channel, avoided the barge and once outside got her in a close reach… and she behaved. It was the first time we didn’t have to fight the tiller when going uphill. Then we asked her to start getting closer to the wind… and she did. And also for the first time, I saw her beating to windward as a ‘normal’ boat would. Nice speed, very nice angle, nice, very very nice…
And then we went for the run back… and the spinnaker went up. I have only the ‘small’ spinnaker, but it was enough to push her to nine knots. Effortless. In fact we let the tiller go and she kept going… no pushing, to pulling, no fighting, no nothing else than sitting back and enjoying the (very fast) easy ride back home.
I’m probably still recovering from the fact that know, after a year and a half since she left the German boatyard, I had the boat I have been dreaming since I bought her. A very nice boat that could take me safely and very fast through offshore passages towards distant finish lines.
Now, it will just depend on the dummy at the end of the tiller, but that was the plan on the original deal…
Pepe Gotera y Otilio
About a month ago, and almost 4 months after ordering them (we all know, good stuff takes time) the new rudders made it to my doorstep. All the excitement of new rudders and the possibility of going sailing again before days get too short didn’t last too long, though, as the work of installing the rudders opened a new and surprising set of chapuzas…
We choose to take Koh Samia out of the water to make easier the rudder installation and, at the same time take a look at some little cracks on the keel-hull joint. Nothing to worry, just cracks on the fiber, I was told, only going aground at high speed could actually damage the keel.
And they were right, but once the boat was out of the water, some rust-colored drops started to drip from those cracks… for days!
So we had to open it out to see what was going on… and, as Evodio found out, the keel box had lots of empty volumes where the salt water had found its way through the little cracks and started to rust everything… including the keel!
So we had to open the whole area, clean the rust of everything, let it dry, fill it up… and while doing it, we also found some fiberglass had been glassed over… the gelcoat! Well, I’m not a boat builder, but it definitely seems like a chapuza to me. A big chapuza.
The good thing about all this is that now, after a fantastic job fixing it, I do trust my keel. I mean, being out there and thinking that we’re taking water through little cracks on keel joint, even if you know it is safe, it keeps flashing as a little warning light in my brain. Now I’ve seen the problem, I’ve seen the fix, and I trust it 100%. Gracias Evodio!!
And we’re finally getting to work on the original reason for taking her out of the water… the rudders! We’ll be fairing them, giving them the right waterlines, painting and installing them… with some new twist. It’s going to be fun!
She should be in the water soon, then it’ll be time to check new things and shake her down again, get used to the new rudders, and get some miles on the new set up… hopefully everything holds and feels safe for the season ahead.
My current plans after a few weekends shaking her down around here, are to sail south. Mexico and the Tropic of Cancer are just too close to San Diego to not dream about them. And, in winter, I can not find any better place to sail to. Los Cabos or La Paz, are the obvious destinations… about 750nm away in a downhill course. Let’s see if I manage to make it this time.
Fun, fun, fun…
Koh Samia’s weather map
About two months ago I was trying to get ready for the 2010 Singlehanded Transpac. A big important part of that was to do a 400 nautical miles solo and get, at least, 100nm offshore. If you happen to live in San Diego, though, the 100 miles offshore mark will get you just outside of the Southern California Bight… and into a totally different set of winds.
I spent lots of time trying to figure out the wind ‘out there’ using public sources but I didn’t manage to find anything. Really. May be I wasn’t being lucky, but all the sailing sites that provide forecasts seem to have a ‘Southern California’ wind map (with the west-end around San Clemente Island) and a ‘all the way to Hawaii’ map (covering most of the eastern north-Pacific), but nothing in between. It became very frustrating to try to figure out if I’d have 30 knot winds or just plain calm. And in one of my trips I headed out expecting 35 knots and big waves… and spent a long time adrift with zero-calm wind.
Koh Samia’s weather map
And that was the origin of Koh Samia’s weather map.
A web page where I can go and check the wind predictions west of San Clemente Island. In fact, thanks to NOAA‘s forecasts (our tax money at work!) I can have access to the wind predictions everywhere in the globe! And all this while using a XXI’s century interface (based on Google Maps) that allows me to zoom in, zoom out and move around anywhere in the world. Cool, eh?
