Whitecaps and White Knuckles

Monday September 5, 2011

Sunday morning we woke up to a tradition we like to call ‘Let’s make at least one day of the holiday weekend (usually Sunday) totally crappy and un-enjoyable’, weather-wise at least’.  Two years ago this resulted with a nice scar above my knee cap from when the tiller on the Hunter had wildly swung across the stern and over my leg.  Someone (um, me) had forgotten to secure it with a bungee cord. This year with the curse we had gone from sunny and 80 with light breezes the day before to 60’s, still sunny, but very windy.  Not that we did have any grand plans for the day, they all involved working on the new dinghy.  Now that we had brought it up on deck we wanted to make sure that all areas were water tight.  This included the area around the drain, and well as the holes we’d be drilling in to attach the wheels from our previous dinghy.  First and foremost we had to drill those holes so they could be epoxied before we could drill them a second time for wheels and screws.  Out came tape measures, straight edges, pens and sharpies.  Surprisingly the movement on deck from the wind wasn’t terrible and didn’t affect our stability.  Wheels were held, lines were drawn, and holes were made.

Ready to get to work

After everything was drawn and drilled came the fun part.  Matt had not informed me that we’d be working with it over the weekend and I had not brought any ‘dirty’ clothes with me, so I tried to assist him while keeping as much distance as possible.  I learned the hard way a few winters ago while we were making our nesting dinghy what happens when epoxy gets on your clothes and I had to say bye bye to one of my favorite fleeces.  Making sure to keep our deck clean above everything else I had gone below to grab a beach towel to put underneath the work to catch any dripping epoxy.  The rest of my job was just doing things like pouring colloidal silica (a kind of thickening powder/dust) to the mix of liquids, or constantly running below deck to dispose of paper towel before it could blow across the deck and ruin the finish.  It ended up being a much quicker project than I expected, and after a thorough cleaning all we could do was wait for it to harden which would take overnight.

Everything’s drilled and filled

She’s so pretty…..and so big!

There wasn’t much else we could do for the rest of the day.  It wasn’t nice enough to want to spend time on deck or in the cockpit so we kept ourselves below, going back and forth from watching movies, reading books, and napping.  Dinner was warmed up hot dog and hamburger that we had swiped the day before and of course more frozen snickers.  Since we already used up the Netflix movies we’d just gotten in I’d started going through our collection of DVDs at home.  Coming up to the end of the book after going ‘meh’ to half the collection I came across a movie that we’ve had for years, is a classic in a lot of people’s eyes, and have gotten a lot of slack over the years for never having watched before, and that was Tommy Boy.  We popped it into the DVD player that night, all snuggled up in bed for the third day in a row, and Matt prematurely belting out a lot of the well known lines.  Maybe it was because I was expecting a lot after all the years of hype or because humor was different in the 90’s than it is now but I didn’t find it as funny as everyone made it out to be.  Kind of a let down in my book.  Sorry to disappoint all of you that have it in your top 5 of all time.  Who knows though, maybe it just takes a few viewings before it starts to grow on you.  I know the same thing happened with me and Anchorman.  And now that I think about it, is probably the Tommy Boy of the 2000’s.

The plan for the next morning was to finish work on the dinghy before my family came out to spend the day with us.  This was after being woken up a few times in the very early morning because of the wind trying to get under it and lift it off the deck even though we though we had it secured.  So after a few times of getting up, rearranging, and trying to go back to sleep we finally got up for good just before 10:00.  Matt had gone above deck to check on the epoxy and when he came back down he said that temperatures must have been too cold through the evening and overnight because the holes were still a little tacky to the touch instead of completely hard as they should have been.  I panicked for a slight second thinking that as soon as it was placed in the water it would start pouring through the holes and we had no way of getting off the boat until it did in fact harden.  Matt assured me that it was still solid enough to keep water out, just not hard enough to be able to finish our intended project.

