Thursday 28 July 2011


     "Maybe I'm laughing my way to disaster..."
                                                 -Paul Simon

    For those of you wondering whether I ever actually leave the dock, or if I just spend  all of my time cooking and drinking and making improvements to our boat that require varnishing, painting, and/or redesign, documentation follows:

   Recently, Jack invited me for a sail on his O'Day Tempest, the unfortunately named Blew Orphan.  For those of you not in the know, the Tempest is about the same length and beam as our Georgian 23, but that is pretty much where the similarities end.  A Tempest has a cockpit that is about 110% of the length of the boat, a vestigial cabin suitable for gnomes, a tiller that feels about 7 feet long, about 6" of freeboard and the waterline of a Siren.  Even though  Whiskeyjack has more sail area and a longer waterline, the Tempest is 1000 lbs lighter, making her a faster boat.  The PHRF rating on a Georgian 23 is 291, a Tempest is 246-ish.  And she is a pretty boat.

     Whatever.  On Whiskeyjack our beer stays cold and you can stand up to pee.

     As we leave the marina, sane boaters are coming in.  The wind is gusty, 15-20 knots, and the waves are a choppy 4-6 feet.

     Did I mention that there is about  6" of freeboard?

     And no lifelines?

     And I was sailing with Jack?

     Jack advised me to put on a PFD.  I obliged.

    As we headed out through the mouth of the marina, I discovered that the Tempest is a wet boat.  Really wet.   I was perched about midship on the cockpit bench, and every roller we crashed through broke squarely on my face.  By contrast, Jack, sitting waaaaaayyyyy back, just ahead of the outboard well, above and behind the tiller, was high and dry.  

     Once clear of the traffic heading into the marina, Jack decided to get some sail up.  Primarily a single-hander, Jack is most comfortable hoisting and trimming sail himself, and he's obviously not used to having crew along which became clear when he communicated his plan for getting canvas up.

     Jack said, "Here."

     Then proceeded to leap over me and head to the mast.

     Apparently, "Here." means "You take the helm while I raise the sails."

     So I scramble back to the tiller to keep us in the wind while Jack does the foredeck dance.

     Which is a sight to behold.

      Jack is the most practical of practical sailors.  He doesn't fix it unless it's broken, fixes it only enough so that it is fixed, and he is not concerned with fashion, only function, and often fixes function for Jack far better than they have any right to.  Why am I blathering about fixes and function and fashion?  Why, because of Jack's feet.

     (Ignore the dog- look at the shoes)

     No fancy, fandangled, futuristic, super-grippy deck shoes for him.  Jack is happy if his shoes have no holes.  Any tread is a bonus.

   Remember those waves that crested on my glasses earlier?  They made the deck really slick.  Yeah, the deck had a non-skid pattern applied to the deck when it was built, but 40-odd years of wear have seriously decreased the "non" value.

    So, to sum up-  wet, slick deck, treadless shoes, 4-6' whitecaps...

     And no lifelines.

     I survey the boat for MOB (Man OverBoard) retrieval devices and come up with bupkus.  If you hit the water, Jack,  I'm not getting you back.   No more, no more, no more, no more.  I focus on keeping us into the wind and try to ignore the acrobatic antics of the Flying Dutchman...

    ...And 2 minutes later Jack swings back into the cockpit  unscathed, leapfrogs me, kills the outboard, slams shut the hatch covering the outboard  and hops over me again to grab a Coke from the cooler in the cuddy.

    Apparently, I am still on the helm.  Any course, capt'n?

    With a breezy wave,  Jack leaves it to me. "Whatever."  Then he sprays Coke all over himself from an over-excited can that looks well past it's best before date.

    Sailing under storm jib and reefed main, Blew Orphan  was a joy to sail.  Well-balanced, she hardened up at about 10 degrees of heel and just went.   It had been a long time since I had sailed a tiller boat, and I found myself muttering the mantra "push starboard, go port, pull port, go starboard.."  In fact, everything on the Orphan was backwards to Whiskeyjack.  The mainsheet was behind the tiller rather than ahead of the wheel, and the jib sheets were ahead of the tiller, rather than behind the wheel.  As we scudded along, enjoying the fact that we largely had the lake to ourselves, the chop begins to die and  we spy sails on the horizon.

    Eric and After School  is out working the wind as well.

   You know what they say about two sailboats on the water inevitably falling to racing- Jack and I decide to reel Eric in.  I'd love to be able to spin a tale of hard fought tacking duel, but the reality is that the Orphan  simply ate up the distance.  Jack got pictures of them...

   ...While they got pictures of us, getting pictures of them...

    See the hat?  That right there is photo documentation that I do more than just cook.


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1 comment:

  1. Just glad to have shoes, no wait glad to have a sailboat then shoes and then maybe a rear window for my car.