Great Breeze, Great Sail!
Great Breeze, Great Sail!Report Abuse
Great Breeze, Great Sail!
Jim Clark and I had a great sailing weekend October 2 – 4, 2009. Due to unexpected work duties, I didn’t meet with Jim until 9:30pm Friday night, but we took off for Sandusky anyway. Even so, we were moved aboard Kelly IV by 1am and got a decent night’s rest before departing Sandusky Harbor Marina about 10am on Saturday morning.
With southwest breezes forecast, we were able to sail immediately upon leaving the marina. First a beam reach to clear the coal pier, then wing & wing run to clear the harbor and bay. Jim had not been to Put-in-Bay before, so that was our destination for the weekend.
Since Kelly IV doesn’t point upwind very well, we found ourselves tacking to clear Starve Island and the southern end of South Bass Island. Otherwise, the sail was very exuberant and exhilarating! We reefed both main and jib but still heeled about 20 degrees and occasionally shipped significant spray across the deck. The new dodger definitely earned its stripes as it kept both Jim and I very dry. Jim manned the helm most of the way as I trimmed the sails. Once we cleared the southern end of South Bass Island, we easily sailed a beam reach up the west coast of the island. We enjoyed the clear view of the freighter turned house as it sat perched on a cliff overlooking the western coast of South Bass Island.
As sometimes happens when Jim sails Kelly (both III & IV), I got a few minor scares. Jim sailed us into the harbor at Put-in-Bay, slipping very closely past 2 or 3 mooring balls. I know if we had been sailing his boat, the distance to the mooring balls would have been double or triple the clearance Jim gave Kelly IV. I think he likes the idea of watching my heart leap from my throat! With reasonable grace we snagged a mooring, then called for the water taxi.
The big surprise came when we finally got an answer from the Boardwalk Taxi people. They told us they were trying to minimize their taxi service, given the late point in the season. I asked if that meant scheduled/limited service or none at all. The voice on the other end said they were trying to encourage people to tie up at the pier slips by the building. When I asked what incentive they were offering, the voice replied that the slips were available at no charge. I agreed that was a fine incentive and Jim and I immediately dropped the mooring and proceeded to the dock. Although the wind was still blowing a steady 15-18 knots from our starboard (southwest) side we managed to pull into a slip without touching any part of Kelly IV to the hard, rusty, threatening iron rails that made up the finger piers surrounding Kelly IV.
We enjoyed the afternoon and evening walking around Put-in-Bay as proper tourists, even enjoying the video at the Perry Monument and Museum. It was especially fun, as we’ve often sailed near the Niagara replica, featured frequently throughout the film.
The breeze on Sunday was forecast to be 20 knots with gusts to 26 knots, so we left before 9am to get away from the harbor before the breeze reached its full potential. By discussing and planning our departure carefully we were fully prepared to exit calmly and successfully. All would have been perfect if I had eased the motor into reverse to leave the slip, instead of forward. As it turned out, my error of moving forward briefly, then quickly reversing, did get us out of the slip, with only a bent anchor bracket to show as evidence.
We raised sails while still in the harbor, then sailed downwind (more southwest breeze) past Middle Bass Island and east past the northern shore of Ballast Island. A turn upwind had us sailing on a broad reach, then a beam reach across the northern coast of Kelley’s Island. The sail became increasingly more bouncy as we created more distance between us and the islands of South Bass and Middle Bass opening up the fetch between the islands and us. Given the stiff breeze we sailed under double reefed main alone until we reached the lee, east of Kelley’s Island. Jim took the helm as we scooted rapidly across the smooth waters but still brisk wind east of Kelley’s. The wind put us on a close reach as we were headed due south past Kelley’s towards the mouth of Sandusky Bay.
We made great time and improved our speed by unfurling a scrap of jib in the calmer waters east of Kelley’s. At first it seemed like our entrance to the bay would be fast, yet uneventful. Murphy’s Law being what it is, that didn’t happen. While we sailed south along Kelley’s, we took note of a freighter that seemed to be headed the same way. Although the freighter was still hull down (only the bridge deck was visible above the horizon) when we first saw it, it was coming toward Sandusky Bay from the northeast. We speculated as it drew nearer that it might be headed to Toledo or Huron, but it be came gradually clearer to us that both the freighter and Kelly IV were headed to the same Sandusky Bay channel. Since the freighter can occupy the entire channel all by itself, our mild interest gradually grew to significant concern. As we were entering the channel we found the freighter was rapidly coming up from our port quarter and there would be little room in the channel for both of us. Accepting the overriding “Mack Truck Rules of the Road” as the appropriate rules to follow (The biggest vessel has right of way, because he’s bigger.) Kelly IV calmly did a 360 degree turn to starboard so we ended up entering the channel behind the freighter.
We then topped off the diesel tank at Battery Park Marina and returned to Sandusky Harbor marina, where we docked safely, stiff breeze not withstanding.
Jim and I had a terrific weekend thanks to great company, free dockage and very exciting sailing, with the stiff breeze being what Kelly sails best.