Tue, 18 May 1999 10:31:15 -0400

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Greetings all:

I thought that I would send some of my recent sailing (mis)adventures.

Sunday May 9 we decided to celebrate my son's 6th birthday with a
sailing trip to the Welcome Islands (five miles off shore). We invited
another family so had four adults and four kids (age four to eight)
onboard. The weather forecast was for light winds (at this point you
probably know the rest of the story). We left the marina and the harbour
under full main and working jib on a run heading for our rendezvous with
the Welcomes. After about an hour of slow sailing the wind suddenly
shifted so that we were now close hauled. The wind also began to build
to the point where I suggested we reef the sail. We hove to and did this
without any problems. After fifteen more minutes of sailing with the wind
continuing to build I decided that a second reef was necessary. Again
we hove to and did the second reef. By this point we were getting wet
in the cockpit with the spray coming over the bow and cabin top.
Fortunately we all had full rainsuits and the kids stayed in the cabin. We
also had one child starting to be queasy although the other three seemed
to be enjoying the ride. Within an hour and a half we went from calm to
raging seas although it stayed sunny the whole time. The waves must of
built to four to five feet with lots of breakers and the occasional six
footer. It was amazing. At this point we were about a mile from our
destination and being overpowered even with the double reef so we
decided to motor the remaining distance. Upon striking the sails we
began motoring. We found that we had to motor fairly slowly in order to
keep the boat from pounding too hard and to keep the prop of my long
shaft outboard in the water. I have had my boat for three years and have
often wondered if the 8hp motor was overkill. On this occasion I was
happy to have the extra power. As we approached the harbour I could
see a surge running into the small bay. We had run aground (hit a rock)
in this area before so before entering we released the dagger board hold
downs. We swept into the harbour and made a hard turn to starboard to
meet the dock. We were immediately blown off the dock and back into
the bay. After executing a loop while steering with both the motor and
tiller I did a more radical approach to the dock and finally we made
contact. I jumped ashore with a line and almost kissed the dock but for
the sensibilities of our guests who were pretty laid back (being more
experienced at sailing small boats (lightnings) than I am). Needless to
say, I was shaking.

We had a nice birthday celebration, complete with singing and candles. It
was nice although I was thinking of the sail back to the city. After two
hours on the island we decided to sail home. By this time (5 pm) the
winds had calmed down to the point where we were able to sail on a
beam reach with full main and jib all the way back. The waves had also
calmed to the point where the water texture was interesting but not
terrifying. It was a fun sail back.

This really illustrated how Lake Superior (and I would suspect most large
bodies of water) can change radically in a short period of time. I should
also say that the P19 did not seem to have any problems with the
conditions aside from the normal small boat symptoms of lots of spray
and the bow being lifted quite high on the occasional extra large wave.

Next post I will tell you how I managed to hit a buoy on a harbour last

P-19 #953 "Water Wings"
Thunder Bay, Lake Superior