An Adventure – Sailing in a Storm


Today’s Music: The Doors – Riders On The Storm

This weekend, I went sailing. For the first time in well over 10 years.
Oops.
Me and one other person on a 12′ Laser (it’s like a Sunfish). I had a blast. And learned that both sailing and storms are not quite what you remember them to be.

I don’t think the heavy stuff will come down for quite some time yet…


It took about half an hour to rig the laser. The sail needs to be fitted over the mast, mast gets raised and stepped, the boom is attached. Several lines and block and tackles are connected – the vang and traveller, the cunningham. The sheet is run through its cam and chock feed, and the tiller is connected.
We even remembered the daggerboard! (Yeah, I don’t use it either – I just slide it all the way down and leave it there.)

Looks pretty when it’s done right!


As we got ready to hump the boat down the ramp and into the water, we saw storm clouds in the distance. A storm cell, about 10 minutes off. we looked at each other.
“You want to go?”
“Sure. You?”
“Sure.”
Simple and to the point. And as it turns out, not really a problem.

You know that phrase, “the calm before the storm”? It’s absolutely true. We shoved off, got in the boat, and coasted out. Only to find that there was slightly more than absolutely no wind.
Fortunately, there are some tricks you can pull in that situation:
-Scull, or use the tiller as a paddle to gently propel the boat
-Roll tack – get the boat to lean over so that the sail forms a bowl. this will help it catch whatever faint breeze wanders past.

Of course, a laser is a tiny (light) little boat, but we managed to roll tack and get into some stronger breezes before we capsized. (I know, right? I’d have sworn we were going over too!)
Then came the storm. Or so we thought. Rain started falling, small drops disturbing the water, and some nice gusts. We rounded a buoy, both of us splitting our time between the tiller (steering) and the sheet (adjusting the sail to catch the wind).
I was actually surprised at how much I remembered, and how much fun I was having. Until…

Several other boats came out as the rain stopped. Bigger boats. With larger sails.
Which meant they were catching more of the faint breezes than us. Until the breezes stopped.
When the squall passes, the lake face settled into a glass sheet – no wind. On a boat with no means of really moving. Other than wind.
So we’re sitting on opposite sides of the boat to keep it flat, looking over the water for signs of breeze, and we see

Ok, it wasn’t that bad. But our boat was a lot smaller than this too…


Yup. A new storm cell. And this one looks a lot nastier than the first.
We look at it, then each other.
“Head in?
“Probably a good idea”
We start turning the boat, as a gentle breeze started pushing. We manage to get our bow pointed to the area we need to be when the rain starts. With drops the size of marbles.
In moments, the glassy lake surface is frothy, from the sudden gusts of wind and the pelting of the water.
Our conversation, which up until now had been general and far ranging, comes in short bursts:
“Turn to port! TURN!”
“Look out! BOAT!!!!”
“I can’t see anything!”
“Where the hell are we?!?”
“Who are you again?”

Ok, that last was me. What, I got distracted for a minute.
There was enough wind to sail now, but as often happens in a storm, it was coming from every direction at once, settling for a moment, then whipping back around to another direction.
We were swinging the tiller, yanking the sheet to bring it in or let it out. We were ducking under the boom trying to keep our weight in the right spot to keep from flipping.
We get about 30 yards from the boat ramp, in about 6 feet of water. The wind stopped again, and the storm cell settled over us, dropping buckets of never ending rain marbles straight down on us.
“How deep is it?” I yelled over the storm.
“I don’t know” was the answer I got.
I shrugged, and hopped out of the boat. We were in about four and a half feet of water. No problem. But the bottom was very soft mud.
Which means that while I have never slogged through poo, I can now speak quite knowledgeably about how it feels.

We got the boat up the ramp and broke it down in about 10 minutes. Sure, it took 30 to set it up, but it’s always easier to break something down. Plus it was pouring. And cold.
And I wanted nothing more than to be done with it for the day.

It looks so innocent under wraps…


But as Shandy commented in another post, even a bad day sailing is better than a day at the office.
True.
So now I’ve got a whole new set of sailing experiences that I will hopefully get to use before I forget them.
But next time, I’d rather go sailing here

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94 responses to “An Adventure – Sailing in a Storm

  1. You are quite the adventuresome one, … and I had no doubt that the storm clouds would scare you away! Well – two important things – you had one heck of a time and safely returned. BTW – outstanding song choice for this post.

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  2. In college, I worked at a marina. I loved the sail boats. A lot of fine details, cool tricks, and yes…so pretty when set up right.

    Great work, Guap! Glad you had fun and came out safe!

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    • Thanks Mel. I can (and do)still sit at the edge of a marina and just watch the boats bob at their moorings.
      It really was a lot of fun. Especially once I was home and dry!

