Labor Day! Sunny, warm, with wind fresh and steady. WSW 10 kts gusting to 16, yellow flag when we got there around 11:30, but a couple of stronger gusts came through as we were getting ferried to a Sonar and the flag went red. Red these days at CBI pretty much means keelboats reef. Oh darn, I wasn’t going to have to work as hard. With the wind, the Sonar handles just fine without the jib so we cast off the mooring with main only and had no problems getting underway and out the cut. In fact I was a little tense at first, not having been on a Sonar under red flag in a while. After a couple of tacks though, and seeing that the “gusts” today were relatively gentle, I took a breath and relaxed.
We beat to windward. I coached Stacy on sheeting the jib hard before it fills on the new tack because without a winch handle it’s about impossible to sheet when it’s full. I practiced sheeting with the traveler and before we knew it we were at the Mass Ave bridge. I coached Stacy on the bear away. We went though it and were flying downwind. Broad reach, my favorite way to go downwind was fun, but in the stronger wind I wanted to practice DDW, Dead Down Wind. I bore off more and Stacy was able to fly the jib opposite the main in wing-and-wing or “milkmaid” configuration. We did some jibes, we slalomed through kayaks, and beat back to the bridge.
On this second run, I thought I’d try something new, “heave to.” I explained it Stacy, we tacked, I gave the boat a moment to lose its headway and was able to bungee the tiller to leeward with the bungee that holds it centered while the boat is moored. The boat was lying hove-to nicely, I scooted forward on the bench and kicked back. It was like having a blanket in the park except it was a boat on the water. Actually I liked watching how the boat responded to gusts and lulls. After a while Stacy and I traded sides of the boat and I got the other perspective on how the boat was maintaining a stable heading through gusts and lulls. Eventually, after drifting maybe half the length of the basin hove to, I had Stacy bring the jib across as I bore off to broad reach and trimmed the main. We were up to speed in seconds.
We sailed around at east end of the basin for a while, kind of stalling because we had decided to go in after two laps but it was so nice out there! Actually, as we had suspected, the flag was back at yellow. Really there had just been a couple of gusts that justified the red flag. I decided to try one more little technique before we went in, we’d shake out the reef. I headed up, pulled the reef ties as the boom came in, and tacked us over to heave to again. Cunningham off, vang off, reef line off, then hoist the main. Main halyard on the cleat, cunningham on, vang on, then out of heave to and we pulled the trigger! It was fast and easy. The boat was noticeably faster with the full main, but we were done. One more tack and through the cut.