The First Time Solo

Lots of people are surprised when I say I intend to sail by myself. They think it's changing sails that's the hard part, or steering, or staying awake. While sail handling has its memorable moments, the really nerve-racking bit is 'parking'. Imagine parking your car, only the road underneath you actually moves, all the time -- there's a current -- and on top of that your car can be blown by the wind. Now to make it really interesting there is no brake -- all you can do is accelerate, decelerate, or coast. Just to top it off, you have to tie your car to the parking lot to secure it, using 5 ropes. If you're lucky the ropes are provided, are all just the right length, and all you need to do is pick them up and attach them. If it isn't your regular parking lot you have to supply the ropes and trim them to the right length. All that and make sure the boat stays put while you do it. Remember the current, the wind — and it weighs 10 tons!

I gotta say I am so impressed with how it worked out. Sorry fellow sailors this is surely something you already know, but for me it was the first time. In the past, my boat has always been light enough that I could just secure a line to the boat, jump off, secure it to the pontoon and manhandle the boat from there. But past boats were half the weight. So it was time to test the theory of how to secure a boat in a marina pen. The theory says that you stay on the boat, pickup just the aft spring line as you pull up, secure it, then gently motor forward against the spring using the rudder to manouever the boat close to the pontoon so you can pick up and secure the remaining lines. Never done it before. Guess what? It worked. I had it easy though, there was only about 10 knot cross-wind and no current to speak of. Easy!

So a few days later I get up late and guess what? Sunshine! Beautiful, warm sun. I had planned on cleaning, but sod that, this is a perfect day to take the boat out. After a coffee and some porridge I back out of the pen and off we go. The breeze is about 10 knots, just enough to sail.

This is the first time I've hoisted the sails and I can't say it went smoothly, but conditions were perfect for mucking about and working out a way to do it. Eventually I had the main and genoa set and off we went at about 4 knots. The breeze held for a couple of hours — enough to get to the 'Iron Pot', a lighthouse at the head of the river, at the entrance to Storm Bay. At this point the other two boats I was 'racing' headed off to the d'Entrecasteaux Channel, while I bore away and started the engine for the trip home as the breeze died to nothing.

I am not a 'born' sailor. I know people who learned to sail when they were kids and everything seems just natural for them. It isn't like that for me. I first sailed in my 20's and though I have sailed quite a few miles over the years, I still need to think everything through. For me, sailing is a head thing as much as anything. So, viva la head!


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    Well done Dave!

    It reminds of the time I was sailing with my Dad. He was in his late 70's and I learned how to sail by reading a book.

    We were coming into his mooring outside his house and the motor spluttered to a stop. I had to recall how to pick up the mooring line and then "stop the boat". We certainly didn't have time to get the line attached before it was too short, so stopping the boat was critical.

    I'd practiced stopping the boat when we in clear water, so we did it again and it worked!

    I can't remember the technical name for "stopping the boat", or exactly how to do it, but do I remember it involved crossing the 2 sails against each other.

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    It's raining in Maldon. People visiting Maldon market have scurried in various directions. Very pleased the sun came out and you got to do some 'testing of the water'. Is that a sailing term?

    Clayton's exhibition went very well yesterday and Chris McAuliffe was entertaining; the person officiating the opening. We understand the Director of the NGV is coming to 'view' on Thursday and there is a very real chance of acquisitions by state galleries for Clayton.

    He is keen to talk photos when you are back in these parts in October-November.

    I am selling cards and gifts like there is no tomorrow! Starting to think about a business relocation back to the church to bring down overheads and to assist Jeff in framing in a hands on way. Also looking forward to getting back to core Gallery business. Bit tired of being Kareen the Craft Counsellor of Maldon!

    One does what one must.

    Also mentioned to Lydia she might like to read your slog, since she is going to visit with us for NYE.

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    Russell, I too learned to sail by reading a book! I think it was by a guy called Jeff Toghill. BTW I think the term you're after is 'hove-to'.
    Kareen, tell everyone!

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    Hi Dave,
    Gerda says - David come home and then laughs - be safe and take care - appantly david says - kill the baby make another one - Gerda says she feels alright and has seen a minister - she says he seems quite normal - she also thinks lm putting all her siens down and some of the people here have gone conky - Gerda wants to go with you and she has also untangled her motherhood and will let you go
    Love from Gerda jeff and Karen

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