Pegu Club was splashed on Friday, May 1st so we headed down to the marina on Saturday the 2nd to get her rigged and hopefully go for a sail.
The outboard for the dinghy is not cooperating yet, so we (meaning Jeff) rowed out through the nearly-empty mooring field. Pegu Club was one of the first three boats in the water. It felt GREAT to be out there again, and instantly made all of the cold weather preparations worth it.
Climbing on board, the first order of business was to check the seacock installation and make sure there was absolutely no sign of water. Holding our breaths, we opened up the cabinet door and took a look (and feel). Success! Knowing that we weren’t going to have to radio the guys to give her an emergency haul, we got down to work.
Rigging the boat went much more quickly than last year. At the end of our first season when we removed the sails, took off the boom, etc. we had taken many pictures from just about every angle. We figured it would help us when we had to reverse the process six months later. It did. We used a few of the photos this season, but it’s definitely getting easier to remember what we’re supposed to do.
By the time we were finished we had enough time to sail, but absolutely no wind. Oh well. We cracked open a celebratory cider (for me) and beer (for Jeff), and loafed in the cockpit for the rest of the day.
Sunday the 3rd also didn’t promise much wind, but we drove down to the marina anyway hoping that the forecast would be wrong. It wasn’t. We ran the outboard for twenty minutes (minor heart attack on my end when it stalled within a minute after starting, but Jeff quickly figured out I hadn’t sufficiently primed the fuel bulb – it purred like a kitten after that). More loafing followed.
Saturday the 9th we drove down early hoping to get a sail in before heading back home to attend a party at our friends’ house. The wind forecast was light but workable, and we hoped we might be able to ghost along. After we were settled in, I looked around and saw such a pretty sight.
“Look at the clouds, Jeff. Isn’t that cool?” “That’s fog rolling in.” Doh!
Within minutes, the mooring field was socked in:
We had some wind, but no visibility. Thwarted again. We made some adjustments to the roller furler, and that was that.
Sunday the 10th saw a last-minute change in plans, but we were finally able to try again on Saturday the 16th. By then we had learned that Jeff was going to be able to take Thursday and Friday off before Memorial Day weekend, giving us a 5 day weekend. Through a quirk in the calendar he isn’t going to get any “real” vacation time at his new job until July, 2016, so this is going to be vacation for the year and we’re hoping to spend it on Block Island. In order to feel comfortable with a sail of that distance so early in the season, however, we really wanted to get a “shake down” sail in first.
It wasn’t sunny, but it wasn’t foggy, and while there wasn’t going to be much wind, it would be enough. Although it was very calm at the mooring, the water didn’t look as glassy just outside of the Bay so we took a chance that there would be enough wind and headed out. Temps were in the mid-50’s, the wind ended up to be around 5-7 knots out there, and we enjoyed simply sailing aimlessly for a while, practicing our tacks and jibes. It felt great to be out there, and we had virtually the entire Sound to ourselves, sharing only with an occasional motorboat, the tugboat John Paul from Newport (who passed us when we were motoring under the Newport Bridge last fall!), and the ferries.
The conditions were perfect for the first sail of the season, and as we were out there we took note of a few things we had forgotten to do (put cotter pins in the turnbuckles, lubricate the jib cars). Although we wanted to stay out longer, we were both getting a little chilled and the light wind we had was starting to die, so back in we went with our first sail of the season under our belts.
Before the season began we had discussed how we should trade roles this year. Like most couples, we had settled into a groove. In our case I worked as the helmsman the vast majority of the time, while Jeff raised and lowered the sails, handed the sheets, and dropped/picked up the mooring line. While there’s nothing wrong with that, we really should get to the point where we are comfortable and proficient at all of the tasks. That way if something were to happen to one of us, the other would still be able to sail the boat and get us back in.
We figured for the first sail of the season we would already be a bit rusty, so why not jump right in with the role reversal? Jeff motored us in and out like a champ, taking us right to the mooring ball. I raised and lowered the mainsail (and realized I should bring a winch with me next time), unfurled and furled the jib, and handled the lines. Overall it went well, but I’m glad we’re going to regularly alternate this year because I need a bit of work on my line handling technique.
After we were back on our mooring and had tucked everything away, I practiced rowing with the dink. Jeff has been tossing around the idea of rowing the dink instead of having an outboard, whose main job seems to be to torment us. There are definitely some pros and cons to the idea, so we’ve been testing it out for now. I like rowing, but rowing in a straight line continues to elude me. Hopefully with more practice.
We enjoyed our first overnight on the boat, grilling some sausage with arugula and sun-dried tomatoes for dinner. The water was calm all night, and it felt great to once again feel the boat gently rocking as we fell asleep.
The next day promised to be beautiful – mid 70’s and decent wind. We were up early to help out at the club’s sailing school breakfast (the club will be the subject of a future post), and when I poked my head out it was such a pretty sight.
Unfortunately, if you look closely you can see a harbinger of the day to come. Fog. And lots of it. I think the problem is that it’s been unseasonably warm but the water is still extremely cold (low 50’s). It was bright and sunny on the mooring, but just outside of the bay you couldn’t see a thing. We couldn’t see Fishers Island, the New London Ledge, the North Dumpling. Nothing. We weren’t going anywhere.
So it looks like our next sail will be on Thursday to Block Island, weather permitting. It will be the first time we’ve sailed there in May, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how different the island looks in the spring vs. the fall. We’ll be bringing our new manual foghorn with us that we decided to pick up at Defender on Sunday. Hopefully that will ensure that we won’t need it!