A funny thing happened after we got the boat home. Instead of spending every waking moment there, like we thought we would, we actually spent less time with the boat. It just seemed that once the boat was safe home and nearby that we had other things to do. After all, the boat was so close now – “we’ll go there later” seemed like something we were saying all the time. Mind you, we still did a lot of sailing just not as much as we had planned.

The one big trip we took that first summer was to the 40 year Alberg reunion in Whitby, Ontario. That’s about 37 nautical miles away, past Pickering where we had come from. The trip there was relatively uneventful, with light airs (lights winds) and smooth water. We really enjoyed the sail down. We were running downwind so we were able to tie the sails off wing on wing (that means the jib on one side of the boat and the main on the other.) This makes for a level deck and also the ability to balance the sails so the tiller can be tied off and the boat just sails itself. We did this for much of the trip, allowing us to spend time together sitting up at the bow of the boat and I even got to wash the decks down while underway. Eventually, a couple of miles out we had to start the engine and motor as the wind had dropped off. We had a great time there – met lots of great people and got to see lots of wonderful Albergs. The Great Lakes Alberg Association includes all the Alberg line of boats, the 22, 29, 30 and 37. It is really a truly vibrant community.

The Saturday evening weather forecast for Sunday was not good. Winds and rain were predicted so a number of the boats left Saturday night for a night sail home. We should have do that too. Sunday morning we awoke late to find that most of the boats with any distance to sail were already gone and that the day was gray and stormy. The Alberg is built for this type of weather so we did not worry about the boat – however, the sailors were not built as sturdy. When we got out of the Whitby harbour we found 6 foot waves and a lot of wind. On top of that we had rain – lots of it.

About half a mile out of the harbour, I made the bad decision to go down below to take readings from the map to set into the handheld GPS unit. I had never been seasick before so I did not expect it. Within about two minutes of being down below I was about to blow chunks. I quickly gathered up the maps and GPS and got out on deck but by then the damage had been done. My stomach was upset and I had a massive headache for the rest of the trip. Funny, A. was, I guess, 6 months pregnant at the time so she had an excuse to feel off, I on the other had had no good excuse and was as sick as her. I don’t think that either of us actually lost our lunches but we still both felt really crappy.

To make matters worse, for some reason in my mind we had to set a course that went as directly as possible to our destination. That is fine, except when the seas (waves) prefer you to sail on a slightly different tack (direction) as was the case that day. If I had changed the sailing direction slightly I could have eliminated much of the rolling and pitching which was making us so sick. Then, once we got close to home I could have just changed course to take us directly into harbour. But alas, my inexperience gave us a real lousy trip home.

As a grand finale to that trip, just as we were motoring into the harbour, about 100 meters from the entrance the engine quit. Thank goodness we still had the main sail up. (I was at the mast but had not dropped it yet.) We whipped the boat around and headed away from shore under sail till we could find out what was wrong with the motor. That turned out to be one of the better decisions we made that day. After all the most dangerous thing to a boat out on the water is land. Its made to take the water and wave, but not the dirt. Anyway, the engine would restart but as soon as we put it into gear it would stall out again. As we tried to figure out what was wrong I saw with dismay, one of our bow lines trailing off into the water. Sure enough, we had wrapped the bow line around the prop on the engine. Normally this is disaster as usually the only was to get the line off is to dive under the boat and cut it off. With the boat in 6 to 8 foot waves there was no way I was going to be able to dive for it. However, as we eased the engine from reverse to neutral to forward all the while pulling on the line, low and behold off spun the line and we were free. (I’ve talked to a number sailors that have wrapped lines around props and none have ever had one come free before.) We quickly pointed the boat for home and motored with out event back to our slip. And that was our first major trip and weather on our boat all rolled into one.

Stay tuned for a “Bad Anchor Job”

"First Summer with a Sailboat" by was published on December 20th, 2005 and is listed in Uncategorized.

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Comments on "First Summer with a Sailboat": 2 Comments

  1. Anonymous wrote,

    “The Alberg is built for this type of weather so we did not worry about the boat – however, the sailors were not built as sturdy. When we got out of the Whitby harbour we found 6 foot waves and a lot of wind. On top of that we had rain – lots of it.”

    That’s very true in many cases, as the ships are often far more rugged and seaworthy than their masters. In the 1979 Fastnet, many ships that were abandoned by the sailors—who thought they were going to sink—were found later floating quite happily.

    If you ever hit really bad weather, trust your ship. If you’ve taken care of her, she will take care of you in return.

  2. Strathy wrote,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Very true. We rewatched Yves Gelinas video of his circumnavigation on his Alberg Jean-du-Sud again recently and were struck at how much of the time he was down below during bad weather. Batten the hatches and wait it out seemed to be his method of dealing with rough weather.

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