Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Three Hour Tour

At about 6:30 after work it hit me that it was a pretty nice day (clear and not too cold) and that I had a boat! I could...go sailing. I thought it would be a fun little adventure but couldn't have thought just how cool.

Fleece, Jacket, Pants, PFD, radio, cellphone, hat, sunglasses, SPOT, water bottle, banana, apple, and a jar of peanut butter. (always bring peanut butter). Bam in the boat. Bam masts up, rigging and sailing away from the dock at 6:45pm. 3 hours later I returned, a little changed.

It was chilly and my hands were cold. Gloves would have been a good addition to the list. There was a good breeze from the SE and I decided to just keep going till it was dark and then turn around. Normally that would seem like a bad plan but the sun was already nearly set and the river is pretty narrow so the chances of being lost are slim to none. I made it to the Flashing green #5 just outside of Vandemere (about 4.5 miles from the dock. I rounded the marker and started back. I made it about a quarter the way back on a light reach but the wind died soon there after. And the fun began.

It was just after twilight and the stars were out but the shore and water were illuminated by various streetlights with views of the water and house lights around the river. The boat was ghosting along and I was just sitting in the silence thinking about picking up the paddle. It was very quiet and still. I heard a sound and then another and turned to listen. I recognized the "pshh" as dolphin breath! I sat silently as more breathing came closer. They were too far away to see ripples but judging by the breaths and directions I guessed there were between 5 and 8 of them.

I heard the sound getting fainter and at that point I was very happy to have heard them and so many. I pulled out the paddle and started making my way back. Just as soon as I started paddling, the dolphins returned. This time they were curious. I guess because of the paddle noise and motion. They came closer this time. A LOT closer. At the height of it, there were at least 10 dolphin around the boat. 2 off the bow, then 3 in formation, 2 off the stern, but on either side as well. They were all around and within 2 boat lengths of me. I could hear them talking to each other as their squeaks echoed in the cockpit. It was like I was sitting in a speaker cone. Amazing. I have only heard this once before on board the WTP during my trip with Eye of The World.

I stopped paddling and could hear them breathing and talking all around me which probably lasted only a minute. As they swam farther away, I started paddling again stopping occasionally to see if I could still hear them. What an amazing 3 hour sail. Just when I thought, "crap, now I've got to paddle back" I was reminded what an amazing environment I have access to right outside my back door. It also occurred to me that with a small outboard, I would have been tempted to use it and get back to the warm cabin and would never have had a chance of hearing the dolphins.

I ended up paddling the last half of the return in a dead calm which was ok because the bio-luminescence in the wake of the paddle blade was incredible.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This weekend the trailer hitch came and I got it installed. Got the lights working so i'm ready to hit the road with the new trailer hitch upgrade done on the Corolla. Of course now I'm realizing that the next upgrade is some new rear struts. Can you say low rider.

Of all the trailer wiring and lights I have installed or worked on never ONCE has the operation gone without (wait for it...) a hitch. This time was no exception. I got the converter wired into the tail lights in the trunk and used the little tester. Looks ok. Ok plug into trailer. Left signal, good. Running lights, GOOD. Right signal, uh oh. Brakes, Houston, we have a problem. Then after some more fiddling the signal fuse blows and now the car has no signals. Awesome.

So, after more diagnostic testing... A right side trailer bulb was found blown and a new signal fuse was popped in. Also I found a lost connection in one of the little blue plastic clips used to attach the converter. (operator error). With all that set right the lights work fine. Sigh.... I hate trailer lights.

Off we go to some saltier water.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Southbound to Jordan Lake

Well, its been a busy few months lately. My dad and I are back from the Everglades Challenge which we took the win for in class 4 this year in the Dawn Patrol. We have not yet even fully unpacked from that adventure when off we go again. This weekend marked a momentous occasion for what is sure to be the first of many great trips in my new boat 'Southbound'. The story...

A sailing friend of mine who for some unknown reason decided to get married AND move to Australia has charged me with the care of his beloved Core Sound 17 which he built with his own 2 hands. I know full well the value of a hand made boat since I have built one as well and although his boat wanted to accompany him on his big move south-bound (ha ha) it was not to be. I only hope that I can continue to care for this boat as well as he did by regularly watering it and making sure it gets plenty of wind and sunlight! Taylor and I had been anxiously looking forward to this past weekend when we planned to take her out for our first trip in her, and believe it or not, only our second overnight trip in a boat.