And even more! I usually like to go back in time to see what happened and try to figure out what will happen in the future… so I will keep all the data all the way back to June 19Th 2010 (2010 SHTP start day).
And, as the data I’m using is freely available from NOAA and the mapping interface is freely available from Google, I’ve decided it to keep it open and keep it free (as in beer). You’re totally welcome to use it as much as you need to.
Hope you like it. Now it’s time for me to fix my boat and go sailing again. 2012 is not that far away…
If you’ve more or less followed this blog, you’ll know all the problems we had to get the boat out of the yard in Germany, the youth gear problems while we finally took her for a some fantastic sailing days in Lelystad, and the more delays getting the boat to the USA.
Due to lack of time for proper preparation and training I missed PSSA‘s Bishop Rock race and Guadalupe Island Race. Then I tried to make it to the SHTP start… but tiller and rudder problems on the qualifier sail put the end into my 2010 SHTP dreams.
It had been a very intense boat-focused year and a half, and after not being able to accomplish any of my 2010 goals, I really needed a break. A real one.
On June 19Th 2010 I went to the Corinthian Yacht Club were I met the racers, race committee and lots of very nice people, and witness the 2010 SHTP fleet leave towards Hawaii. Very nice to see them leave, very sad to stay in land.
After that I went to Point Reyes (a government protected seashore a few miles north of San Francisco, probably the windiest point on the US west coast), a place I could take a look at the ocean that the racing fleet had to deal with after crossing under the bridge.
After some hours walking around and facing up to 40 knots winds (and hopping they didn’t have that big of a breeze) while looking at the ocean and taking deep breaths, I drove back to town.
I ended up stopping in the area around St Francis Yacht Club (were they had a beautiful mini car show with all kind of beautiful cars just in front of the club). There I saw the kids racing and having lots of fun in the Opti Heavy Weather Regatta in quite big breeze… Ok, I was going to take a break, I was going to recover all my lost energy, and I was going to go back to racing again.
And after that I’ve been out of sailing for most (all) of the summer season. And that included writing in this blog.
But last week I found myself dreaming again about what to do with my tiller, how to set up my autopilot so it doesn’t burn again, about the feeling of the boat with the new (soon to come) rudders,… and, obviously, about sailing this late-season, prepare for Bishop Rock Race again and making sure that, when the real deal departs towards Hawaii in 2012, I’m ready and I’m there.
I’m heading out again.
After having replaced the autopilot drive and having bought a back up for a just in case, I believe we’re ready again. So we’re heading out… it should be a pretty nice, warm and sunny weekend.
My goal? To enjoy a 3-day weekend solo at sea. And, if all the planets align, to qualify to the 2010 SHTP. It should be fun…
And I’ll also try to keep a log of my trip on the map below…
It’s about 9am on Saturday morning. I’m at a bakery having a great cheese sandwich and a fantastic coffee. I call my parents in Spain to confirm that, when the wind finally picks up, I’ll be heading out for my 400 miles 2010 SHTP qualification sail. After the call I head to the marina and start preparing the boat for the trip…
It doesn’t take me long to get things ready. Time to go. I start hoisting the main but somehow it gets stuck somewhere… the runners. It always happens… I clear them and keep hoisting. Then it gets stuck somewhere else… the runners again? nope. Then where…?
Last night I finished up all the preparations for the ‘big’ sail. I finished quite late but I managed to do everything on the list. The most difficult thing to install was the radar reflector. A huge octahedral metallic thing that should improve our chances to be seen by boats with radar. Because of race rules it has to be least 13 feet above the water, so I decided to install it between the spreaders. I had to go up and down the mast until everything was secured in place: a line to the top spreader, a line to the bottom one, a line to the shroud and… and…
And yes, I tied a line around the mast. And the main sail didn’t want to go up. I wonder why…
It took me about 10 minutes to fix it. Not a big deal but something really embarrassing at the moment and really funny to remember later on. OK, back to business, hoist the main, let the mooring lines go… and motor out. At about noon we’re already sailing. And of course, the wind had been blowing for almost an hour. Those precious lost minutes of wind on the sails…
NW winds at about 10 knots. My only real destination was to go to a point at least 100 miles offshore, while sailing at least 400 miles before coming back. Quite easy navigation, I thought. I’ll make my way out without getting into much trouble, trying not to hit any island nor beating too hard.