      Like

  3. Start our lessons on Saturday. Hope we have as much fun as you did

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    • Congrats John! Hope you have a blast – it’s used to be one of my favorite ways to spend time, everything from exhilarating, to sublimely relaxing.

      What kind of boats are you learning on?

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  4. Hi,
    Wow, what an day with plenty of excitement as well, I bet the adrenaline was pumping during the storm. Isn’t it amazing how things come to us even if we hadn’t done them for awhile.
    Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed it all though and you got home safe, that is a very good day. πŸ™‚

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    • Thank god, those skills come back to us, Magsx2! There were a few moments where it could have gotten awfully uncomfortable. but yes, I did have a good time, especially standing on solid ground after…

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  5. Oh you brought back a lot of memories — sailing while in high school was a great pass-time. I’m pretty sure I never went sailing without capsizing, though. Fortunately, though, I never landed in poo.

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    • I remember an old sailor I went out with a few times, Elyse. He said there were 3 kinds of sailors – those who ran aground, those who hadn’t run aground yet, and those who lied about it.
      I think the same applies to the mud-poo. You’re just part of the 2nd group. πŸ˜€

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  6. Sounds exciting!

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  7. First of all, love the captions!
    I’m glad you got to go sailing again after so long, and at least it wasn’t boring!
    Also, in light of your song choice (another good one, btw) is your brain squirming like a toad after your Perfect Storm Adventure?

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  8. I once had a lovely time sailing a sunfish….no wind, so I wasn’t really sailing..swam home with a rope between my teeth, pulling the sailboat.
    Just a FABULOUS experience. Glad you made it back!

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  9. Weenie Girl

    Wow, EG, sounds like a great outing. I’ve sailed in weather like that before. It can be very exciting…especially if you’re not out there alone. It’s best when there’s someone to share it with.

    Tell me, was it your destiny to have been chosen to slog through poo or did you and your sailing buddy fight for that opportunity? Just the thought makes me want to take my boat out for a ride.

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    • It was an excellent outing, WG, and it has me looking for sailboat rentals near the city. Maybe an ensign or Corinthian that you can actually sit in.

      In the end, someone had to get out, so after some unhelpful conversation, I just slid into the water. And the poo.

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      • Weenie Girl

        Re: your music selection..there’s an excellent video on youtube of a laser sailor and the music is Come Sail Away by Styx. Not my favorite song but absolutely appropriate. The video is called Tom Slingsby Sailing. Slingsby is the Laser champion of the world. In 2012 he won it for the 5th time. He’s got some great footage. Maybe when my skill improves towards his, you’ll join me for an outing.

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  10. On the edge of my seat on that one! Sounds exciting!!! I had a ride on a Farr 40 tonight but the races were called off due to high winds…. Glad to hear you made it safely back to the dock and still want to go back out!!

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    • I was never as much of a fan of racing, Shandy. I just like going fast and heeling. But I feel your pain – I’ve been on sloops, gotten them rigged and ready to untie when sailing was cancelled due to a change in conditions that a simple reef in the sail or a storm jib wouldn’t compensate for.
      It’s really frustrating.

      Hope your ride heads out soon!

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  11. Oh wow! That sounds both awesome and like such a pain in the ass. I guess it’s one of those things that you simply have to do to ‘get’ it and I didn’t date the writer/sailor long enough to find out.

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  12. Your gal’s sense of music is impeccable! Hope next time out is just as exhilerating πŸ™‚

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  13. Pingback: An Adventure – Sailing in a Storm | Guapola | Sailing Times

  14. thesweetkitten

    What a story! Love the music, we often listen to it while being on the road.

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  15. Days at the office are eating up my spirit I need fresh air! Thanks to share this! Even a bad day sailing experience can lift me up. πŸ˜€

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    • You’re welcome, ristinw. And I’m right there with you on the evils of the office. Can’t wait for them to institute the global 4 day work weeK!

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  16. The mother in me would have to ask, “What were you thinking going out in weather like that?” Your behavior reminds me of the adage…The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. πŸ™‚

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    • I took my mother out sailing once, Stacy Lyn. She laughed herself silly, and at the end, swore she’d never get on a small boat like that again.
      But at least she saw what I loved first hand.

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      • Well then, you and MY mom would get along just fine. She once took me on her big sailboat and I swore that I would never get on another sailboat again – big or small.

        I know your mom loves to see you happy, even if sailing is not her thing. ❀

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  17. Sounds scary but fun. Glad you made it back in one piece

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  18. wonderful adventure! I love how you told the story. Great post!

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  19. Cool. I’m jealous.

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  20. Wow, kinda scary. And thanks for the knowledge, as I’m of the land-lubber variety.

