Easy Sailing, Tough Rowing
Easy Sailing, Tough RowingReport Abuse
August 29,30, September 1, 2008
Easy Sailing, Tough Rowing
Labor Day Weekend brought great weather this year! Jack vanArsdale and Keith Otto split galley supply and duties for the weekend. Jack kicked things off with a huge breakfast on Saturday morning consisting of crackling crisp bacon, scrambled eggs dripping with cheese, cold cranberry juice, and hot buttered toast. Kelly IV’s fourth crewman, Captain Troy Cain, declared “we always eat like Kings when sailing!”. Captain Cain, retired US Army, is skipper of Relentless, an Irwin 34 moored in Annapolis. Once breakfast was complete, we slipped the lines and left Sandusky Harbor Marina for Middle Bass Island.
Given the northeasterly breeze, we decided to sail to the southwest of Kelley’s Island, then on a northwesterly heading to the channel between Middle Bass and North Bass Islands. Although the wind was light enough that we seriously considered motoring on several occasions, we never succumbed to the temptation. The breeze always returned and we enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing, uneventful sail. We safely crossed the path of the red Marblehead ferries as they worked the waters between Kelley’s and Marblehead. Then we eased the bow more northward as we turned the corner southwest of Kelley’s Island and steered past the R2 bouy west of the home of Glacial Grooves. On Friday’s drive from Pittsburgh, we had discussed the possibility of sailing to Leamington, Ontario, but the light winds change our minds when our trusty handheld GPS presented us with an ETA of midnight. To ease the pain of missing the travel to a foreign country, we sailed north past our waypoint for entering the channel between North and Middle Bass Islands. Our charge past the unheeded waypoint took us the additional mile into Canadian waters. Even though our destination was still in the US of A, we could now honestly claim we had sailed to Canada on this holiday weekend!
Once over the line we turned our back on the now easterly breeze, running before it into the channel between the islands. We could see Sugar Island and Rattlesnake Island in the glistening golden water of the late afternoon sun. The wind finally dropped to a soft cushion with no push left, so the iron genny was fired up to take us the final mile into the anchorage west of Middle Bass Island. Only about 8 boats were in the anchorage, so we had plenty of room to choose our select spot for the evening. Jack prepared another terrific dining event with so much success that Capt Cain decided to remain with Jack after dinner and relax on board for a quiet evening. Keith and I still found the energy to row ashore, so we settled into our bouncy, but functional Port-A-Bote dinghy, and pulled her bow first towards the shore. A resident on shore gave us directions to a public landing area further south, so we rowed the few hundred yards to an opening in the trees. Keith and I carefully noted where Kelly IV was anchored in the beautiful orange sunset, certain that we’d find her again in the dark. Just as we pulled up, a fellow sailor, John, of a very nice Beneteau 39, motored onto the same pebbly beach in his inflatable bringing his daughter and girlfriend ashore with him. We learned that there was a nice pub/restaurant just a few hundred yards walk from where we tied our dinghys, so all five of us took the short walk to the quiet, friendly publick house.
It started as a quiet evening while Keith and nursed our beers, but as the evening wore on the local islanders kept coming into the establishment. While Keith struck up a conversation with a couple of sisters, I surveyed the dancing crowd and live band. There were Moms and Kids, Grandmas and Grandsons, even John’s daughter and girlfriend all filling the dance floor with exuberance and joy. It was great to be a spectator of the sport. It became clear that this was a family place with everyone having fun. The owners (or at least I thought them to be) set up a game board and we observed a local version of a TV game show as contestants vied for dollars and trips. The players made their guesses and watched the island “Vanna” pull off the winning cards from their display. While watching the game show hoopla, I thought I heard Keith inviting the sisters aboard Kelly IV for a sail the next day. At first I wondered how I would explain the additional guests to Mia, but later I discovered that no times or locations were confirmed so we never did find the ladies to whisk them away by sail.
Eventually Keith and I decided that it was time to remove ourselves and row our trusty dinghy back to Kelly IV.
The time had passed quickly so that John, his girls, and his dinghy were long gone when we untied our little Port-A-Bote. We looked across the anchorage and saw many sailboats with their slowly bobbing anchor lights. Knowing that Kelly IV was right there among them, we pushed off from shore rowing with the very light breeze at our stern. It was an easy row as we pulled past one sailboat after another. Of course, since Kelly IV was the only blue hull, and the only boat with the anchor light low over the foredeck, she’d be easy to identify from the other boats. 30 minutes later, after rowing the full length of the anchorage, our certainty was beginning to falter. Well, the water was flat, the night was calm, the wind almost calm, and we had plenty of energy to continue rowing for a while longer. Keith directed me back through the anchorage, only this time we proceeded more slowly, carefully looking at each and every boat we passed, knowing that we must have rowed right by Kelly IV, but just missed her in the dim, moonless night. It took some time as we were not going to miss her as we worked the oars a second time through the anchorage. Well, that was our plan . . . but once again we reached the opposite end of the anchorage without finding Kelly IV. Although I knew better, I voiced accusations of Jack and Troy surreptitiously moving Kelly IV just to pull a fast one. Keith and I discussed the details we were looking for, what made Kelly IV unique in this anchorage, her blue hull, her low-hung anchor light, she was the third boat from the south end of the anchorage, she was . . . not to be seen. Now we very slowly and deliberately rowed past every boat in the anchorage as we worked our way to the north past every boat we could see. Even so, we found ourselves a second time at the far end of the bay without locating Kelly IV. We worked our way back south along the shoreline, looking and discussing each boat we could see, but clearly none of them were Kelly IV. It was now 2 hours after we untied the dinghy to find Kelly IV, the night was slipping away, we were both quite tired, and we were making no headway towards locating our berths for the night. Out of frustration, we gave up and turned onto the nearest beach. We tried sleeping on the beach, but the air was getting very cool, even cold, regardless of our windbreakers. The baseball size rocks that made up the beach surface were no help either. After an hour of minimal sleep, I decided to walk the beach and found a bit of glowing coals in a left-over campfire pit. It only took some well-dried driftwood, followed by some huffing and puffing and the fire was burning brightly. I rousted Keith from his less than princely sleep and he eagerly joined me basking in the fire’s warmth. About an hour or so later the first hints of dawn lit up a beautiful sight, Kelly IV peacefully at anchor just where we left her the sunset before. Ten minutes of rowing put us back on board where we actively ignored the questions of our crewmates and slept until the bright light and heat of the day swept the sleep from us once again.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful as we motored to Put-In-Bay for some sightseeing, then sailed back to Sandusky Bay on Monday after a quiet evening in the PIB anchorage. And yes, we DID find Kelly IV when rowing back in the dinghy!