At about 5pm the wind slows down to about 2 knots from the West. I get into ‘get away from shore’ mode. But not too much later it stops. Zero Calm. Oh well, this is San Diego, it’s always light at night, this is normal, we’ll get some wind in a few minutes…
As it got dark and there was no wind to be found and lots of fishing boats around, I decided to spend the night on the cockpit. And I kept one eye open all night looking for fishing boats and making sure that I was not being drifted to the “US Navy vessel in a four point mooring performing underwater operations at 117 deg something and 32 deg something is requesting all vessels to keep 2 miles distance… for their own safety” about 6 miles south east of my drifting position. On a north-south current.
For the next 20 hours we had about two 10 minutes puffs that allowed me to get away from the Navy vessel (I wonder what they actually thought about me!). The rest of the night was dead calm.
At about noon a US Navy frigate shows up on the NW horizon, and she was getting closer quite fast to my drifting position (not strange, as I was pretty close to Mexican waters). And suddenly, when I was wondering if I should prepare coffee to welcome my visitors, something happens… wind!!!
It picked up fast, and in a few minutes I had my jib up and I was making 6-7 knots going West. Wind!!!!!!!!! It’s quite amazing how 20 hours of pain and frustration disappear with a bit of breeze. For the next 3 hours I hand steer on an almost lake-flat water with about 12 knots of wind on a beam reach. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
OK, I need a break. Food, water, some relax,… I press the ‘Auto’ button and go down below. A lack of noise coming from the autopilot drive and a lack of boat steering gets me back on the cockpit very fast. What’s going on? Press ‘Stop’, press ‘Auto’ again… nothing. Nothing!!! The dammed drive has decided that doesn’t want to work today!!
A fast evaluation of the situation by a very tired and excited mind (ie, me) gets me hand steering towards San Diego. I’ll try to get closer to shore and I’ll be trying to figure out what the problem is. I’m glad Koh Samia behaves quite well by herself with balanced sails, even with waves, so I could take short naps and or go down below to play with the electronics and the damaged drive without having to stop.
As it gets dark, we get closer to Mission Bay and I have not managed to fix the autopilot I decided to head in. Back home. End of my 400 miles qualifier. End of my 2010 SHTP dream.
And is at that moment, with about 12 knots from the SW in a dark night when we start heading home when I realize somebody is pointing at us with a very powerful light beam. But from where??? In fact they are not pointing us from the surface… it’s an underwater light! And it’s just in front of our bow! Shit, can this be one of the San Diego based submarines? Then I turn back and see two light sabres coming from my rudders… phosphorescence!!!
For the next couple of hours we surf the swell on a totally dark night enjoying the light of the water on our bow, and the fantastic strips of light behind the rudders. All while making about 7-8 knots of boat speed. It definitely doesn’t get any better than that. And, I must say, just for those few hours it was worth all the painful windless night
And next morning, we’re told that the qualifier period has been extended to June 12th because of light conditions in South and North California while most of the fleet was trying to do the qualifier. We’re back in! One extra month playing! And this is going to be lots of fun!
And now, about a week later, after some time to think about the previous weekend, and understand what was wrong with the autopilot (burned motor, gracias Jose Miguel!), and that there is nothing wrong with the electronics (thanks Marc and everybody who has helped me with this!). We’re already planning for next weekend. For our 400 miles qualifier for the SHTP version 2.0. Però aquest cop si!
One thing I’m sure. There will not be yang without yin. And we’ll be expecting them.
The rumor is real… we have signed up for the 2010 Singlehanded TransPacific Yacht Race (SHTP). From San Francisco (California) to Hanalei Bay, Kauai (Hawaii). A total of 2120 nautical miles starting in cold weather and finishing in tropical waters. I really can not think of a better way to spend the summer…
In order to participate, though, there is a requirement that needs to be accomplished before May 22nd: a 400 nautical miles course, sailed singlehanded and, at least 100 nautical miles offshore. And May 22nd is next weekend, so this is our weekend. On Saturday May 15th, Koh Samia and myself will head out for our sail. I’m very excited, as this is something I’ve been looking forward for a very long time. If everything works fine we’ll be closer to the start line. If we have some random issue… dream over.
