Sunday, October 26, 2008

Old Bay

The past two weekends I've been out to Annapolis to help Sarah & Paul with their boat.  Last weekend was mostly about boat work - cleaning, re-rigging a few things, trying to fix a leak in the gas tank for the outboard.  That day had two particular highlights.

First, we had to install a wind indicator at the top of the mast.  This meant someone had to go up the mast.  I volunteered - I've always enjoyed work aloft.  So up I went, and prepared to get to work.  First, we decided to test the mast head lights, to make sure they were in good working order.

This is where the story takes an interesting turn.  With two naval architects, and two experienced sailors onboard, you'd think someone would have remembered this important fact about working aloft on small boats: it radically shifts you center of gravity.  Enough so that, say, having a person my size at the top of the mast almost eliminates the righting moment when the boat heels.  So when the crew shifted down below to reach the light switches, the boat heeled over.  A lot.  To the point were I looked straight down and saw the pier - the far side of the pier.  But the she stopped - once I knew that was as far as she'd go, I knew I could just ride out the  rest. It was actually pretty fun.  And I did eventually get that windex in place.  It was a hell of  ride.

The day was not through with us.  Sarah & Paul had brought their dog, Louie.  And later Louie decided he wanted to get off the boat onto the pier.  Trouble was, he didn't quite make it.  Into the Chesapeake he went, and we had to haul him out by the handle installed on the back of his lifejacket.  He was drenched, but he helped by shaking most of the water off onto us.  Good dog!

This weekend the boat was all dialed in, so we were able to get out quickly and sail south of the Bay Bridge.  It was a perfect day for sailing - good steady breeze, sunny and warm but not hot.  Just ideal.  Louie acquitted himself well on the boat, and all four of us did quite well pulling off some very nice tacks - more challenging that it sounds since there are three adults and a dog in a fairly small cockpit.

Out on the water we were surrounded by every possible type of boat and ship.  I saw a cargo barge, a pilot schooner, a topsail schooner, a Farr 40, a Nonsuch, a few very nice Catalinas, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, and an MSC containership.  Between the sights, the company, and the excellent sailing, it was just about a perfect Sunday.

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