Sunday, October 14, 2007


I think there was something in the air on Saturday, because it seemed like everyone, on land and sea alike, had lost the ability to drive in a reasonable manner.

Sarah & Paul invited me to go sailing with them out of Annapolis for the day; one of Paul's coworkers has an O'Day 240, a nice little cruiser named No Problem. They had all gone sailing together, and the owner was impressed enough to let them borrow the boat for the day. I was thrilled to get invited along, since I haven't been sailing on anything over 16 feet for years, and I miss offshore sailing.

It was absolutely perfect on the water. Plenty of breeze, sunny but not hot. The wind did clock around some on us, and the tide was not entirely favorable. But if the weather was actually perfect, the sailing is less interesting - nothing to do. It's more fun if you have to work the sails, read the wind and the currents. So it was just fantastic; we ate lunch on the water, got the boat up to 7 knots (according to the GPS, at least), and put in some sea miles south of the Bay bridge. I had never been on the water before with Sarah or Paul, and they are a joy to sail with - sharp minds and easy manner, which I believe are critical crew characteristics if you want to enjoy your time on a boat. I just wish I was a little fresher with my sailing skills; there was a time when I would have had all sorts of handy tips and tricks for sail trim, boat speed, etc. But it's not like we were racing or anything.

But, our time on the water was wrapping up, since their dog Louie would soon need to be walked back in Virginia. So we headed back to the slip, and noticed that the wind was favorable for sailing right up the inlet. We set up, made the lay line, and headed in, just ahead of another, slightly larger sailboat. We head up the channel under sail, executing a pair of nice tacks. However, the channel turns pretty radically at the third and fourth sets of buoys, as you can see in this satellite view:

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We lost some speed coming out of the first tack into this hard turn. The other sailboat was motoring, and they didn't dump any speed when we started to stall, and were forced into another tack by the turn. We had very little speed, and they passed us on our starboard side. My rules of the road are rusty, but overtaking yields to overtaken, power yields to sail, and you err on the side of safety in a channel where vessels are restricted in their ability to maneuver. So I sleep easy, knowing we were in the right. But we ended up having to fend off with our bare hands, pushing on their boat, one of the pylons for the channel markers, all while Paul got the motor started and we brought the sails in so they would get damaged.

All in all, it was an ideal accident. No damage, everyone had some excitement before the letdown of cleaning up and leaving the boat. And it helped my confidence, oddly - a lot of things came back quickly, I like to think I was helpful. And I wouldn't hesitate to sail with those two again - I know if things go down, they'll be ready.

Oddly, it was like that all the way home, too. It seemed like everyone on the road was intent on cutting each other off, blasting across multiple lanes of traffic without hesitation. And there were other incidents of foolishness on the Bay, but it was just power boaters being their usual inconsiderate selves, so it isn't that remarkable.

In other news, go watch baseball. The Rockies have won something like 60 of their last 61 games, and it looks like the Indians and Red Sox might be in it for one hell of a slugging match over the next few games.

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