Day 23 — Voyage to Nowhere — Getting our Wits
Day 23 — Voyage to Nowhere — Getting our Wits

Bill Peterson

CATEGORIES: Captain's Journal


Log Entry : 9 Apr, 2020

Captain’s Journal :  Voyage to Nowhere, day 23, 4th month, 9th day, year 20

Eighty degrees by 10 AM with a westerly breeze at 9 knots and a zero percent chance of rain; I think we’ll fly an imaginary spinnaker today and make good weather of it.  Maybe that would be a good thing to get started on researching today, a real spinnaker.  I’ve been intrigued with the idea for quite some time to give ol’ Colony II better light air ability.  She’s a champion in a brisk breeze and a joy.  Light air makes a sailor reach for the ignition key far too often, the iron genny.  It will take some focus to get up to speed with what she’d need and what is well handled by one or two crew.

I’ve only ever owned and flown one spinnaker and that didn’t actually work out very well at all. 

That flawed attempt took place on the Chesapeake Bay just off Stingray point at the mouth of the Rappahannock River in choppy waters and a 25 plus knot breeze and me about the same age as the wind speed. It was a full size spinnaker already aboard when I bought Tamera, and as new to me as she was.  Newbie me didn’t register that it likely wasn’t a good idea to pop a spinnaker while sailing in small craft warning weather but the lesson was delivered swiftly.  My little wooden sloop built in Potsdam Germany in 1928 likely hadn’t been subjected to such flagrant set of canvas till now.  She seemed as astonished and caught off guard as I was as she rolled over on her beam, decks down and water pouring in the cockpit as she was literally dragged sideways through the water!  The next few events are memory glimpses of the jammed sheet line that had to be cut free, the terrified look on my first wife’s face as she clung to the near vertical cockpit for dear life and the giant sail half released flailing wildly but hung on something enough to hold air and crash us on, odd angled into the waves.   

The fiasco finally climaxed when I managed to round her up into the wind and wrap the flailing nylon around the forestay and drag it down. 

“Tamera” & Young Captain Bill

There was considerable damage to my ego and the spinnaker from this little ill-advised escapade and likely the reason that wife one became very reluctant about this sailing thing.  But some decades have passed now and I’m ready to give it a second shot and I don’t really wait for small craft warnings to go for a sail anymore, and I quite understand the meaning of light air sails now. 

Maybe we’ll come out the other side of this lockdown thing all the wiser about viruses that drag us sideways.  The spinnaker like pop it delivered certainly seemed to take us off guard, or maybe it was just the newness of the strain. 

No experience and an understandable naïve approach have taken us on a sideways drag through our former normal.  What no handshake you say? No hugs? … hell don’t even stand close and stay outside.  All your friends are dangerous and wear a hazmat suit to the grocery store. 

But we’ll get our wits about us. We have to, we can’t just go hide below when the gales come, we have to round up to the wind accept the damage, re-trim  and get back underway.  And we will, I’m convinced, and no we’ll not do things just like that again in my lifetime, at least I don’t think.  The last really disastrous pandemic was over a hundred years ago and we humans tend to forget. 

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Ok, trim her up and lets head back to port, clear up the damage and disruption below and on deck from nearly being turned upside down, and yeah things will be a little different.  

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Traditional sailboat anchored during a dramatic golden and blue sunset in Abaco Bahamas. The sailing Ketch Colony II off Powell Cay


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