First Solo Sail on Kelly IV, June 21 – 23, 2010
First Solo Sail on Kelly IV, June 21 – 23, 2010Report Abuse
First Solo Sail on Kelly IV, June 21 – 23, 2010
Once Keith and Jack left for Pennsylvania, I began preparations for sailing solo for a few days. I prepared the dinghy to be towed behind Kelly IV, as the forecast was for very calm seas. I also made sure I had ice and food for the trip, as I was hoping to avoid spending much money. In a way, this was to be one of a few preparatory trips before I begin cruising in 2011. I know I'll need to spend as little as possilble, anchor out almost entirely (very few marinas), and cook for myself rather than eat in restaurants.
I was eager to go and ready by 7:30am, but could not buy ice until 8am. I was out of the slip about 8:45am. I motored through Sandusky Bay, but it was a real pleasure as only one large powerboat tried to sink me with her wake. On the weekends, it seems there is an endless parade of powerboats whose only goal is to rock every other boat until they are swamped. The quiet Monday morning was a pleasant counterpoint to the crazy busy weekends.
Once I had cleared the Bay, I turned north and raised the genoa and mainsail, sailing on a beam reach for the entire trip. The breeze was out of the SE about 10 – 12 knots, so the sailing was near perfect. I turned WNW once I was past Kelleys and east of Middle Island in Canada. This put me at a point SW of Pelee Island where I could again sail north on a beam reach. Once I had sailed past Sheridan Point at the northwest corner of Pelee Island, I doused the sails and motored into the anchorage off Scudder Marina.
I rowed in with the dinghy and called Canada Customs to check in, as usual a quick and painless process over the phone. I'm afraid that US Customs will not be so quick or easy, but I will do it to avoid the very serious fines ($5K - $10K per offense). After taking an enjoyable walk from the north shore of Pelee to the Inukshuk, a large stone sculpture built last year by an artist and named by the local public school kids, I returned to Kelly IV and prepared for the possible thunderstorms forecast for overnight and morning.
I rigged the whisker pole as a crane, just as I'd tested it just a couple days ago, and successfully, if slowly, raised the dinghy onto the foredeck and disassembled it, stored it, and derigged the “crane”. I think I can easily use the same arrangement for the Portland Pudgy, especially if I can increase the block & tackle to a 5:1 instead of the current 3:1 advantage. I will have to rig chocks on deck for lashing the Pudgy on the foredeck, but that will eliminate the need to assemble/disassemble the Port-a-Bote. And the Pudgy will serve as my liferaft, as well as a sailing dinghy. The sailing function will serve me well when I have to use the dinghy over longer distances or in choppy waters when rowing is more difficult.
It was a good thing that Kelly was buttoned up and the dinghy tied in place on the port bow. A thunderstorm blew in about 0400. I would not have been concerned at all, except that the storm was blowing from the northwest, not the predicted south or southwest. This meant that my careful selection of an anchoring site was much too close to both the shore and a large cement seawall. Being a little concerned about the anchor breaking out and having to reset, I decided to take a GPS and sit in the cockpit and do an anchor watch. As the depth sounder never changed, the lights on shore stayed where they should have and the GPS showed a curved track as Kelly sailed back and forth on her anchor, it became clear that the anchor (CQR) was holding just fine. I went back to bed and slept well for the remainder of the night.
I was awake and ready to sail by 0830 on Tuesday morning. The forecast was for light air from the south clocking to the southwest. Instead the breeze was blowing about 10 – 15 knots while still in the bay on the north shore of Pelee island. It was strong enough that I could not pull the boat forward on the anchor line, so I tried a few other things. First I tried to pull in the line as Kelly IV sailed back and forth on her anchor, but the time when there was little tension on the line was so brief, it would have taken much too long to pull in the line that way. Next I tired putting the motor in forward gear. Even though the throttle was only at idle, it was too fast and I risked running over the anchor line and maybe even getting it caught in the propeller. I finally raised the mainsail, but only to the double reef, and that did the trick. There was enough slack at the end of each “sail” as Kelly IV went back and forth that I was able to easily haul in the line and chain and finally the anchor.
