I Got to the Shore Late…

Categories Sailing Log

I feel like that’s how all log entries have started recently. Again, I got to the shore late. It’s definitely gone past “coincidence” into “trend.”

I don’t know what else to say about that. I guess I’m just tired. Or some combination of tired, lacking energy, uninterested in normal activities, anxious, irritable, not sleeping well, eating like an idiot, and occasionally stuck in a swirling vortex of compounding negative thoughts that alternately make me want to either duck and cover or emigrate. It’s a damned miracle that I do anything at all, so getting to the shore late is more of a victory than it probably appears.

Sun Obscured by Cloud

When messing with the water tank in the previous weeks, I found that the sink in the head wasn’t working. I already had to replace the Whale Gusher Galley Pump in the other sink a few years ago and figured that the Whale Flipper Pump in the head is of a similar vintage and equally past its prime. I decided to take it apart to see if there was some obvious problem, knowing that there is a service kit for some of the more rubbery internals.

What I learned was:

  1. Oh boy, it’s a disaster in there. I was expecting a certain amount of generic schmutz, and that’s definitely present, but there’s also some truly nonsensical stuff going on (is that sand?) This should be taken apart and cleaned on a schedule far more aggressive than my standard “only upon complete failure.”
  2. I have almost no idea how this works. It’s got a piston in it that looks almost exactly like a rubber version of the piston in an engine, with the connecting rod and rings and a wrist pin and everything. It’s probably more accurately proportioned than your average piston tattoo, except that instead of the valve ports being in the cylinder head, the port is in the piston itself. It contains a metal ball that I assume gets in the way half of the time and acts as a valve. Calling it the “Whale Flipper Pump” made it sound like something cute from a children’s book, but internally it’s as if someone should be asking if “that thing got a Hemi?”

Past experience has taught me that there was not going to be a eureka moment until I could look at it with it with a diagram in hand, take it down to its principal parts, and lose one, so I bagged up the junk that I’d already ripped off of it and stashed it in my sailing bag for further review. I wrapped some tape around the hose that previously connected it to the water tank and clamped a pair of Vise-Grips to it to keep it from falling through the counter and started making preparations to sail.

Disassembled Whale Flipper Pump

When we had first arrived at the marina we ran into Capt. Mike, who said that he’d been sailing in the morning and that it was kind of a mess out there. I considered tucking in a reef, but all of my reports indicated that it was supposed to calm down throughout the afternoon, and we were pretty deep into the afternoon by the time we actually shoved off. At the mouth of the creek, I scanned the bay for signs of whitecaps but didn’t see any and hoisted the whole main sail.

Flat Horizon with Clouds to the Vanishing Point

With that and the full 135, we were right on the edge of comfort for a daysail—at least part of the time. The wind was highly variable in both speed and direction. I would later talk to the crew of Stormy Petrel, who said that this is common when the wind is predominantly from the northwest. I’m not sure I would have put that together on my own. That’s an unusual direction for us in general, and I guess it makes sense since there would be more opportunity for it to get disturbed coming straight off of the mainland instead of the ocean (although I have no idea if this is meteorologically sound). They also said that they noticed a lot of unusual boats out, and it was the same for us. We saw a J Boat (a J/95?) and something that I could have sworn was a Bermuda 40, neither of which are very common on our bay. We never got close enough to take a decent photo of the yawl, but we saw them a couple times flying jib and jigger. Just about everything out there was sailing with a more conservative sail plan than us.

Photo of a Boat that's Too Far Away

We started off sailing toward Toms River and soon began closing rapidly on a boat flying only a mainsail. I was about ready to turn around, but I really wanted to pass them first. I don’t know why I have this compulsion about passing all of the other sailboats. I think it may have been imbued in me by my priest. He used to take my family out on his Sabre, and although he was a man of god on land, when the collar was off and the wind was up, it was all scotch and hunting down slower boats. It would probably be disappointing to my parents to know that the main takeaways from my church experience were “sail fast” and that it’s hilarious when they call donkeys “asses” in the bible, but here we are. Pertinently, I think the relevant verse is, “He who chooseth to not fly his foresail, let him be passeth by the ass.” Given what I know about religion, this may be a really convoluted joke about circumcision, but I’ve got to take it at face value and recognize that I am that ass.

In this particular situation, the deep water was narrowing as we approached Marker 39 and I didn’t want to have to pass him and then immediately turn around in close quarters, so I got permission from Jenn to mark this down as a gimme. We waited for other traffic to clear and came about. Let him who sees that he is an ass turn the other cheek.

Approaching Another Sailboat Flying Only a Mainsail

Jenn took the helm and sailed us far down the bay on a reach. We practiced sailing to a compass heading. I thought that using the compass might be easier than “head for that little smudge on the horizon that could be a hazy clump of trees on an island 10 miles away.” She did well, especially considering the squirrelly conditions. It probably had nothing to do with the compass, although it does make me feel like Captain Ramius to wander around the stern and say, “Make your course 240.”

We eventually turned around and I took the helm again. The wind had clocked around, thwarting my plans to reach back toward the creek. Instead, we were close hauled.

Bashing Through Wave

On that leg, we came upon an O’Day sporting a tiny thong of a jib. I have only so much cheek to turn, so I passed him and we continued back to the marina.

Passing an O'Day

The wind did drop off, and we were fine without the reef. I could have also put one in and it also would have been fine, but eh, it was fun. I’ll work on getting to the marina at a more reasonable time. Or not. It’s not going to stress me out either way. Hopefully this conscious retrospection will remind me that I actually like sailing the next time I’m feeling like maybe I should just shelter in place.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."

3 thoughts on “I Got to the Shore Late…

  1. Chip, I always enjoy your posts – they are well-written and highly entertaining. Glad you’re back!

  2. Dude. It’s called PSOS pandemic soul oppression syndrome. You are not alone. You write well except for the random introduction of that Jenn character midway. Who dat? Hang in there. Maybe Rimas will set sail again soon and give us all a much needed distraction

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