The plan (I had a plan) was to motor a bit past the breakwater, to give the engine a good run under load (she’s been idling on the hard this last month and can’t have been happy with the low rpms), and then head back in to my slip for dinner, assess findings, and move to sailing on the morrow.
But there was wind on the water. The open sky and full sun made the day feel almost warm. The vast range across the bay, crystal clear, enticing. And, did I mention, there was wind?
I’ll just pop the jib, I thought.
And with that we achieved lift off.
For those readers who are not sailors, let me remark that the sensational difference between motoring and sailing a boat is like the difference between taxiing and flying a plane. Motoring is going, sure enough, and going is part of the equation, but subtract the engine and add in wind and the sum isn’t going of a different kind so much as of a different order. It’s a dimensional shift. Same boat, same bit of water; but with sails full and the vessel healed and hunting, the motion becomes fluid, intentional, animated. Think galloping horse and add soaring flight. Now place before your bows an uninterrupted horizon and suddenly aiming for the setting sun with the idea of achieving Mars seems perfectly reasonable.
But I get ahead of myself.
Wind was SE at 10 – 15. I put the boat on a reach; she healed gently, and soon our speed was 6 knots. She slid through the water as if her hull had been greased.
A few tacks later found the main going up, and then she charged. Winds in a “slot” east of the harbor increased to 25, boat speed went well over 7 knots. Rail down. The resulting crash below reminded me I’d not released the stove to its gimbals. A pot of lentil soup did a Jackson Pollock.
I put in a reef, tacked back and forth across the bay, working the boat but not paying much attention to position, and by 8 0’clock in the evening, found we were off Halibut Cove.
I’ll just tuck in and have a look, I thought.
The tiny public dock was empty. That and still water below a big, black rock mountain covered in snow erased any reason to return to Homer that night.
Next day very light westerlies allowed me to put the boat before the wind, set the autopilot, and rig the Genoa poles. What an advantage, autopilot. Flip a switch and suddenly one has a (silent) crewman at the helm; flip the switch again and he goes away. Magic. Especially helpful when there are so many new lines to run, get wrong and run again.
By now I have raised the main four times, but still haven’t got it right. I forget to release the lazy jacks or the sheet jams or the crutch bars are up or the tack from yesterday’s reef is still in and suddenly the boom is pointing to heaven. The running backs get stuck tight and can’t be released or my neat stowing solution for the spinnaker halyard succeeds in getting it wrapped around the head of the jib foil. So many mistakes absorbed without consequence by a forgiving boat (for now) on a gentle bay.
By evening we were off Bear Cove at the head of Kachemak Bay. Here we anchored behind a point on the NE side in 50 feet, sand and mud. Next day, I rigged the dinghy for its innaugural row and launched immediately. While in the middle of the cove, a small whale breached but a few feet away. In the afternoon, rigged the vang and restowed the aft port locker.
Departed next morning for the climb, tack over tack, back to Halibut Cove. And next day, Homer, where the bustling harbor with barely enough boat-lengths for my big bird to turn around reminds me why I left. Just time for this note and some groceries…
Please forgive lines all ahoo and sails poorly set in the below photos. We’re just getting going…