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  21. Good Goid… I have had this up for hours… trying to think of something that doesn’t sound ridiculous… or does but in normal way (yes.. I am aware that it;s never normal) well not never..ok maybe never.. .well for sure good music choice.. ( Hi TMWGITU πŸ˜‰ ) Glad you had fun and weathered the storm.. I would have killed you if you drowned… maybe kicked the boat too. My Uncle has taken me sailing several times.. on Lake Michigan and somewhere in Europe… and once my cousin took my brother and I on this teeny tiny boat on Lake Erie… I loved it but I am not partial to large bodies of water….no wait.. I am, just not to be in them in the middle on a small vessel … What was the total amount of time you were out on the water ??

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    • I’d have been very grumpy if I drowned too, LizzieC. but would probably have remembered to get in that last “Oops” before it happened.
      We were out for about an hour, maybe a little more. And maybe 15 minutes of that was spent “in” the water as opposed to “on” it.

      At the end, I was surprised at how much I’d missed it…

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  22. I’ve never been sailing. Sounds like fun in or out of a storm.

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    • Gliding over the water with no sound but the slap of water on the hull and the snap of the sails is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced, kayjai.
      This wasn’t one of those days, but like you say, fun either way.

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  23. free penny press

    Great story.. I used to have a sailboat like that.. loved it.. Indeed, I’d rather be sailing any day..:-)

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  24. Yes, so would I rather go sailing in the sunny place. My dad had a yacht (little) when I was a kid and we went sailing around Sydney Harbour and outside it quite a few times. It was good when someone else was doing the scary stuff. Have you ever seen that film where the people stand on a jetty like in the pic and then this big wall of water comes and swishes everything away? What movie WAS that! (no it wasn’t the boxing day tsunami, it was fiction).

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    • Hmm…The Day After? Not sure which movie…
      I’m curious, beautiful – which parts count as the scary stuff?

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      • The scary parts – well a lot of it, like the boom coming across and having to make sure your head wasn’t in the way of it, or knowing which way to point the sail to catch the wind when you’re tacking, that kind of thing. Being responsible. The fun bit is sitting there in the sun looking at the waves whipping past the Opera House.

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  25. whiteladyinthehood

    Guapo, I loved this post! It was so full of action and your humor! I could imagine the adventure! Great Doors song!

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  26. Great story and it brings back lots of wonderful sailing memories for me, all of which occurred in sunny places except when we got caught in the sudden thunderstorms that can pop up in the hot summer afternoons. There is nothing quite like standing by the mast trying to take down sails as you head in to the marina in torrential rain with lightening crackling around you.

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  27. First of all, amazing song! One of my favorites.:) And second, I loved the post! It’s adventurous and amazing! Superb!!

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  28. You’re so adventurous! Sailing terms confuse me. I would need to take a year long class to figure out what I was doing. Good for you for surviving!

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    • Thanks Lily. there are waaay too many terms. At one point my partner yelled “turn left!” and it took me a minute to figure out they meant “port”.
      Ok, maybe that’s a bad example… πŸ˜‰

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  29. My word… I know I should be saying something like “Awesome” or “radical adventure” but all I can’t stopping thinking Holy Crap!” I’m sure if that was me in that boat you would have had the experience of walking through poo way before you jumped out and landed in the muck! I’m so glad things worked out ok for you. And yes… love that song πŸ™‚

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  30. Eric Murtaugh

    Sounds awesome! Never been sailing. I might have to work on that.

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    • That surprises me, Eric – I’d have thought it would be right up your alley.
      It’s one sport where you can go from heart-pounding exhilaration to calm serenity, just by where you’re steering to the wind…

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      • Eric Murtaugh

        It’s totally up my alley, but the closest I’ve come is my buddy’s canoe sailing rig, which was interesting. The only technical thing I was responsible for on that trip was dumping water out with our extremely technical water dumper outer (Read: half a milk jug). We were actually zipping across a lake at high speeds, and we somehow didn’t flip the thing.

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        • Yeah, I read “canoe sailing rig” and my eyes almost popped out of my head. That sounds ridiculously unsafe.
          Where do I sign up?

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          • Eric Murtaugh

            Totally unsafe. Buddy inherited an old fashioned rig from his grandpa. Pretty sure it’s designed for one person, but whatever. It’s pretty awesome, actually.

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  31. *Pouts demurely* I want to go next time.
    Red.

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  32. I used to go to sailing camp as a kid. I don’t remember a thing about it other than it was a lot of fun. We used to capsize on purpose.

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    • I didn’t get to go sailing until I was in college, Carrie. But if I’d gone earlier, I nver would have known that you can float in the bay on a full six pack, so…

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  33. EG, are you in motion when you sleep too? πŸ™‚ continue…

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  34. TMWGITU has excellent taste in music!! “slightly more than absolutely no wind”…..awesome!! I haven’t sailed since I was a kid…not sure how I’d do in a storm.

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Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

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