This gave us an extra hour to clean up before my parents and brother came.  It’s surprising how quickly that space can turn into a disaster.  It doesn’t take much, a pair of pants thrown across the settee, and un-made bed, and a few groceries sitting on the counter for the place to look like a total mess.  The good news is it usually cleans up just as easily.  Since we now had a larger dink to cart everyone around in, I jumped in with Matt to go to shore once my parents called to say they were close.  Again my brother was meeting us out separate but wouldn’t be able to use the excuse of getting lost for coming in much later than everyone else.  Knowing that he was about 20 minutes behind my parents the four of us made the run up to Subway to grab lunch for everyone.  The timing worked out perfect and as soon as we were pulling back into the marina with our food, my brother was just behind us.  Loading everyone into the dink  we brought my family out for their third trip aboard Serendipity.

As we were getting everything loaded our friends Tom and Connie from s/v Andiamo noticed we were out and stopped to talk.  When we were on their boat in July they had gone on about their new RIB and now much they loved it and noticed that we had just gotten one of our own.  While Matt was going over details with them I stocked everything below and dug into my sandwich as soon as I had the green light since I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was starving.  It didn’t take us long to clean our wrappers and go through a bag of chips.  We were ready to unhook our lines and do a little sailing.  Although temperatures had gone up a bit from the previous day to high 60’s there was still a good 20-25 knots blowing across the lake and making it cold enough for everyone but Matt to put on some kind of long sleeves.

Since we didn’t have all day to travel around we decided to stay on the small lake and just ride up and down it a few times.  With winds as strong as they were and not wanting to go through the hassle of uncovering the main we just unfurled the genoa which was more than enough to carry us along that day.  For awhile we had just set the autopilot to start carrying us toward the East (far) end of the lake when my dad decided he’d like a shot at steering.  Disengaging auto we showed him what course to keep and to try not to deviate too far from it so the sails wouldn’t have to be trimmed.  He caught on very quickly and was a pro behind the wheel.

Way to go Dad!!

Even with just the genoa up we were getting a steady 6 knots of speed.  Even my brother, who’s dream it is to own a power boat that he can hit 70 mph in, was surprised at how fast that would feel while on a sailboat.  Headed down to the East side it was a comfortable ride although there would be a wave every now and then which would catch the bow and send a little spray into the cockpit.  After coming about to start our way back to the other end, the wind was hitting us on a close reach and giving the boat a constant heel of about 15 degrees.  I  remember when anything over 10 used to make me uneasy but now 15 is nothing to me.  Matt was completely comfortable with it, and my dad a and brother were wedged into the leeward side enjoying the ride.  Then I look over to see my mom with a white knuckle grasp making sure that she was not going to slide out of her spot and over the railing on the other side.  I had forgotten that she wasn’t much for thrill rides and the heavy winds plus the building waves and spray off the water and now a non fully upright vessel, I had a feeling that she’d enjoy the afternoon much better if we were safely attached to the mooring.  Taking the wheel from Matt I suggested we head back in.

Thinking we could spend the next hour or two slightly out of the wind and enjoying a few cocktails.  Somehow it happened that we went through our last beers while cruising up and down the lake and all that was left on board were two coke zeros.  Not very appetizing.  I suggested we hit up one of the bars on the strip for a quick drink before all of us had to start making our separate ways home.  There had been a place a few miles up the road with a cute outdoor sitting area that I’d always drove past and wanted to check out.  Matt and I hopped in a car with my parents while my brother followed behind.  When the five of us walked in we were a little surprised as the inside was dark and dank and completely different from the sunny yellow exterior.  Luckily directly across the street was another pub that we figured would at least have a decent booth to seat us all in.  Same story when we walked in the door.  Very small with a bar and a few tables.  Not wanting to drive miles to find another place we pushed two small tables together and took a seat while we waited for a server to come by and take our order.  We stayed long enough for two rounds and some delicious onion rings while we enjoyed the five of us being together since it only happens once or twice a year.  In late afternoon when my parents needed to get back to their hotel to start packing and my brother needed to make his way back to the Detroit area we said our goodbyes.

Two years of less than perfect sailing weather while out with my family, but if that means saving it up for one perfect weekend in the Bahamas or Panama or New Zealand when we can all meet up again I think it will be worth it.

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