Lazy day

by Chuck May 16, 2010

We got the boat out for our first sail this weekend. We didn’t have much wind so it turned out to be a perfect day for getting the new motor in the water and getting started breaking it in.

The day started off normally. I got the boat ready to go while Dana and the kids did chores around the farm and packed the food and drinks. Joey helped me rig the halyards and the topping lift, he’s getting good at leading the lines through the maze of standing rigging that’s on the deck when the mast is down.

After getting the truck and the boat loaded up we headed down to Everett. As we left Monroe we fell in behind 40-ish foot boat that was being hauled by a semi, complete with a lead car and a follow car. Traffic was backed up considerably behind us, and we laughed about how the people who were passing us were going to be surprised when they found out that the sail boat was not the cause of the backup.

We made it down to the waterfront in good order and stopped at West Marine to pick up a new PFD for Dana. Her old one got damp over the winter and ended up with mildew all over it. She picked up a new pair of sun glasses too.

We headed back to the 12th street launch to rig and launch the boat. The economy is hitting the state’s recreation services pretty hard – with revenue down the state is putting as much money into the parks, so the launch fees were up, and they’ve added a parking fee to the facility as well. Last year it was $5.00 to launch and park, this year it was $11.00 to launch and park on the weekend. It’s only $8.00 on weekdays, but since I’ve only sailed on a weekday once, I’m not sure that’s going to be much benefit to me.

Once we were at the launch ramps we found out that we had hit the ramps at the bottom of a –2.6 tide. The trailer was off the end of the concrete ramp before Odyssey floated free. On the next ramp over a man was launching a 26-foot fishing boat, his truck was off the end of the ramp before the boat floated free – luckily he had 4-wheel drive and could pull himself back up the ramp. Katie helped me bend on the sails and then we headed out into the river, puttering along with the new motor.

We headed out into the river and headed upstream to give the motor some running time. Typically it takes around 15 minutes to get from the boat launch to the mouth of the river, I wanted to have the engine run for 30 minutes or so this first time so I could give it a chance to warm up and start the break-in. As we left the launch I had Joey lower the keel, he had it about 2/3 of the way down when we suddenly stopped – the water level was so low we had less then 5 feet of water under the keel. Joe cranked the keel up and I backed us out ‘til we were free, then I ran straight across the river to the channel before heading upstream again.

We drug the keel across the bottom one other time while we were motoring in the river. I’ve never run aground before, and I managed to do it twice in one day on this trip. Of course, “run aground” is a relative term on Odyssey. We draw 5 1/2 feet with the keel down, but only 18 inches with the keel up. If I hit the bottom we just crank the keel up ‘til we’re free, then head for deeper water.

And usually we don’t worry about running aground at all. Out on Possession Sound there is 75 to 100 fathoms of water under the boat most of the time. It’s only in the river that we need to worry about the depth.

Anyway, the trip out was uneventful. There was so little wind and so little traffic that the mouth of the river, normally a washing machine of chop, was almost flat. We motored out a ways and raised the sails. At first we had enough wind to move the boat along at about 3 knots, but pretty soon it fell to nothing and we were going nowhere at all.

I fired up the motor and we chugged over toward the flats off Jetty Island. Along there we found a bit of breeze and Dana sailed us a couple of miles north along the flat. When we tacked around we ran out of breeze again, so I started the motor one more time and we motored around ‘til it was time to come in.

The weather was fluky all day. There were clouds moving over head but they kept going to the east until they pushed up against the foothills. To the west it was a warm, sunny day – to the east it was dark grey and forbidding.

Around 3:00 the weather took a turn for the worse so I turned us around and started in. By the time we got into the river it was starting to rain, so I struck the sails and the halyards as we cruised up the river – by the time we were at the boat launch we were ready to go on the trailer as soon as the motor ran the fuel out of the carburetor and the rudder was out of the water.

After that we got the boat ready to head home and drove back to Monroe. The closer we got to home the worse the weather became until we ran into Monroe in a thunderstorm.

Not a bad first sail, and I think the first time we’ve been in the water before the end of May. Looking ahead on the calendar there’s not a lot of free weekends, but I’m sure we’ll get at least one more chance to sail before we head over the Lake Chelan.



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