Monday, April 14, 2008

The Battle at Sea

Well, this weekend went by pretty uneventfully as Damien and I were working on Sabina's car. We battled an overheating issue and everytime we conquered one part, something else would rear its ugly head. We were so excited at one point we totally forgot she overheated the hell out of it the previous night. Needless to say, we got stuck in traffic trying to test something, and drove it literally 20 minutes with no water in the engine! I LOVE Hondas!

Well Sunday came around and Sabina, Damien and I decided to go sailing. The forecast was looking good at 10-15kts of wind from the NW. This would be my first experience with a NW wind in the bay and hopefully will be one of my last.

The sail started off nice with a good beam reach that had us doing somewhere around 4.5 - 5kts. As we neared Red Bluff Point we decided to jybe and head downwind toward redfish island. As we were on a broad reach to a training run, we were making good time. GPS was registering around 5.5-6kts. While sailing downwind, it is sometimes hard to realize changing conditions. It feels like you are sailing slower and it feels like the wind is much less than it is. I started to notice the increasing size of the waves and we began surfing down the fronts of them doing a steady 7kts. At one point on a wave my GPS registered 9kts, which is really fast for my little boat. We headed off the wind a little as I was getting a little worried about my rudder snapping off and thats when we started to realize the wind had kicked up considerably. We bashed through it for a while until I decided that we really needed to reef the main and thank God I did when I did. The winds started blasting us, gusting to over 25kts. The waves were building considerably but we were still making good headway and everyone was having fun, especially Sabina. She was laughing and giggling her ass off at every pounding wave we slammed over sending water flying everywhere. I noticed that many of the sailboats had dropped their sails to jibs only or reefed mains and we were one of the only boats flying a single reefed main with a full 110% jib. It was uncomfortable but we were having fun so why back down now.

We decided it was time to fight our way back to Kemah and thats when I realized just how hard this was going to be. I could not point near high enough to get us toward the kemah channel and now the winds were gusting to 30kts at times. We tacked and tacked and just couldnt do it so I set our course straight out to Baytown and Red Bluff. We were slowly being drug out into the ship channel and further away from Kemah and making slow but steady headway against the horrible NW current and huge waves. The seas in the bay were easily around 3-4ft and very tightly packed making the going rough. We were still having fun but I was getting nervous about the rig as I could hear and see it shaking under the stress of the gusting winds. Finally we got our tack back to kemah were I could point high enough to get us in. It was a long beam reach through the seas, a few times literally dumping all the sheets and heading into the wind to rough out for a few seconds what seemed like damn near 35kts gusts, just roaring wind that would send us heeling over 30 degrees almost dead into the wind with all the sheets extreamly eased. I really could have used a 2nd reef point and a smaller 100% jib but I have neither and I was determined to maintain a somewhat balanced sail plan. Jib alone would have been much better but our pointing ability would have been greatly lowered.

We finally made it back in and headed back to my marina across the lake which also had a 2ft rolling chop, spraying us still all the way home. Im very impressed with the way the boat handled the waves and wind and I have much more confidence in her now as a result of that day. It also showed me still how much more work needs to be done to my boat so that she is rigged properly and correctly to make everything as easy as possible in those rough conditions. Being on deck was not a nice place to be during all of that trying to fix a damn reef if the sail, only to find out that it would not reef totally flat due to the boom height.

Anyways, now Im at work, sunburned and sore, but remembering yesterday and being proud. We were the only 2nd boat out with as much sail and eating sandwiches the whole way in haha. I saw way too many sailboats drop all sails and turn to motors, whats the fun in that?


Anonymous said...

I see you're still in TX, still revolting in your own ways (pun intended), still longing to get the hell out, but having some great times on the water and surfff while you slave at Fed Ex till--when do you leave for Mexico? I love your spirit. You'll get there! I'm up in Portland, OR now, and I love it here.
Kendall (aka Grannygold)

Anonymous said...

Need an update dude