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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kayaking in a Small Craft Advisory

Spray was coming up all over my dog Buttercup and I and even though I put a blanket over her so she would stay more dry, it was getting crazy and we were getting drenched! It was also raining but I hardly noticed with my hood and baseball cap on.

I'm not sure why I get myself in these situations (yes, I tend to be quite adventurous by nature) and yes, it was exciting, although a little worrisome at one point. Especially the point when I had crossed the channel and I realized on the way back that the wind was blowing really hard against us. At first the wind had seemed to be obviously blowing down the channel upon us from the south but what I now understood was that it was from the south east - right in our face. Even the sheltered marina had white caps on the waves and the wind was blowing so hard I could barely make speed in the kayak against it!

At first, when I set out, the wind and waves were just fine (I mean it was windy still - but not CRAZY!) When I entered the main channel though, the wind was up a notch and I was surprised to see white caps on the small waves. Buttercup's body was covered by an itchy blanket (which surprisingly resists moisture) and she looked so cute with her head sticking out the front! If she hadn't been protected, I wouldn't of even tried to go across the channel. By the time I had paddled half way out, the waves were one to two feet high and breaking white water. I was beginning to feel challenged a bit but not overwhelmed. But by the time I got to the other side, the wind and waves were really taking on a 'mean' appearance. I noticed but I didn't take it to heart because at that point we weren't going into the wind. After letting Buttercup off at a dock to stretch her legs and warm up a little, she then hopped back on the kayak and we set off once more. However, As soon as I turned around and got past the dock is when I realized I could be getting myself into trouble! I was surprised to see that the wind was gusting from the south east and the waves were driving against me in the same direction. So every time I paddled the kayak into a wave, it broke over the bow and shot white spray all over Buttercup's head. 'Poor Butter!' was all I could think - but I had no choice now. It was 'get back wet or not at all!' So I clenched my teeth and paddled on with all my might - each wave getting the two of us wetter and wetter. I swear, I had the same gut feelings of fear and desperation that I get when I sail out into big waves at sea. Three quarters of the way back and I yelled: "we're gonna make it Buttercup!" And soon we had crossed out of the danger zone and into the smaller boat basin. Now that there were no waves to slow us down, we practically coasted down the basin and were back. Buttercup jumped off the kayak onto the dock SO HAPPY TO BE BACK! Within a few minutes, I entered my sailboat cabin drenched. After changing into warmer clothes, I then wrote: "Buttercup and I are just lying back in my boat today after just having gone out kayaking in this crazy rain."

Even though I've done some pretty hair raising things in my kayak like going out to sea at night and overturning in the waves as I washed up on the beach, I have to say that this was unintentionally crazier and 'took the cake' for wild experiences on a kayak! :-D


~Albie
All comments are TRULY welcome!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sailing Without an Engine - AGAIN!

It was a beautiful evening, the stars were shining, the lights from shore glowed across the water and a healthy wind was blowing. The waves were just a couple feet high and didn't seem to bother Buttercup (my golden lab) who sat near me in the cockpit. But it had not been a bowl of roses getting out here:

Today my friend asked me to take her 30 foot Santana boat out (as she was away and needing someone to check on it). So I found her boat in the dock she had told me of and I set about to find the key. That in itself was a major job - as I couldn't find it - and so kept up the search until finally I remembered one little clue she had told me and I was then able to open the hatch door. Afterwards, I set about the task of getting the jib and main sail set. It was obvious it had not been sailed in a while, so finding the sails took me a while too! The next step was to get the outboard engine turned on, and this too proved difficult! In fact - I couldn't do it. I tried every trick in my 'engine starting' book but it would not turn over. So here I would go again - sailing without an engine! One big problem though: it was a downwind slip and how to get the boat out? I began formulating a plan to kayak out to the opposite dock on the upwind side, tie a rope on the dock cleat and then kayak back, attach the boat to the line and pull the boat out. Putting up the sails, I would then let go of the lines holding the boat to the dock and sail out. And that's more or less what happened after a first try mess up - the first trouble being that I only set the jib (sailing out under jib alone works with me Columbia 22 but not on this bigger Santana 30).
So once out on the water - I was exuberant (I mean after all that work I had almost given up!). It was my first time sailing a thirty foot by myself and though there was an additional eight feet from my Columbia 22, it really did not feel that much different.

The sun was now setting and as I got half way out the harbor, I knew I needed to get the navigation lights on. So I tied down the tiller in my usual fashion* (which I will explain below) and then turned on the battery and lights. But here again I was met with resistance. For every light seemed willing to come on EXCEPT the navigation lights! The boat even had some really cool amber cockpit lights that helped maintain night vision. That was all super great but without the essentials, I felt frustrated again! Thankfully I had thought ahead and put some emergency nav. lights in my backpack and now attached these to the port and starboard side and lit my lantern for the stern light. So, armed with this, I then headed out to sea. It was peaceful to be sailing over the waves again by myself. I had not been out by myself since I lost my mast in that storm about a month or so ago. And so after a pleasant sail over the dark waves, I returned back to the harbor and coming upwind, lowered the mainsail, and then cruised back under jib alone into the boat slip.

"Nicely done!" A friendly man on another boat yelled across the water. I took that as a compliment and was encouraged for all the hard work I had done to get the boat out today!

My new Mast!

My new Mast!
Because the mast is now 29 feet, I found a Catalina 27 sail that fits it real well. CLICK on PIC to go to page all about different masts on the boat!.

Sailed to Catalina

Sailed to Catalina
A view of Cat Harbor looking out at the Pacific. CLICK ON PIC TO GO TO ALBIE'S PIRATE PAGE!

After Sailing - bonfire on the beach!

After Sailing - bonfire on the beach!
Wow! It was so hot! You could cook your hotdog two feet away from the fire!
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Welcome to Sailing with Albie!

I made this blog because I wanted to share my adventures at sea with all of you! Some of you may be wishing they had their own boat or just want to 'get away' even if just at home on the web. So each week I decided to write down my feelings while out at sea and share them with you. If you enjoy them, please feel free to come back here weekly and see what's new. Also please share the blog with your friends and with those who you know like sailing!



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Albie

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http://sailingwithalbie.blogspot.com/