Furler Follies

Categories Sailing Log

Our boat is tough…and I should take up bull riding.

This past Saturday, Jen and I headed out for the second sail of 2010. All of the work at Cedar Creek was complete, so the plan was to sail from there to Trixie’s (after a bit of an excursion) and then walk back to the get the truck and trailer to pull the boat. As we were getting the boat ready to leave the dock, a friendly sailor came up to us and asked if we were going to put a reef in. It sure didn’t seem like reefing weather, but we have new reefing lines so we rigged them up just for the practice. They’re easy enough to shake out. When we got out of the creek and into the bay, we were really glad that we had the reef in because it was blowing more than we expected.

We rolled out the jib on our new furler and we had a nice downwind sail. We had some trouble getting the jib to stay filled, so we ran wing on wing. Great time, smooth sailing, ate some sandwiches, all good.

When we got about as far as we wanted to go before having to turn around and beat back, we did something wrong. I’m not sure exactly how it went, but I guess we somehow tacked the jib in front of the forestay and then didn’t correct it quickly enough. I specifically maneuvered the boat so that we didn’t have to jibe the main, but since we were wing on wing we should have treated the jib as if were a jibe and didn’t. As we came around, the jib sheets got all tangled up in the sail and it was kind of a mess. The good thing was that we were in a relatively sheltered little spot at that point, so Jen went up and fixed it by hand. Problem solved…

On the way back, the wind and wave height really started to pick up, at least relative to our sailing skill level (although the forecast was for 12, people told me the next day that they were seeing numbers more like 22kts that day). As we neared the marina, it started getting really oppressive and annoying, so I decided to pull down the sails and just motor the rest of the way. I pulled on the furling line to get the jib in, but it wouldn’t budge.

A few seconds of investigation from the cockpit showed that it had also gone around the forestay when we got twisted up. We had fixed the jib sheets, but not the furling line. Except now we were out in the middle of the bay in a lot of wind. I didn’t want to send Jen up there, so I decided to go to the bow to unwrap it. I started up the motor so that we’d be able to power into the wind and carefully crawled forward.

While I was up there, Jen got confused and for some reason sheeted in the main and lost control, heading off the wind. We started heeling like crazy, and waves started breaking over me on the highly pitched deck, which really isn’t that big. I was seated with one foot on each side of pulpit, the furling line in my hand, a general will to live, and I rode that thing.

Jen was sort of screaming that she needed me to come back and take over the helm and I somehow made it back to the cockpit, scrambling across the windward windows and whatever I could hold on to, I guess. Neither of us can actually remember me getting back there, but I obviously did somehow. I released the main and headed up, and things got calm as quickly as they got squirrely.

While we’re not super proud of this episode, we did learn some things, not the least of which is that you can sail our boat pretty poorly, to the point where the jib is in the water and you’re bucking your skipper off the bow, and she won’t fully lay down.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."