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!