I think we’re becoming sailing wussies.
The NOAA forecast was the usual 5-10kts, which we’ve come to disregard completely, but the wind gauge at Trixie’s was reading 0-11kts for the recent range with gusts to 16 or so. For the first time in a long time, we decided to hoist the mainsail.
It had actually been so long since we last used the main, Jen remarked that she had forgotten how to prep the sail, but she got it figured out quickly. The wind was blowing straight off the land, so we had a bit of a drive under motor to get somewhere where we could get our bow pointed into the wind to raise the sail, winding up in the mouth of the Cedar Creek. The halyard somehow got twisted around in front of the spreader, so Jen had to go up and coax if off before we could raise the sail, and when we finally got it raised I immediately got us turned on a beam reach with the main sheet tightly fastened in the “the boom is on the pigtail” position, tipping us over obnoxiously far before I could get the main uncleated and the boat pointed back into the wind. Of course while this was going on, our sailing teacher (or maybe his wife, we couldn’t tell) were blowing by effortlessly on Retro and our fenders were still hanging out, probably making us the subject of several “what not to do” lectures.
We collected ourselves and I convinced Jen to let us put out a half a jib. Everyone else out there was flying the kitchen sink, and although I realize that peer pressure is not a good reason to endanger yourselves, I feel like we need to push ourselves a little to get over the lingering effects of the knockdown (or near-knockdown, whatever it was). It’s not like it was a gale, and part of the reason for getting the roller furler was so that we could put it away if things got out of hand.
The sail down to Forked river was fine, and we were going very fast (for us). The keel cable was screaming the whole time and I don’t think we’ve ever seen the lighthouse get so big so fast. I noticed that the clouds were getting a little thick, and I don’t know what the water depth very well past Forked River (we were well out of the channel at this point, near the middle of the bay where I think the water becomes thin on the approach toward the Sedge Islands), so I thought we should tack and head back.
Heading back, the winds picked up, and it started to become a lot of work to keep the boat on course. I think maybe we had the wrong amount of jib out, I think maybe none of our sails were trimmed all that well, and I think most of all, that our rudder had kicked up a little bit. We’ve been having problems with our rudder getting stuck when launching from the ramp, and although it was certainly all the way down once we got out of the marina, having it take it up and down all the time is making it a little loose and allowing it to kick up a bit while sailing. I can’t be certain of any of these guesses, but she was definitely a lot of work and we decided to bag it.
While putting the boat back on the trailer, we got it all the way to the point where the hull started resting on the bow roller when the bow roller promptly disintegrated and disappeared into the murky depths (it’s about 6″ deep there, but I couldn’t find any of the flotsam and/or jetsam). Of course by that point, two boats were queued behind us, so it took the combined efforts of the entire fleet to pull our boat backwards off the trailer, around the other boats, and around the corner to the end of the dock where she could be secured while plans B, C, D, and so on were enacted.
We were after closing time for the marina, and the remaining folks didn’t have a lot to add regarding rollers, but West Marine Toms River was open for another 40 minutes, so depending on traffic, we might have made it. Although I’m on a first name basis with the man there who cuts my ropes and makes fun of my chart selection (I don’t own a sextant, bro. I just need to know if my keel will touch in the area between these two OBVIOUS water towers on land, but I digress), we checked Lacey Marine, who was open even later and was much closer. If Jen and I were playing The Price is Right (with Bob Barker, not that Drew Carey nonsense) I would have won both showcases because I came in just under the out-the-door price and she was way over.
So now back to the marina. My Little Tykes tool kit didn’t have anything of use in getting the old axle off of the chunk of galvanized steel that held it, and it wasn’t even until I took a close look at the replacement axle that we’d just bought that I understood that it was held on with some kind of press-fit craziness. I thought that maybe Tom from Cedar Creek would still be around with his truck ‘o tools, so we gave that a shot. The truck was in the driveway, but some folks who were there told me he was gone for the day. Curious, these fellow sailors allowed me to work into our most recent tale of woe, and one of them happened to have a hacksaw and vice grips on his Sabre. We got to talking and when he went through what boats he’d owned, to which I replied, “Oh, are you Val?” That was probably pretty weird for him since we clearly didn’t know each other but for some reason I knew every boat he’d owned since the 70s (his wife runs the marina’s sundries shop and she’d given me the same report upon hearing that we owned a Catalina 22).
I couldn’t believe that this guy got up from his beer to help a stranger hack saw apart some crappy trailer component and then hammer a new one on with his vice grips, but I was really glad that he was willing to help a fellow sailor and thanked him as best I could short of hugs or money.
So I’m not sure where that left us on our daily sailing score card. We put up our sails, but we weren’t really happy about it, and we took more from the sailing karma pool by requiring the help of others, but did do a pretty quick turnaround on repairing our trailer and not having to leave the boat in the water overnight.