sailing class – part 3 of 6

For this week’s class, Jennifer and Eric had apparently just flown back into town and were too tired to attend class.  Bruce was there though and it turns out  that last week he had a dead battery that had prevented him from making it.  He made up for last week’s class by joining the 1pm class this week as well.  So with just three hands aboard, we set sail.

George was a bit bummed that he’d have to actually work for this class instead of just sitting back and being the instructor.  Although a boat of this size can be crewed with two people, it helps if those two people actually know what they’re doing.  We cleared the marina and set our sails with a stiff breeze out of the west.  The wind was strong enough that we were concerned about executing jibes; if the main crosses too hard it can cause damage to the mast and rigging.

The other change this week is that the Columbia has finally started to drop.  Wing dams that were previously submerged were now visible above the water.  The current was noticeably slower and we set out to get past the 205 bridge, a distance of some four miles.  We made it there in about an hour and a half, then came about to head back to the marina.

With the winds it wasn’t hard to put the boat on a pretty steep heel, definitely putting the gunnel in the water and a few times we even got to the windows.  With the boat tipped at an angle of 20+ degrees, it takes a bit to get comfortable with it and gusts would cause the boat to ‘weather up’, or turn into the wind even with the tiller as far as we could.  After a while, we heaved to, then reefed the main, dropping it about 2′ and tying it off to reduce the amount of exposed sail.  This helped to make the boat more controllable as we finished the trip back to the marina, where we found that the motor would not remain running.  We spent some time trying to troubleshoot; overheating, fuel, oil mixture, nothing we could fix on the water so George brought us into the slip using just the jib since we had a wind that was favorable to do so.  His years of experience resulted in getting into the dock almost as if we were using the motor.

We’ll not be sharing any of this information with Jennifer and Eric because if we did, we’re sure that they’d also want to do these things and neither is an experience that the rest of us want to repeat.