Sailing moments

We’re growing as sailors. We’ve probably spent almost as much time on the water in the last 3 months than we did in the prior 3 years and our sailing days are less constrained so we can take the time to work things out and learn more about sailing our own boat. This learning is a small part of the reason we wanted to spent the first year of cruising around here.

The freedom of having time also means we are treating sailing as the primary goal of the day, or the primary fun of the day, rather than a pleasant means to a more desirable end (the anchorage). We sail a lot and I, in particular, am enjoying sailing more now that I don’t feel like we are in a rush to get somewhere. For me, rush = stress and thus weekend sailing trips = fun + stress. Now, we regularly plan short transits or if we are planning a longer transit, we pick a shorter hop as a back up that we will go to if we are sailing but not sailing very quickly.

Here is a collection of areas of sailing that we’ve explored since we left Victoria.

Sailing onto and off of our anchor: For non-boater friends, normally we turn on the motor and drop the sails prior to entering a cove to drop our anchor. Similarly, as we get ready to leave we normally start the motor, raise the anchor, exit the bay under motor and then raise the sails. Sailing on and off our anchor means that we sail into the bay to drop our anchor or raise our anchor and sail out of the bay, all without using the engine. We’ve now sailed onto our anchor twice and off of our anchor once. Any engineless sailors reading this blog are rolling their eyes right now but we are quite pleased with ourselves.

Tacking our way through narrow channels: We are sailing in places where we would have motored before. We sailed through the narrow pass out of Comox, the very narrow channel into Tofino and in numerous other places where we would have been nervous to be beating or on a dead run previously. It’s exhilarating and again, makes us feel quite pleased with ourselves.

Night passage: We had already been out for 3 days in one stretch and had sailed past dark or starting in the dark in the morning a few times but we took the opportunity to transit from Port Langford in Esperanza to Hot Springs Cove in Clayoquot overnight. With only very limited experience under my belt, I can’t say that there is anything particularly different about night passages other than it is more difficult to stay awake, I get nauseated faster if I’m doing computer work and it is difficult to find things you set down in the dark. Also, the night sky even only 10 miles offshore was amazing. I saw the Milky Way for the first time in my life during my watch.

Heavier wind aft of the beam: We had managed to be in 30 knot winds only foreward of the beam prior and now we have had time to work on our running rigging and sailing technique in heavier winds while running or reaching. We have a workable boom preventer system although we have ideas on how to make it better. More on that later when I work on the new set up.

Anchoring closer to shore and closer to other boats: This may not sound like a desirable growth direction and no, we don’t anchor close to other boats on purpose. However, we had previously always been overly nervous and overestimated our swing distance, leaving way more room than needed and sometimes not staying in an anchorage that had plenty of room or anchoring in depths that were much deeper to have more room from shore than necessary. By using our electronic charting to double check our eyes we are training our eyes to be able to gauge the distance actually needed given the scope we put out. We still stay a safe distance…but not a ridiculous distance.

4 comments:

  1. Sailing on and off anchor is impressive to me. We look forward to checking some of these things off our list too.

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  2. Ken and I sailed in to anchor at Nootka, then sailed off the anchor the next day and had a fabulous run down to hotsprings cove, where we again sailed in and set our anchor, which we sailed off of again in the morning (there being favorable zephyrs blowing out of the cove.) We then started the motor to charge the batteries. Solar panels sure would be nice!

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  3. All of the above are sailing skills we hope to acquire, thanks for sharing your experiences. Sailing in the Columbia we have plenty of tacking practice, but not in narrow channels (we chicken out and motor). Most sailing books seem to indicate sailing downwind is more relaxing than beating, yet we are always more comfortable closehauled and are not comfortable downwind with the main out in anything more than a light breeze so we will be interested in hearing more about your preventer.

    We have yet to sail on or off anchor but we did see a boat sail out of a crowded marina which required 2 right angle turns, sailing perpendicular to the current, and then tacking through a very narrow causeway (probably about 2 boat lengths wide). We were impressed and inspired!

    That is awesome you saw the Milky Way, I grew up in the country in the desert and didn't realize how lucky I was to have such views of the night sky until moving to the PNW.

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  4. @Mike - I'll look forward to reading your list.
    @Andrew - This summer? Too bad we didn't run into you. We thought we saw a Pretorien going into Sooke yesterday.
    @Rowan - Enjoyed reading about your experiences.

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