Three more Grey Area trips for me

I had a long day out on the sailboat today. I woke up at 8 or so, which got me to the Petty residence before 10:30. Uncle Al and I drove down to the marina. Uncle Al thought Paul was sleeping at the boat, but he wasn’t. We took it for a motor around just outside the break wall near our docks. I did some of the steering, which I need practice in in those close quarters. The motor was giving us trouble still, stalling out like it was lacking gas. The water was quite calm. I steered her back into the dock quite easily. Uncle Al chatted with one of our neighbors (he chats with all of them really, and most anybody), Tom Hopkins. He has a little powerboat near our dock. He has a shower and sun umbrella with chairs on his dock. He’s also having a graduation party for his daughter there tomorrow. We were just heading out back toward home when Paul drove in on his motorcycle. Uncle Al rode the motorcycle home and left us with the car (Ally’s car, by the way, which will become important later).

I went back out to the boat with Paul, and we headed out. He seemed to have a short temper there, especially with the motor that kept stalling out. We motored out, then cut the engine. We had planned to put the main sail up, but were unsure because of the very low wind levels. We finally decided to go ahead. It raised easily, and I soon found the rigging for back there worked fine the way we set it up the last time I was out, save for the addition of a small length of line to hold up the boom. This length of line isn’t totally necessary most of the time, and must be removed to swing the boom out beyond a certain point. We didn’t have enough wind to fill the sail, and were dissappointed with our slow speed. We decided to raise the jib as well. We weren’t sure of how to rig the sheets for that, but we just ran the lines through some pulleys and to the appropriate wenches. This worked just fine. We were hoping the jib was a genoa, to give us more sail area with the light winds, but it wasn’t. Soon after the jib went up, we started to get a little more wind. The Grey Area really cruised along at a good speed even with the still light winds. Paul had me stay on a reach by keeping the windex pointer over its fixed fins. I found this a little boring, but it did provide us with more speed. Then Ally called Paul on his cell phone. She had tickets to a concert that evening sitting in her car, which was at the marina. We had to go back in to give them the keys to the car. We sailed a good bit of the way, then dropped the sails to motor in. I found it rather difficult to try to fold the sails while keeping the boat going straight, so I eventually had to give up on our direction and focus on the folding. I took the tiller as we motored in. Paul wanted to park it a little differently then normal; we’d come in going forward, then spin the boat around from the dock to point it outward for easy exit. This confused me a bit and I came in differently than before. The landing didn’t go well and we nearly ran into both the dock and the adjacent jet ski. A police boat even came by and was eyeing us. But we finally got it spun around and in backwards.

Paul and our neighbor Tom, who had fixed similar engines for years, took a look at our engiine to attempt to fix it. A hose, which is connected to absolutely nothing at one end for some reason, was broken. Paul cut off the broken end and reattached the rest of the hose. They then cleaned and gapped the spark plug. All this seemed to improve the performance slightly, but it still stallled out regularly. They determined we should just take it to the dealer and get it fixed under warranty.

I was hungry, and Paul wanted to take his friend Jeff with us, so we left to those ends. We picked up Jeff, my car, some Subway, and some chips and stuff. They planned to spend the night there. Paul had tried to get more people, but to no avail. We then went back to the boat. We rigged up a temporary connection for our mast light, cleaned and filled the cooler with their food, and headed out. The engine started and ran just fine there. Paul piloted and we went out beyone the break walls. I took the tiller while they raised the main. The wind had picked up quite a bit, giving quite a pull on those sails. It was also quite dark by then. We steered around at high speeds for a bit, then decided to put up the jib. They readied the jib for hoisting. The winds had continued to pick up and now were fairly strong. We deliberated about whether to raise the jib. We sailed under just the main for a bit more, then finally went ahead with the jib. It didn’t go up well. I somehow managed to head into the wind and then tack well this was going on, causing a sudden and quick swing of the boom and jib right into a very strong heel on the other side. We quickly scrambled to move to the other side and get out of that heel. I got the boat into a more comfortable position, but it still had a lot of power in the sails. It was slightly hard to keep her straight and we were going quite fast. According to the GPS, we were going 6 to 7 mph, and it had a high speed of 8.5, though none of us had seen it get near that high. I had Paul take over for a bit, then we had Jeff hold it a bit. It was Jeff’s first sailing adventure, so Paul was teaching him the basics. We took turns at the tiller for a while and listened to some Bob Dylan and Cars. We also set the VHF on scan and occassionally heard some bridge requests and the like. At around 10:30 we decided to head back. We pulled down the jib to make it all a little safer, as it was kinda scary with both sails up, especially our first tack there. We tacked easily with just the main and realized we’d have to tack repeatedly to get back to shore, as the wind was coming from it. We went for quite a while before we decided to tack again. We then found that we had gone far enough to allow us to head straight towards our destination on a close haul. A light house, many lights, and some smoke stacks helped guide us back to port. When we got less than a mile offshore, they dropped the main and we started the motor. It gave us trouble at first, but then did pretty good most of the way in. I couldn’t see much as I guided as back in, and found us headed straight toward a steel break wall. Paul then took over and took us in. It was quite hard to see as we came into the docks. We couldn’t see our dock at all until we started getting close. We were helped by the string of green lights Tom had on his boat. We killed the engine and then slowly coasted on in. Me and Jeff were easily able to get on the dock and gain control of the boat. As Uncle Al was mad that we put it in ‘backwards’, we left it the normal way. I then finally went home.

My day of driving cars was also quite long. I did 120+ miles myself, plus 40 or so as a passenger. My route home from the docks was particularly long, as I had no directions. I took 90, which took me all the way to Cleveland. I then took 71 south, which finally met up with the turnpike, which took me much more directly toward home.`