Port Colborne - What a Ride! - 7/6/2005
Port Colborne - What a Ride! - 7/6/2005Report Abuse
For this past July 4 weekend, our Crew consisted of Troy Cain (Skipper/Owner of Persistent), Jim Clark (Skipper/Owner of Maggie’s Mate), and Rob Matthews (Skipper/Owner of an unnamed 30 foot live-aboard trailer). The wind was blowing 20 – 25 knots out of the west with 3 – 5 foot waves. With the wind on our port quarter, we flew our full 150 Genoa jib and full main. We were blasting along at a consistent 7 plus knots. Theoretical hull speed for Kelly III’s 21’ 9” LWL is only 6.25 kts. How did Kelly III exceed her theoretical maximum? We were regularly surfing down the front of the waves! What a ride! Jim kept saying, “Did you see how big that one was!” When Troy and Jim took their watch at 9pm, Troy (of course) kept steering for maximum speed rather than following the course. In this case, it was agreed by all on board that it was worth doing since the ride was easier. The breeze was now out of the NW and gusting above 25 knots regularly so it was both faster and easier on the boat’s motion to keep the wind on the port quarter rather than on the beam. As a result, Troy kept getting readings over 8 knots and finally when a really large wave gave us huge boost, the speedo read 8.8 knots! Yeah, Jim, it was a REALLY BIG Wave! As sunset approached we changed the jib to the Yankee and reefed the mainsail, but we still maintained over 6 knots and were able to steer closer to our course through the night. Another element of excitement was that Rob discovered he had diarrhea. Before we left Erie, I had explained that no one uses the head on Kelly III if there is any other choice (everyone used the marina head before we left in an effort to follow that suggestion). Unfortunately, Rob had no choice. As Troy was working on setting a new speed record on Kelly III, Rob was in the head learning the joys of sitting on a bucking bronco while trying to rid his body of . . . well, you get the idea. Rob did so well and enjoyed the ride so much that he decided to go back for a second ride! ;-) Out of his experience, we now have a suggestion for another winter project: seat belts for the head!
Our watch schedule was 3 hours on, 3 hours off, with 2 people standing each watch. As Jim and Troy sailed through their watch, Rob and I tried to get some sleep, knowing we were on watch from midnight to 3am. Without being able to see the waves in the dark, we took many more waves over the sides and bow of the boat. On at least one occasion, Troy ducked and the full force of what felt like a large bucket of water hit Jim smack in the face! In my bunk on the port side of the cabin, I felt and heard the bang of the larger waves as they hit the hull. About 15 seconds after the sound, I would feel the steady drip of cold water onto my back from the leaky window above my bunk. I was so tired, I just pulled my foul weather jacket over me and fell asleep. Rob and I were still pretty tired when we took our places in the cockpit for our watch. The change from the warmth of our sleeping bags to the 57 degree wind and spray woke me enough to take the tiller and steer for Canada. Rob successfully fought off some nausea while I tried to avoid waves I couldn’t see. At one point I was sure I saw the green side light and two white masthead lights of a freighter, but the lights never got very close and eventually disappeared altogether. By mid-watch, I was feeling very sleepy. In spite of the cold air, wet spray, and random bouncing off the waves, I kept fighting to keep my eyes open and looking around 360 degrees of open lake. Rob had been feeling better for some time, having beaten the nausea into submission, so he took the tiller. Since I was still officially on watch, I stayed in the cockpit, but Rob was feeling pretty good, so he let me sleep across the cockpit from him while he steered Kelly III. I think I dosed for almost an hour while wind, spray, and waves failed to wake me up! When I awoke, I was refreshed enough to give Rob a break on the helm. Troy and Jim reclaimed the helm soon after when they came back on watch. Since none of us had sailed into Port Colborne before, we decided to wait for daylight to enter the harbor. Even with our longer route, our fast sail got us to Port Colborne before dawn. Jim and Troy just took it easy as the wind finally backed off and was reduced to a quiet breeze. They even felt sorry for me and let me sleep until well after dawn before waking me to enter the harbor.
We lucked into a July 2 Party Weekend and got a great breakfast at the marina, served by the local sailing club. After wolfing down eggs, bacon, pancakes, orange juice, etc., we were ready for a shower and a brief nap then off to explore the Welland Canal and Port Colborne. There were a couple lake freighters and one huge Canada Coast Guard tow ship in the canal so we got to see them raise the bridge at the southern (Lake Erie) end of the canal. We enjoyed walking through town, poking around some of the boats in the marinas, and just being lazy. By sailing through the night, we had all day to relax and enjoy our destination. We decided to enjoy a quiet dinner in the restaurant overlooking the Sugarloaf Marina where Kelly III was docked. For some reason we were all pretty tired, so after a brief time relaxing in Kelly III’s cockpit we called it a night. Given our early bedtime, we woke with the sun and found ourselves enjoying a terrific breakfast at a little crepe place Jim had noticed by the Welland Canal. Rather than just hang around Port Colborne we all prepped Kelly III for the return trip and motored out of the marina and into the lake. Unlike the sail east, the winds were so light as to be non-existent. We ended up running “old-reliable” (my new name for Kelly III’s Atomic 4 gas engine – Thank You Nelson Roller, Ace Mechanic) for the entire trip back. Except for a line of fishing markers (at least we think that is what they are) it was a very uneventful day on the water. On our approach to Erie, we experienced several different fireworks displays as the various towns on the lake celebrated Independence Day. Even though it was after 10pm when we motored through the main channel into Presque Isle Bay, it was becoming pretty straightforward to negotiate Erie Harbor at night. Things did turn a little tricky as Jim guided us into Marina Lake in Presque Isle State Park to our anchorage for the night. As Jim followed the range lights, there were many small boats moving around the channel entrance and it took some focused concentration to figure out where the boats were, where they were heading and what we had to do to avoid hitting them or the bottom.
We awoke in the quiet anchorage to realize that we were at the end of our long weekend. After pulling up to the State Park gas dock, we pumped out the head, refilled the gas tank and headed back to Bay Harbor Marina to disembark Troy and Jim. Rob and I stayed on board for one last day, since Rob’s plane didn’t leave until the next evening. Rob and I docked at Smuggler’s for lunch, leaving with a busted bowsprit, thanks to a small error in my docking judgment. We decided to take it easy and anchored back in Marina Lake. With the anchor down the heat began to get the better of us. We rigged the tarp I keep on board as a sun shade, but it was still much too hot, so we jumped into the water to cool off. Overnight, Rob was chased below from his bunk in the cockpit by a nasty thunderstorm. While it blew so hard that the spume and spray nearly hid the State Park lights from view, it was all over in about fifteen minutes. The anchor held and the tarp stayed where we tied it, so we just went back to sleep. The weekend proved to be a terrific sailing trip with lots of excitement, but nothing scary (if you don’t count Rob’s bronco ride in the head!), balanced with a mostly quiet anchorage and almost boring motor west across the lake. Definitely a weekend enjoyed by all.