Last weekend we departed from our usual routine of driving down to the boat on Saturday after Jeff gets out of work, and we went on Friday (after the shop closed) instead. This was because the marina was holding it’s annual “Ladies Night” with the Customer Appreciation party the following night.
Chatting at Ladies Night with our mooring neighbors, they mentioned that they were going for a sail the next day (Saturday). Since I was simply going to be hanging out on the boat all day while Jeff was at work, i brazenly invited myself along. It’s actually not as bad as it sounds. A retired couple with a 24′ O’Day, we’ve been friendly with them since the beginning of last season. They’ve previously stated that they are always happy to have extra people along on their sails, so I took them at their word for this occasion.
Saturday morning the dinghy outboard still wasn’t working so we rowed in and dropped it off with the mechanics (we learned our lesson after the big outboard debacle at the beginning of the season). After Jeff went off to work I proceeded to row back to the boat. It was a long, zig-zagging process – it was only my second time ever rowing a boat – but I told myself there was no other way to get better at it.
I headed out with our mooring neighbors around 11:30 a.m. for what they had said would be a “short sail.” Winds were at around 10 knots and it was a glorious day. More Chamber of Commerce weather. It was fun to simply be a passenger and not have to worry about rocks, depth, etc. I had never sailed so close to the New London Ledge Lighthouse before, and really wished that I had brought my camera. They had a neat tiller tamer that I was able to see in action (it’s on our must-have list now), and a handheld GPS which was convenient (we use our iPad for a chart plotter). However, while I liked their boat, it confirmed for me that I really love ours.
Their O’Day is the same size as ours but it’s about half the weight. While this means that the O’Day is faster (relatively speaking – we are talking about 5-6 knots after all), it felt a lot different when taking waves. The O’Day “hits” the waves. The Bristol coasts along on them. Like stomping your foot on a tile floor as opposed to carpet. Anyway, it helped to let me know that we are on the right track in the characteristics that we’re looking for in the “big boat” – heavy with a full keel. Slow, but forgiving.
Our planned “short sail” resulted in returning to the mooring ball six hours later! I didn’t mind in the slightest. Being on a sailboat is my favorite place to be, and it was really sweet to see how much they loved sailing around on their boat. We got back just in time for me to row back to the docks and meet Jeff for the customer appreciation party.
Saturday was glorious. Sunday was a reminder that the weather in New England is fickle, and no two days sailing on Long Island Sound are alike. It was still warm but the winds were up to about 15 knots. The chop wasn’t particularly bad in our marina, however, so Jeff and I fought off some laziness and decided to head out for a sail.
Wow! We were quickly reminded that our marina is fairly protected. Winds were at 15 knots with gusts up to 20, and there were 2-3 foot waves with whitecaps on the Sound. This was not what we were planning on (nor what our various weather and wind apps had predicted), but it was good practice for our upcoming vacation. We have had mild conditions for almost every sail this season, and it’s unlikely that will occur while we’re out cruising every day for two weeks. This was a good refresher course in how to sail in “friskier” conditions.
Jeff and I basically sailed around, tacking a few times (failed on the first one when I wasn’t aggressive enough with our turn and the waves pushed us back), and shaking off the cobwebs. The chop reminded me a bit of our trip to Block Island last September, and while I’d rather not have a repeat of those conditions, it was nice to have that experience to draw upon and boost our confidence. After about an hour it started to sprinkle and we called it a sail.
Back at the marina the weather rapidly improved (typical New England – if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute), and we enjoyed hanging out in the cockpit drinking cocktails, eating snacks, and finally firing up the grill for hotdogs for dinner. Another successful weekend on the Pegu Club.