Wednesday June 6, 2012
When I walked out the door at of work tonight around 4:30 it was very warm out but the sky was filled with lots of puffy clouds that the sun would poke in and out of, and off in the distance there were a few stormy clouds you could see rain falling down from. I was really hoping Muskegon was still clear (as the weather report said it should be) as this was the week I decided to trade in my water repellent jacket for just a regular fleece. Making the drive west and getting stuck in so much traffic I kept watching the sky to see if those dark clouds matched up to where I was driving. When the expressway ended into the main drags of Muskegon the direction of the waterfront looked clear although there was still one dark cloud passing overhead which dropped a little rain on me during my drive to the marina. It quickly passed though and when I reached the road the marina was on it was all sun. Knowing that I was already running late and all the parking spots near the marina were probably taken I just pulled into Torresen’s and left my car there while I ran down the street to Muskegon Yacht Club. It was already ten to six and I knew the boat pulled out of the dock at six. Hurrying down the platform I saw Island Dream was still there and Tom and Shannon were aboard waiving to me as usual. When I stepped on I saw the familiar face of Mark who raced two weeks ago and then a few new faces once again. Tom had brought his wife Denise out, as well has his son Michael. There was also one more new guy for me to meet, another Michael (B), who raced with Tom a lot and I recognized from ph0tos on Facebook. Everyone sat around talking for a little bit while we waited for the last crew member, Jules, to arrive. Once we all saw her hot pink Vans walking down the docks we started to get ourselves ready to leave and were gone just a few minutes after she climbed aboard.
Conditions were what I would consider perfect if I was out sailing my own boat, but not ideal for any high speed racing this time around. Winds were probably hovering around 10 knots and altough the sun had come back out temps were mid 70’s which had me wishing I had a light jacket instead of the fleece I brought which was leaving me chilled without it and too hot with it on. Looks like this girl has just a few more items to shop for even though I told myself I’m done because I have way more clothes than I’ll ever be able to pack into the few small bags I’ll have alloted. This night our division was starting second and we did give ourselves plenty of time to get on the water and our sails raised before even the five minute warning had gone off for the first division to start. There was a little scrambling to find a stopwatch to time ourselves out perfectly for our start and I was being used as a backup with my phone while Mark was also timing with something he found in the cockpit. After the first group left and we had five minutes until our own start we tacked and jibed a few times with the last one being 60 seconds before the start. I still can’t get used to how close these boats get to eachother and as the horn for the start of our division went off we actually had to move out of the way from boat that was supposed to give us the right of way but wouldn’t budge. Apparently we could have called them on it but Tom decided to let it go.
This is not the boat I was referencing above
Again I had no idea what direction we were heading but Shannon and I just hugged the high side while Michael B moved around a little to make sure we’d have the lines set up correctly for after we rounded the first marker and put up the spinnaker to go downwind. Then he joined us on the high side but would run back to the cockpit to assist with tacks while Shannon and I would help fling the headsail to the other side of the boat, I’d skirt it before sitting back down until the next tack. Not only were Shannon and I getting into a rythem near the bow but those working the lines in the cockpit appeared to have everything going smoothly as well. I was a little surptrised to find out Tom’s son Michael didn’t do much sailing, and since he was handling the main would have to have orders like ‘sheet/ease the main’ or ‘let out the traveler….the traveler is the one right infront of you’. For a beginner though he was doing great and we continued along at a good pace.
I was put on a job other than rail meat this week and just before we turned the marker to go downwind I ran below deck to help the spinnaker raise up through the forward hatch with ease and without getting stuck on anything while Shannon pulled the halyard to raise it near the mast. With the spinnaker issues we were having the previous week I could just see something going wrong and it all being my fault, but Michael B was up there to help me and let me know which corner was going to start pulling up first. I traced it back in the vberth to make sure it wasn’t snagged on anything and when they told Shannon to go I began shoving it through the hatch as fast as I could. It went up without incident and besides waiting just a moment for the wind to catch it perfectly the mission was a success and we were back on our way. The spinnaker was stationed on our port side and since the wind was starting to lose it’s strength instead of sitting on the high side we were now sitting on the low side, the same side the spinnaker was on, trying to heel it over in that direction and let the sail catch a little more wind. There were a few jibes performed while on the way to the second marker and each time it would swing gracefully from one side of the boat to the other. Since there were no high winds and no sail or boom vang mishaps tonight and everyone was in their groove it was almost like a pleasure cruise. The three of us upfront would dangle our legs off the side and enjoy the view and the beautiful night. I really should start paying more attention to what’s going on behind me in the cockpit though and to the sails and how they’re adjusted. It was after all the whole reason I started coming out, but after spending all my days cooped up inside or doing hard labor on my own boat it feels so nice to get outside and just enjoy life. I’ll pay attention next week, I promise.
After we had been traveling downwind for awhile and I saw the boats in front of us starting to make the sharp turn around maker 2 and lower the spinnakers I made my way below deck again to help bring the spinnaker in and have it stored in a mostly neat fashion until we were ready to use it again that night. Before we made our turn around the marker the headsail had been unfurled and we were all in position and ready. Michael stood just above me on deck and as we made the sharp turn ourselves Shannon lowered the sail just enough so that Michael could grab it from under the headsail and set about feeding it to me where I tried to keep it in as neat of a pile as possible. After we were set on our new course I made my way above deck to sit on the high side to repeat the whole experience again. Between all the divisions racing there was no one directly next to us, or in front or behind, that we were personally trying to beat. Although we were racing well Island Dream does best on a beam reach* while a lot of the other boats will try for close hauled upwind or a broad reach or run while downwind so we were on our own little course away from everyone else. There was one other boat in our division that was taking our wacky course as well but they always seemed to stay just out of reach. After two downwind runs and three upwind we crossed the finish line by the sandy dunes while the sun was getting close to disappearing behind their elevation.
This night it did not even take us getting back to the docks before food and drinks were brought out. I think this is due to having Denise on board and I thank her for it. The boys pulled out Bud Light Limes from the cooler while us girls enjoyed our dainty little Lime-A-Ritas. Denise had also brought sliced cheese and Triscuits and while all members of the crew were happily chewing away Tom thought it would be a great time to bring out the camera and get pictures of us trying to smile through cheeks full of food. Those photos may stay on Island Dream’s Facebook page and not make their way over to the blog. It was another day of great weather and great friends and Wednesdays are definitely becoming my favorite night of the week.
Ok, here’s just one
Race Results – Time Elapsed – 1:07:07 Average wind speed – 8 knots Average Boat Speed – 3.833 knots Distance – 5.2 miles
* A beam reach is when the wind is coming directly over the side or middle most (beam) part of your boat. A close reach is when the wind is coming as close over your bow as possible without going in irons (directly into the wind, a no sail zone). Broad reach is when the wind is coming over the back quarter of your stern, aroud 4-5 or 7-8 o’clock if you use the bow as 12, and running is when you are directly downwind.