Swimming with Vince

Me, Paul, and my cousin Vinnie went sailing last Wednesday. We planned to go early but got off to a late start due to car troubles. Paul and Uncle Al were trying to wire Paul’s car to be able to operate the lights on the trailer of the boat so it could be legal on the road. Somehow, they blew some fuses or something, rendering the car unable to shift into drive (an automatic). The truck we normally use had very worn brake pads that didn’t stop very well. They had finally reached a dangerous point, so they needed to be replaced. They bought cheap pads and slapped them on quickly so they wouldn’t have to take the extra time of changing or turning the rotors.

We finally got out, after a quick pancake breakfast. Paul had removed and cleaned the halyards. I put the main halyard in backwards, but didn’t realize it until we got out on the lake. The waves were small but still rocked the boat a good bit at times, making it difficult to do any work. We attempted to use another line to pull the halyard through so we could pull it back up after switching ends. We got the line through and switched the ends, but in attempts to pull the halyard back through, the safety bin we were using to attempt to connect the two lines came undone and both lines came falling down. We had to head back in to the river and dock for a bit while we took down the mast and switched the line. Doing this on the calm water was actually fairly easy, though dropping pins or wrenches would have had much worse consequences. We made sure we had it right, then headed back out.

We put up the sails, and with a rather strong wind, were able to get going fairly quickly. Vince, though, was quite interested in swimming. Paul attached a line to his life vest and the boat and hopped off. It was a long line, so he was able to go back a good ways before being dragged along. The ropes held fast and he was able to pull himself back, so he came back aboard to get Vince. He tied another line between him and Vince and they both went in. I was left sailing by myself there while the swam around. The stronger winds made it a little more difficult to control the boat, especially when aproaching a run. Near a run, the sails would swing violently about, trying to decide which side to go to. I tried to keep it slow at first, but I realized the ropes could handle the force fine, so I sped up. They came aboard again. We were up to Lakewood Park when we decided to turn back toward home. They jumped off for one final swim, then came back aboard, shivering. They dried off with towels and sunned for a while. Then Paul took over control of the boat.

By now, the wind had died down a good bit, as had the waves. We weren’t headed back very fast at all. I was reluctant to go in the water, but they convinced me I should. I tied my vest to the rope, though in a place I’d later find was not especially good. I lowered into the water and fell back till the rope pulled me along. The way I tied it, to the front of the vest, I was unable to turn around; if I did, the rope tried to pull my head under the water, and it’d probably have been hard to get flipped back around properly. I had a floating coushin which helped keep my head above water, but also required me to hold on with at least one arm. If I let go, it would begin to go “backwards” fairly quickly. So I had mostly one arm to pull on the rope or swim with, and I couldn’t turn very well. It was not difficult, but still took a concious effort to stay on the cushion. Paul and Vince pointed out a stick/small log that was drifting by in the water. I swam towards it, thinking I had no chance, but I was able to grab the very end of it. I dragged it along, now with both hand occupied. After a while of this, I decided I wanted to get back aboard the boat. I slowly pulled my way up with one arm, holding the two items with my other. It was difficult to do, so once I got a bit closer to the boat, I took some of the rope now behind me and rapped it around the stick. I was worried it would break free, but it managed to hold. I pulled myself along more easily now, though the rope was getting quite tangled about my legs. I’d stop and try to get it untangled, then move forward some more, then stop again. At the side of the boat, as Paul had found earlier, it was tough to pull out of the water. Paul helped me up as I had him by pulling on the shoulders of the life vest. I was fairly cold. I pulled the stick up, which was actually fairly tangled in the rope, and tied it off to the side of the boat. I then took off my vest and shirt and dried off in the sun with a nice towel. I had taken my aqua shoes in as well, so I took off my wet socks and shoes to let them dry.

Once I was a bit warmer, I went back with Paul to help sail. With the weaker wind, we could only easily sail on reaches. Runs were rather slow. We reached back and forth a bit, though that provided slow progress in the direction we wanted to go. We then gave up on the sails and motored on in.

A nice run. I like sailing with a decent wind, and would have liked to have done more with it than I did. Our first swim off the boat was also a good experience. We’ll probably do that fairly often now. I’ll have to tie to my vest better next time though.