But there is more: we’re going to be testing the SHTP reporting process. That means, during the qualification sail, and if everything works well, we’re going to be updating the map below with our location and provide a little log (just click on the pins!). Updates should happen every couple of hours or when something special happens.
I really hope everything goes well and you guys like it!
And here the log as a table…
Mission Bay Infinite Loop
We all know good relationships are hard to get and even harder to keep. Sometimes you give up, sometimes they give up, and somehow, we think we’re giving up more times that they do, and they think they’re giving up more times than we do. And that’s the game we like to play. Some people calls it love, others call it chaos (I personally think that the reason is because they count mangoes and we count pineapples, and we all know those two don’t add up… but on a smoothie).
In my case is a nice mix of both. I’m working very hard on our relationship (or at least that’s what I think I’m doing) and I expect (bad Santi, bad,…) some comprehension, some kind of support and some sweet words. I guess the selfish in me is asking for some kind of compensation… and we all know it doesn’t work that way.
Two weeks ago she got a full job done: I first went up the mast (quite scary the first time) to install some protection so the spreaders don’t damage the sails. Then I got in the water to clean her bottom from some substantial growth. Quite a workout!
After that long session she looked really pretty. And I don’t mean pretty only as in ‘beautiful’, but also pretty as in ‘ready’. Is like she had just put her night-dress on and she was ready to go out. And I’m always ready to go out with a pretty girl!
So, in mid afternoon of a Sunday, with the sun still up and the wind blowing, I rush to get us ready…
OK, take the jib out of there… cleat the hanks on, the sheets,… and don’t forget the rings! The main… shit this main is heavy! OK, leeward side… this one! Unroll it, tie the outhaul, the tack, the knot for the halyard and get it ready. OK, next, the small outboard… what else… sorry for waiting Honey, we’re almost there! what else… Ah, yes! it’s windy, so it’ll be wet, I better put my long pants now before I get wet,… OK, I think I’m ready… let me look around, everything looks fine,… we’re ready Honey!!
The plan was easy, as it was blowing about 15 knots, I was going to look for a quite spot on the windward side outside of the marina and hoist the sails. I know she sails pretty well with jib only, but I need to hoist the main as soon as possible.
OK, we’re out of the marina, but… what the hell is this?!? Mission Bay or Las Ramblas? (‘Las Ramblas’ is a long street in Barcelona where there is always lots of people walking up and down, is always busy, day and night).
OK somebody coming close from port on a collision course, they are sailing, I’m motoring with sails down, they are going downhill at about 6 knots, I’m struggling to to uphill at less than 2 knots… another sailboat coming from starboard a few meters ahead…, who the hell has preference if I can not get out of their way? I felt like trying to cross Carrer d’Aragó in Barcelona walking across all cars going fast and not willing to move or stop… no way I could make it without running… and with my little motor I could not run at all!
I still don’t know how, but I managed to get to the windward side. The rest is a sad history, I hoist the jib (the easy one) and when I’m at the mast hoisting the main… yet, another boat screaming at me. But if I’m not sailing at all!!! OK, I need to move or they’ll crash me, go to the tiller, and head down, I’ll do a circle while those ones pass, and then I’ll came back up… and back to the mast to hoist the main,… yeah, right!
I tried the infinite loop of going to windward and having to get back down because of traffic three or four times. After that, I saw the look on her face, and she probably saw the look on mine… and we finally went in, back to the marina, away from all those floating devices…
One of the issues was that my small outboard (an electric one) didn’t give us enough speed to move fast in the middle of the mess, nor the range to motor out of the main channel and hoist the sails on the open ocean. That is now fixed, and she’s got a more powerfull gas outboard so we can get out and sail away!
But, after the play, I was tired, sweaty, and very, very frustrated. I could not even hoist the freakin’ main!!
Sorry, not today, Honey.