Sailing with Michael

Categories Sailing Log

My friend Michael came down for a sail.

It hadn’t occurred to me that he had never been on this boat. He sailed with me a couple times on the first Fortuitous, including once in 2009, only a few months after I’d started sailing. One of the advantages of keeping a boat log is that I can look up these sorts of things, although the early logs aren’t all that great, and I think I may have been intentionally ambiguous about a lot of the details because the things I actually remember from those trips are not in the logs. It’s remarkable that I remember anything at all; I was still perfecting my daiquiri recipe in those days, which required an awful lot of experimentation.

There wasn’t a whisper of wind at the marina. Michael texted me to say that he’d be a little late, so I drove up to Berkeley Island to see if there was any wind out on the bay. It looked like there was enough to push us around, so I went back and prepped the boat to sail.

He arrived shortly thereafter and we shoved off. We motored out of the creek and raised the sails as soon as we could turn into the wind, which was generally to the south. There was more wind than I thought, and as we sailed into it, it continued to build. It was almost to the point where I would have put a reef in (at least for leisure sailing), but by that point we were hungry and I had got us into a less-traveled portion of the bay, so we just heaved-to and ate lunch.

It’s irritating to me that I didn’t properly log our sail in 2009. The log that exists is mostly about how we didn’t know how to reef our mainsail. While that was true, there were a lot of other things that we didn’t know how to do. Perhaps most notably, we didn’t know how to use our porta-potty. It was a strange contraption, with far too many moving parts for me to have any faith in its ability to seamlessly convert from commode to briefcase of human excrement. The thought of having to dump it or clean it still makes me gag a little today, and at the time, it was basically a receptacle of last resort. But between the beer and rum, there were certain eventualities that could not be avoided.

A Photo Michael took that day in October 2009
A Photo Michael took that day in October 2009

I couldn’t very well pee over the side with Michael and his girlfriend present, so in the sort of “stupidity masquerading as genius” moment that alcohol provides, I decided that I’d go below and use a bucket(?). The 22 had approximately 3ft of headroom, so I assumed the stance of a catcher expecting a pitch low and outside and found relief. I recall having a clear and fully-formed vision of whisking this open pail of urine back to the cockpit and sending it overboard in one motion, so smoothly that no one would even notice. Mid-whisk, however, it caught on the keel cable winch handle, which caused the contents to slosh in such a way that one drop escaped the bucket, traveled in a parabolic arc through space and time, and landed directly in Michael’s mouth.

Steve Allen said that tragedy plus time equals comedy, and this tragedy needed a lot more time.

Back in the present, things were a little more civilized. We ate hoagies and drank Sanpellegrino Limonata and talked while hove-to. The wind had continued to pick up and I considered a reef, but Michael had to get back and it was going to be all downhill, so I just tacked the jib and we were off, sailing fast on a broad reach back toward the creek.

That liftboat from the previous log entry was still out there doing its thing, but I gave them plenty of room this time.

Sailing off the wind with the liftboat in the distance

We took the sails down as we approached the creek and motored in without incident.

Docking with Michael on the Bow

2009 seems so long ago. A completely different era in so many ways, like it should be remembered in black and white. Not only can I reef, but I also know that sometimes it’s better to just turn around and sail fast off the wind with full sails. I’m glad that Michael will still sail with me. And I’m glad that I can go pee-pee in the potty like a big boy.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."