Monday, January 24, 2011

One lap of Gedney Island

New Years day wasn't quite as balmy as this weekend.  In fact, it was a cold clear 24 degrees with a light breeze and an excellent day for sailing.  This was my third official trip as the skipper of Sojourn.  Kyle and I sailed around Gedney Island.

I decided when we bought the boat that it had to be a year round hobby.  I also decided not to let myself be cold, which really means dressing warmly before you get cold rather than adding layers after you get cold. I find this works well and now go to great lengths to make sure anyone I want to go sailing with again doesn't have a cold miserable trip.  New years day was a good test.  In the end, I was happy that Kyle had brought along some of those disposable hand warmers, but I never did get chilled to the bone and didn't need to go diving for the car heater at full blast as soon as Sojourn was safely back in her slip.

As evidence that it really does get to be 24 occasionally on Puget Sound, I offer the sign at the access gate to Sojourn's slip.  It warns of ice on the marina and some common sense instructions, one of which I technically violated; don't move your vessel when the marina is frozen over.  When I first read the sign, I thought it was a bureaucratic requirement for a hundred year event.  I pondered that sign as we listened to the ice make an out of world echoing crackle sound as we backed out of the slip.  This was in fact the second time since being in Everett that it was frozen over.

The main channel was free of ice.  This was my first opportunity to try the auto-tiller, so I set a heading for the middle of the channel and Kyle and I got to the business of hoisting the sails.  Once on hoisted and on course for Gedney, we realized that we pretty much had the ocean to ourselves save some seagulls, ducks and a sea otter.  Kyle wanted to relax and do some homework, so I played with the auto tiller and trimming the sails. It doesn't much like to be on a close reach.

This is an amazing quality of Kyle's.  On both of our sailing trips together, he is happy to sit back relax and do his  homework.  I won't go into his previous troubles here, but leave it that last year, hanging out with dad on a sailboat and doing homework voluntarily seemed like an unlikely dream.  He is turning into a man and I'm very proud of him.

At about 3:30 we were on the south west side of Gedney.  I didn't know how much further to round Gedney and we had less than 2 hours of daylight left.  We had just fallen into Gedney's wind shadow and had to fire up the diesel.  In a moment of indecision I turned back. After a couple of minutes, I changed my mind again and motored around Gedney.  At about 3:50, we rounded the norther point and the wind picked up.   Even at the less than lightening pace of a few knots, it never ceases to amaze me how much power there is in the wind.  Sojourns mast yielded to the wind in a broad reach and within seconds we were clipping along at nearly hull speed, heeled at a very pleasant 15 degrees on calm seas.

At 4:00, the wind had died down and had shifted more to the north.  We were only making 3-4 knots and in a race with dusk for the marina.  Everett was more than an hour away, while sunset was only a 30 minutes away.  I wasn't feeling up to sailing at night, so I fired up the diesel.  We left the sails up and motored along at nearly 7 knots, the diesel purring  happily with assistance from the sails.  We pulled in to the marina at about dusk after a very enjoyable couple of hours.   The pictures do a good job of capturing the day without betraying how cold it was.  Unfortunately, I couldn't hold the camera still enough after sunset.
Ben responded to my previous blog by asking if every day of sailing feels like it adds a month to the end of my life like it does his.  It most certainly does.

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