Some great sailing and a Press Opportunity
The past few days, we have had late-afternoon attempts at thunderstorms; it looks like the weather may be beginning to start to try to get into the summer monsoon pattern. Friday evening, I met Pat and Tadpole at the marina, with the idea that we could go sailing, but a small thunderstorm was in the area, creating turbulent winds, so we just visited with people in the marina and set Black Magic up so we could go sailing Saturday.
Saturday, Pat ended up doing stuff around the cabin, in particular moving around some dirt, and also a few rocks, and we didn’t get to the marina until late afternoon. We had been in contact with a reporter from a Santa Fe newspaper (let’s call her Lois Lane), and we knew she and her preteen daughter (Cub) were planning on coming up to Heron to do a feature story on sailing and the lake in general; she had called to say her tent’s zipper had broken, and so we were going to set up our MacGregor, Syzygy, so they could camp on it.
When we got to the marina, Lois and Cub hadn’t arrived yet, so we decided to take Black Magic out for a late-afternoon sail. We started in extremely light air, but just as we were leaving the dock, the wind came up. It was stiff as we tacked against it up the Narrows, although not as stiff as the previous time. When we got out to the main body of the lake, the wind was probably about 10-15 knots, and the boat was flying. We sailed out around the island (the wind-warning beacon was flashing, but the wind itself didn’t feel too bad) and then back to the marina. As we were approaching the Narrows, the wind subsided, and when we were about two-thirds through the Narrows, the wind died completely. The sun had gone down, and I didn’t have my non-sun glasses on the boat, so we had to get back to the dock before it got dark; we found ourselves forced to stick the motor in the water and run it.
When we got back to the marina, we found Lois and Cub had arrived and had enjoyed socializing with the other sailors hanging about – the past commodore and her husband were serving as dockmasters (the club runs the marina and keeps fees down by not having a full-time professional dockmaster, but rather requires each slip-holder to spend half a week as dockmaster or pay someone else to do so) – and the past commodore had apparently told Lois of some adventures she and I had had together.
We helped Lois and Cub to get settled on Syzygy, and then we all hung out at the marina pavilion for a while. The Vice Commodore had brought a bottle of very excellent single-malt Scotch to share (there’s a reason his boat is named Highlander), which was an excellent end to a very good day.
Saturday night, Lois had told us that she and Cub like to sleep late, so Sunday morning Pat moved some rocks around and did some laundry, and we didn’t get to the marina until around noon. Lois and Cub had borrowed our and the Vice Commodore’s kayaks and gone out paddling. As they were returning from their paddling trip, we got Black Magic ready to sail. There were some thunderstorms approaching, but I figured we could get a brief sail in, even if it was just tacking up the Narrows and then coming right back again.
Lois was especially thrilled to be going out on the racing boat, and Cub was excited, too. Since some good breezes were brewing, we hitched the motor up out of the water, and we launched toward the Narrows. At first, the wind was really light and fluky, but then it came in stiffer, and both Lois and Cub enjoyed tacking – they very quickly got into the rhythm of ducking under the mast to get to the new uphill side of the boat. Lois took a lot of pictures, and Pat and I explained a lot of the basics of sailing, such as how sails are trimmed tight when sailing close to the wind, but looser when sailing off the wind. We also talked a little about some of the other strings on the boat, although we didn’t get into a whole lot of detail.
We did have one encounter with some boaters in a rented powerboat who were, perhaps, not familiar with the rules of the road – a sailboat under sail usually has the right of way over a powerboat. We came within a foot of colliding with the other boat, but we already needed to tack anyway, so we just did that. Lois says she got a really good shot of the panicked expressions on the faces of the powerboaters as our mighty black boat surged toward them and then suddenly turned away.
All the while that we were tacking out of the Narrows, Lois and Cub were just having a ball. Pat and Tadpole were working on sail trim so the boat would keep stability, although they didn’t need to do so much since Lois and Cub worked really well as rail meat to keep the boat steady. When we got out of the Narrows into the main body of the lake, we even got a chance to explain the concept of “rail meat” – that in a racing boat in higher winds, having crew members to sit on the uphill side of the boat helps to steady the boat so it can go faster without depowering the sails. That was certainly working for us – even though Lois is slender and Cub doesn’t amount to much at all, their extra weight did help to steady the boat and keep it going fast.
Unfortunately, the feeling wasn’t to last. Just after we got out into the main lake, the thunderstorms moved in, and we had lightning and seriously gusting winds. We headed back through the Narrows to the marina. It was beginning to rain as we got into the slip (under sail, of course – the motor is only for emergencies).
Afterward, as the rain fell, we sat in the marina pavilion, swapping stories about sailing, while Lois took notes and Cub helped Tadpole with some sail repairs. It will be interesting to see what eventually comes out in the newspaper. But I know for sure Lois and Cub really had a ball sailing on Black Magic, so I believe that part of their adventures will get a positive review. Both Lois and Cub have reported that they really, really, want to come sailing some more, and we’ve extended an invitation to them to come and participate in the club’s Fourth of July festivities.
After Lois and Cub left, we went and had lunch at the Stone House; on the way there, we looked at the lake from a couple of places on the southern shore. The wind had kicked up, to the point that there were not only whitecaps but also some serious waves. The lake really looked like the ocean. The people at the Stone House told us that the State Parks folks had issued a warning and requested that they call in all the rental boats. The wind continued to whip as we had our rather late lunch.
Apologies if this post is late. I’ve been trying to post it, but my ISP’s local dial-up number isn’t working. It’s an inconvenience that one deals with in exchange for the privilege of being where life doesn’t demand much of one. There was a power failure Saturday night, and I’m guessing somebody needs to reset something, and probably the somebody who is able to reset something is off for the weekend and will be back Monday.