First though, a link relevant to last week’s post, When to communicate… an article at Sailing World, describes the situation I discussed with a boat on starboard and multiple boats on port. (See the section “crowded situations.”)
Now, the first Sonar lesson: don’t run aground. Oh, I did. It was almost comical but still horribly embarrassing. It happened leaving the mooring. Green flag, wind was East at 1kt gusting to 6 by the CBI dock. That means blowing somewhat toward the island from the mooring. I was starting from a mooring ball closest to the island. That means very little room to maneuver, little room for retries if thing go wrong. … Almost any accident has multiple factors that lead to it. A factor here was that I didn’t take measures to ensure that I would get off the mooring as reliably as possible and not need that retry. A typical mooring cast off involves planning which tack you want, and either waiting for the boat to be heading in the right direction or backing a sail to get the boat heading in the right direction. I typically don’t bother. I just have my crew cast off and then I sail from however the boat happens to be headed. Bad plan here. I had my crew cast us off. We happened to be stationary, head to wind. This didn’t concern me a bit. Close as we were to the island, there was plenty of room to back up and fall off on port. I did. The sail filled, and then … the boat made leeway. More leeway, it wouldn’t start making headway, and wouldn’t do anything except round back up to windward. Now I was starting to get concerned. There was still a little room behind me. I could try again, but no, not enough was different. I needed the jib, which was furled. Becoming a bit frantic, I had Stacy unfurl it. She held the jib sheet the only way she knew, which of course was not backed. I was shouting by then for her to let go of it. … You know, shouting just hardly ever works. It was too late. I felt the keel nestle gently against the island. I listened, watched, and waited a few seconds to see if maybe the boat would rotate against the island or begin to drift off the end of the island, but no, the light and steady wind was holding the boat in place. In resignation I refurled the jib and dropped the main half way to signal the dockstaff for help.
The next Sonar lesson was soon after we had been freed from island and had entered the basin. The top batten was stuck on the backstay. I had a terrible time freeing it. In the first jibe, it stuck again. The only thing I could think of that might help enough was lowering the mainsail a bit. I had made sure when I rigged that I had the main hoisted to the top of the mast. Now it seemed that full height was too much. There were a few inches between the tack and the boom. I eased the halyard those few inches and retightened the vang and cunningham. Another jibe to see if it worked. The batten stuck again but at least this time it took only a little push on the backstay to free it. The “fix” seemed to be enough.
The air temperature was mid-70’s after a week of days near or over 90 and the day was wonderfully pleasant. Our Sonar was in demand and we yielded it after an hour. After rigging an Ideal 18 on a mooring, one in the middle of the mooring field this time, I wanted to try again at casting off in irons. I failed! I tried to have the Ideal 18 stationary and head to wind for the cast off, but I couldn’t hold it head to wind. It fell off and began making headway immediately. Experiment over, we just went sailing. But was it just two random events or are the Sonar and the Ideal different in this way? The Sonar jib is larger (relative to the main) than the Ideal. So the jib of the Ideal may not make as much difference as it does on the Sonar. That is, the Ideal may stay relatively well behaved without the jib, including naturally making headway under more conditions. The Sonar may be more “crippled” without its jib, and may be more prone to making leeway, much as a Mercury is prone to making leeway under main only. Just some ideas. It will take more experience to confirm.
Anyway, we sailed a little more in the beautiful weather, without further incident.