Monday, 16 July 2007

out and about

We weren't ready in any way, but I made a goal, and I was determined to stick to it. July 8th was the day of the local Volkswagen show at Gyro Park. We were putting Betsy, our '68 Beetle in the show and I wanted to sail there and anchor off the beach.

Kyra and I have been working on the boat whenever we can. I have the foundation of the electrical system completed with the engine, charging system, shore power, A/C and D/C distribution all done. Now all I have to do is actually run the wires and do the terminations. The simple part, but it will take a lot of time.

Anyway, the time came, and I put things together in preparation for sailing. I was so busy getting things ready, that I didn't get a commitment from anyone to go with me. Last minute phone calls failed to bear fruit. It seems that people have things to do sunny Saturdays in July.

Crew or not, here I come. Determined to follow the plan, even without a crew, I made preparations to cast off. Kyra was concerned about my singlehanding our boat. After all, we had only been out on it once before (so we weren't familiar with her) and I had never singlehanded before. I promised to be careful and Kyra went off to work.

I spent the morning stowing all of the partly started and partially complete refit projects and at twenty after twelve, I did the hard part, I radioed the bridge requesting a lift. I think getting on the VHF is the scariest part of sailing. After talking to the bridge operator, I cast off and headed out into the harbour. It takes twenty to thirty minutes to transit the harbour. It is a long entry. Of course, motoring is easy, just stand there and steer.

Once I got out into open water, I put the engine into neutral and cast off the furling line on the genoa. The wind was light as I hauled on the sheet and set the sail. Well, half the sail.
 The furling gear didn't seem to be cooperating. It seemed to be a little stuck. I checked my heading then clipped in and went forward. The collar around the furling drum was trying to follow the line around the forestay. I hadn't left any tension on the furling line, and it was filling all of the space available under the collar. So, I did what any guy would do, I forced it. [Editor's note: Rick knows better than to do that now.]

It took two trip to the bow, but within a minute, I was under sail. I killed the engine and enjoyed the real sound of a sailboat. This was the first time we had set the genoa and it was looking fine. I had decided that I would only set the foresail, as this was my first solo run. If I got into any trouble, I could douse it easily from the cockpit.

It was an easy reach down past Trial Island, a gybe, and then another reach up to Oak Bay. Outside Oak Bay there are a number of small islands and reefs. This was my first time through, so I started the engine and took in the sail. I motored through the hazards with one eye on the chart and then motored over to Cadboro Bay. There were more boats at anchor than I had expected. I made a slow pass through the anchorage and picked my spot, far from everyone else. Dropping the hook felt pretty routine. The was hardly any wind. That helped. It was a pretty casual affair. I backed down on the anchor and it grabbed right away. All there was left to do was grab a beer and relax.

By the time the awning was up and the beer was empty, I was sure that there was a better spot a lot closer to shore. So, I started the engine and moved. It was routine again. All of that anchoring in the Med last summer paid off. I kicked back and relaxed (with another beer), waiting for Kyra to drive to the park, so I could meet her on the beach.


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