Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fair Winds, Finally!

by Caitlín

When I woke, the world was calling; in the wind rushing through the trees, in the birds' joyful song, I heard an invitation for my own delight. I was so eager to get out of the house and feel the wind that I was dropping things and banging my elbows on walls every time I turned around.

I skipped to the car.

As I drove the lengthy park entrance road, the smells carried on the breeze were tantalizing. At the water's edge, I found my hopes answered in a river tossed by the wind, flashing with sunlight.

Despite some difficulties, we made it past the breakwater and raised the sails. I feel a burst of excitement as the boat responds to the wind, the tiller becomes taught in my hand. I am in tune to the boat, with the waves and the wind and the world.

I always wonder at the simple majesty of a sail stiff with a breeze (even when it's in severe need of scrubbing), and how the leap and crash of waves off the bow can be at once both lulling and invigorating.

When we started out the goal was to tack upriver and around a miniature island (complete with several trees), but we didn't quite make it there. In all the times I've been out, we never have, but I don't mind. For me, the joy can be in the journey, not always reaching the destination.

I'd rather steer full and by and let the winds take me where they wish (unless it's in towards shore).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No Wind, Lots of Water

by Caitlín

The weather didn't look hopeful. At my house the wind was still and calm, the sky a dull gray. But the report from the dock was of choppy water and a stiff breeze. Let's go!

On my way to the car, the first of the rain dotted the sidewalks. The drive to the park was spent hoping for the weather to clear, and after my first glimpse of the river I was also asking for wind.

Captain Finn decided we should still at least try, so we slipped the boat free of her mooring and motored past the breakwater. Luis was at the helm while I went forward to show Jared how to raise the sails, which was quite easy since there was close to no resistance from the wind.

This morning happened to be Jared's first time out on a sailboat, but he didn't seem to mind that we did almost no sailing at all (see his happy smile?).

While we waited for the wind, Captain Finn went over points of sail with his Wind Wheel and explained tacking procedures. We may have even tried it once, but training isn't very effective when tacking takes five minutes.

Next Captain Finn started up the motor and let each of us Scouts try a hand at steering under motor power, which is a little tricky. Though the boat can be turned using only the motor, the motor is offset from the center and so doesn't have as wide a range as the rudder. So it works better to use the rudder as well, and you have to keep a relatively equal tension on both.

After we'd all given it a go, the rain came down even harder and we decided that it was time to head back to port. We had a moment of confusion when we picked up the wrong mooring--one intended for a larger boat, making it too far from the dock for us to disembark.

By the time we had tied off at the other mooring and returned to shore, we were all pretty much soaked except for under our PFDs. The sail wasn't what we were hoping for, but we made the best of it, and it was a good reminder that those days with fair winds are extra special.