Figuring I could eat breakfast while sailing, I put a banana, Pop Tarts and water bottles in the cockpit and began sailing to the northwest, thinking that would be shorter as Sheridan Point does not stick as far north as Lighthouse Point (on the northeast corner of Pelee Island). As I reached a spot just north of Sheridan Point, I realized that as I turned to the south , the 1 – 3 foot waves were likely to both increase and beat us toward the island making it a lee shore, not a good thing. As gentlemen never (well, almost) sail to weather, I turned around and ran before the SW breeze to clear Lighthouse Point. There are a few shoals off the NE point and I scared myself a little as the depth sounder dropped into the low teens, when I didn't expect it to get below 20 feet. I turned away from the shoals and all was well.
Of course, as I turned south, I trimmed Kelly's sails for a close-hauled beat and sailed as close to due south as she could tack us. This meant beating into the waves, but on the east side of the island the waves didn't get greater that 2 feet until I had almost reached the southeast corner of the island. As the wind was forecast to stay in the SW overnight and into the morning, I decided to make Kelleys Island's north anchorage our destination. This meant turning directly into the wind as soon as we cleared the reef southeast of Pelee. Of course this meant running the motor and running right past Kelleys Triangle at the northeastern corner of Kelleys. Since we hadn't really tested the motor at this critical spot, I felt now was as good a time as ever.
Within minutes of turning on the engine and heading southwest, I realized I had company. In fact, the aluminum power boat with 4 large outboard engines of 300 HP each pulled up so close to my port quarter that I could easily hear the man on the bow tell me to maintain my course and direction. As I had no intention of turning either port or starboard (both directions would put me on a reef) it was easy to agree to do so. That this was an official vessel of the US Customs and Border Patrol also had something to do with my eager compliance. The gentleman on the bow began to ask me the questions we typically hear when returning to the US from a foreign country, including where had I been, where was I going, how long had I been in Canada, where was my boat's home mooring, etc. He went through about 5 minutes of questions and once doused me thoroughly with a bow wave, which is not surprising as we were bashing directly into 1 – 3 foot waves and his starboard bow was right next to my face as they kept pace with Kelly IV. I had to smile as the water dripped off me, for it was actually quite refreshing on this hot day and it gave me a chance to let him know I was pretty easy going and not going to cause any trouble. He finally took my name and birthday and returned to his pilothouse with his 2 comrades. About 10 minutes later, still pacing Kelly the whole time, he returned to the bow to wish me a pleasant week and they roared away with their 1200 HP taking them quickly into the distance.
It seems I had been cleared into the US while on the water, so I went directly to the anchorage on the north shore of Kelleys. There was another boat in the anchorage, and she was quite familiar. She was the sailing brig, Niagara! Apparently, she is spending a lot of time in the Erie Islands. It was very nice to sail past her into the same anchorage we had shared just a few weeks before.
It was very good that we arrived early in the afternoon as the forward hatch had leaked and the V-berth cushions were quite wet. Kelly IV looked like a Chinese laundry as the entire deck was covered with mattresses, towels, etc., all drying out in the breeze and sun. I had enough ice to last until the next day, so I didn't bother assembling the dinghy leaving Kelly. As the afternoon wore on and the breeze gradually dwindled, the heat became oppressive. On four occasions I jumped over the side to cool off.
The forecast for Wednesday evening and Thursday morning was for thunderstorms and they said “likely” instead of a “chance” which is the typical forecast. I figured they were serious, so I sailed early for Sandusky Harbor Marina so I could get tied up before any storms hit. About 0730 I pulled up the anchor, this time just pulling the boat up to the anchor as the wind was very light out of the southwest. As I sailed away from the island and away from the trees, the breeze had a stronger effect, so with full main and genny we were sailing on a nice run at about 4.5 knots. It was pretty cool to sail past the Niagara and hear some voices as they began their morning aboard.
Kelly and I turned due south after clearing Kelleys Triangle and headed for Sandusky Bay. By the time we had reached the South Passage between Kelleys and Marblehead, I could see the Niagara under motor behind us along the same coast we had just sailed past. Where we continued due south, though, Niagara turned west towards the Bass Islands. We soon lost her in the thick, humid haze.
We had to motor as our leeway took us east of the bay entrance, so I decided to just use the motor the rest of the way. As we had motored for several hours since our last fuel fill up, it was time to visit Battery park and top of the tank. Once done, we motored back to Sandusky Harbor Marina for my first ever solo docking with Kelly IV. Given the SW wind which was still less than 10 knots, I had it pretty easy as the breeze pushed Kelly right into her slip where she belonged with no fuss whatsoever.
All in all, it was a pretty cool experience and I am looking forward to doing a lot more solo sailing.