Long Weekend Includes Canada, August 13-17
Long Weekend Includes Canada, August 13-17Report Abuse
Long Weekend Includes Canada, August 13-17
When you get 3 guys all well past 50 years of age, it seems just a little bit easier to get the time off to go sailing. At least that was the case this past weekend when Ollie Browne and John Stahl both finagled Monday and Tuesday away from work so the three of us could enjoy a long weekend of sailing. Since I was already on Kelly IV, John and Ollie shared the ride to Sandusky together. They stowed their gear, we discussed the weather and hit the rack for a good night's rest.
The forecast was calling for 5-15 knots of SW breeze, and a Chance of thunderstorms increasing to Likely Thunderstorms for Saturday night. Although we tried to sail to our anchorage north of Kelleys Island, the light air was so minimal that we simply motored. The clouds were looking a little grey and ugly, but certainly not as black and ominous as the more intense storms seem to be. We considered flying the drifter, but given the look of the sky, it seemed better to keep moving under power to be certain the anchor was down before the storms hit us. As Kelly IV turned west past the NE corner of Kelleys Island (known to Kelly IV sailors as Kelleys Triangle) the breeze picked up so we tried to sail without the engine running. Unfortunately, Kelly can't point very well so the SW breeze forced us to sail NW. In addition a light rain began to fall and the breeze fell off to less than 5 knots, so our sailing was curtailed only a few minutes after we began. The light rain and air were so minimal and ended so quickly that we hardly noticed any weather as Ollie and John set the anchor. Once Kelly IV was drifting calmly in the anchorage, we rowed the new dinghy ashore to see the sights. Of course, the Glacial Grooves are nearly a requirement to be seen, especially as they are only a short walk from the dinghy dock. From there we decided to walk into the “downtown” less than two miles to the south. It was particularly hot and steamy, so when 4 people in a 6 passenger golf cart offered us a ride, we took it. Of course that meant the three of us had to squeeze into a seat meant for 2 adults, but we made it work. After continuing to play tourist by visiting Inscription Rock, the 500 year old and greatly weathered stone bearing native inscriptions, we walked back to town (2 blocks) and cooled off in the air conditioning of the restaurant on the corner (Captain's Table?). The A/C was attractive enough to entice us to stay for a light dinner, before buying ice and getting a cab back to the dinghy. The thunderstorms didn't show up until Sunday night.
The weather on Sunday was beautiful and the forecast called for a shift in the breeze to the NW. That meant a new anchorage, as our current spot was open to the NW, N, NE and E. The best choice seemed to be Pelee Island and that included a trip to a foreign country, so that became our destination. Given the nice breeze out of the SW we never turned on the motor all day! John and Ollie pulled up the anchor and Kelly IV sailed away under John's eager guidance. To clear the shoals at Gull Island and Middle Island we had to head NW on a beam reach, then steer due north on a wonderful broad reach. With the sun glistening on the sparkling water, John worked the wheel to keep Kelly in her groove to the north. Once she reached her waypoint NW of Middle Island, Kelly's course became almost due East until Fish Point at the southernmost spot on Pelee Island was behind us. Then we'd be able to steer north into the anchorage in Pelee's South Bay. The ENE course put us on a run, so Ollie and I rigged the sails wing-and-wing, the most challenging of all points of sail for Kelly IV(and many other sloop rigged boats). John was up to the challenge and we made excellent time into South Bay. Since we are sailors, passing an entire day without using the motor is almost like achieving nirvana! To make it happen, we steered north into the anchorage on a broad reach, furled the jib to slow down, and watched the depthsounder until it showed 10 feet. At that point we merely turned back into the SW breeze until the boat's forward motion stopped. Ollie fed the anchor over the side as John and I dropped the mainsail. What a terrific day for a sail!
We needed more ice, so we rowed into the abandoned Dick's Marina, and caught a cab into what serves as Pelee's “town”, West Dock, where the ferries drop off and pick up their cars and passengers. We arranged for the cab to take us back to the dinghy after enjoying some very cooling ice cream. However the sky was looking pretty dark and ugly to the SW. We decided we didn't like the idea of rowing the dinghy into the wind and waves of a thunderstorm, so we waited out the weather. After about 45 minutes it became clear that all the weather was passing well south of Pelee, so we picked up our ice and returned to Kelly IV. Our plan was to stay in the anchorage and return the next day to play tourist on Pelee.
Our entertainment for the evening was a truly exciting event. The wind and weather continued to build through the evening and was coming over our bow from the southwest. The radio from the US Coast Guard kept blaring with weather alerts as we watched the black, boiling clouds roar past us to the south. Apparently Kelleys Island was getting plastered with lightning and rain. While the wind hit a pace of 25 – 35 knots in our anchorage, the weather alert was calling for winds of 35-45 knots south of Kelleys. It was a grand show as we observed Kelleys Island disappear behind a roiling curtain of black, punctuated with frequent and bright lightning strikes. Fortunately Kelly IV only saw the breeze and small waves as the wind continued out of the SW where our protection was minimal but sufficient. All the really rough weather, rain, and lightning was well south of us and even south of Middle Island, as it was always within sight never ducking behind any clouds or rain. In the morning the GPS showed us that the wind finally clocked around to the NW. That must have coincided with a drop in the windspeed and the disappearance of even the smallest waves in the anchorage. I woke enough during the night to notice that the waves were gone and the wind was merely a nice breeze, but not enough to actually get out of bed, so I drifted back into slumberland.
Monday morning dawned bright and gorgeous! There was a stiff 20 knot breeze out of the NW curling little wavelets across the dazzling sunlit waters. As we enjoyed our wake up time in the cockpit, it became clear that none of us wanted to play tourist when we had such excellent conditions for sailing. Ollie took the wheel and sailed us back into the US. The course is a simple one to the SW, but so short that we decided to enjoy the sailing. As Ollie steered us into the open waters between Kelleys Island and the Bass Islands, John and I just trimmed the sails as Ollie enjoyed steering through the 1 – 3 ft waves. Occasionally we would tack or jibe, but it was all a work of joy as the spray flew over the dodger and the sun warmed our smiling faces. The wind abated somewhat to about 15 knots as it adjusted itself to blow in from the west. While we continued to sail, it became clear that we better head in soon for Put-In-Bay so we could check in with US Customs. Ollie directed Kelly IV into the channel between Middle Bass Island and Ballast Island, then steered us south towards South Bass Island and Put-In-Bay. We dropped anchor, rowed into PIB and checked in with Customs. Suffice it to say that it would have gone better if I had remembered to bring my passport off the boat with me. As it was, they used the camera phone to look at me and ask me a few questions to confirm that I was who I said I was and eventually we were officially admitted back into the USA. Ollie talked us into a meal at the fancy Axel & Harry's Restaurant on the waterfront. It proved to be an excellent meal with wonderful service. Thank you Ollie!
We rowed back to Kelly IV and raised anchor as the westerly breeze made the anchorage at PIB a bit uncomfortable. It was only a short motor trip north into the anchorage on the east side of Middle Bass Island and we spent the night there. We had another good night's sleep and were on our way back to Sandusky by 0845. With the waves at less than 2 feet and the SW wind, Ollie, John and I took turns sailing Kelly IV on her last day of our long weekend. Across the north of Kelleys Island we sailed a very comfortable and fun broad reach, then trimmed the sails for a closehaul to the south making for the entrance into Sandusky Bay. After topping off the fuel, we reluctantly cleaned up the boat and headed for home. What a terrific weekend of sailing with great friends!