We couldn't have picked a better weekend. Great weather, a full moon, clear skies, and even a Sunday regatta with the Carolina Sailing Club which I of course signed us up for. :)

We had a relaxing start Saturday packing up some camping gear, cloths sunscreen and other miscellaneous sailing stuff and after stopping for food and subways for lunch made our way to see the new boat. Knowing full well how much this boat is used to being sailed and having sailed it before myself. I knew that the boat was probably way more ready to get out on the water than we were. We found the boat sitting patiently in her storage unit with all possible sailing accessories one could ask for. The boat must have really wanted to get to the lake because it followed us the whole way there.

We got to the lake and found ourselves surrounded by bass fisherman, their trailers cars and boats everywhere. Some kind of fishing tournament it turned out but we managed to find a spot and started figuring out how to rig the boat. Well that took all of about 10 minutes since everything was either already rigged or snapped together almost as if someone had put a lot of thought into minimizing rigging time and maximizing sailing time. It took us way longer to get ourselves ready.

We had a great time sailing that day, It was warm and breezy and we focused on getting Taylor caught up on her sailing skills since we plan to do this a lot more. As it turns out she is an excellent sailor and after about 15 minutes of expert instruction she was sailing and trimming like a seasoned pro. By the end of the trip, we were practically finishing each others sailing sentences.

We saw another double masted boat on the lake which just had to be a sea pearl and sure enough when we finally crossed paths who did we find in said sea pearl but none other than fellow watertriber and UFC finisher RunningMouth! who is living in Raleigh and was at the lake testing out his new vertical battened sails with his lady friend. We yacked about watertribe and current events and did some drag racing until they packed it in. We headed back to the ramp to load up our evening gear.

We relaunched with camping gear aboard and motor sailed (paddled) out to a small cove off Poplar point campground and dropped the hook. We set the cockpit tent up (yes she came with a cockpit tent!!!) in the slightest of breezes which kept the mosquitoes away and after getting the boat stowed away and blowing up our air pads we were enjoying the sunset and eating some nice hot hot freeze dried dinners. We agreed that in the future we will try to plan dinners a little more formally. I one day strive to eat aboard like our friend Steve does on his trips. Log of Spartina.

It was a chilly night but we were warm and toasty in our sleeping bags and the moonlight was incredibly. Like sleeping in a tent under the soft glow of a streetlight. I woke up occasionally and watched the moon arc over head until it set across the lake. We took our time waking up and hosted the tent up to dry out in the morning sun. We got underway around 10am and did a quick intro course on setting the stay-sail which we planned to use in the race! We got our system down pat and headed back to the ramp to make some lunch and see what other boats had showed up.

We had about 13 boats on the water. Lasers, Flying Scotts, Lasers, Thistles, a 505 and what came to be our main competition, a buccaneer. We got to the line on time and as I sailed past the race committee boat they asked, "Are you here to race?". Yeah, I said. I signed up on the website. We are the Core Sound 17. "Oh ok. I got you here" they replied. so we were off.

We got in 3 races in very light and on and off wind. At one point I commented that it was just like a game of 'red light green light' where you have to stop and go and stop and go. This is not the CS17's favorite wind condition and we came in dead last on the first race but we had a crappy start. I was still getting warmed up. The second start I was ready and we were fighting for position with the 505 but we both got pushed out right at the committee boat and lost some ground but still managed a win over the buccaneer...who came in last. Ok so the Core Sound isn't much match for large overpowered sloop rigged round bottom racing mono hulls in light and variable conditions but I would have really liked to have been out there in 15 knots just to see the difference. We did however, learn how to sail the boat in light wind and after a while we were heeling the boat hard to leeward to reduce our wetted area and that helped tremendously. The last race was a pretty exciting drag race downwind between us and the buccaneer with our staysail pushing us right along which ended in a photo finish for last and second to last place but we probably had the most fun. We were the last boat back to the beach but thats ok, we were there to sail anyway. And yes, I left the paddle (and one of our anchors) in the car to weight. I'll probably not do that again.

We left the lake with warm and slightly sun and wind burnt faces but we had more fun than we could have asked for and can't wait for next time. Trip #1 down in the books.