Monday, December 15, 2008

First sailing experience. God is still laughing.

We were bad on Sunday (yesterday). The weather was gorgeous. John and Wendy invited us for an outing on the Circe. So we decided to skip church and go on our first sailing trip.

It was necessary for us to leave between 9:30am and 10:00am. This will allow us to get back during daylight and beat the low tide in. The mouth of Circe’s marina is pretty shallow and she is a big lady.

We arrived at the dock by 8:45. John and Wendy stocked up on drinks and we brought rolls and fixings for sandwiches. We would not have power once we were under sail.

John had been warming the engines up starting about 8:30am. It was pretty calm so we uncovered the sails and rigged them up. You can see John doing some of the rigging above. We set off by 10:00am.

Below you can see the view leaving the marina. We could not have asked for a nicer day. There was not a lot of wind and the waves were only 1 to 2 feet. John and Wendy are still learning to sail and we had never been sailing before, so this was ideal weather. This was important to us because we also had John and Wendy's three children and our son on board.

This is John our captain.

Wendy the First Mate.

Or is that the captain and his mate?

We left the marina and motored out to open water. We raised the sails and cut the engines. It was lovely. I have never sailed before and I can not wait to go out again. With light winds and calm water we managed to get up to a speedy 3.8 to 4 knots. When we raised the jib Circe even hit 5 knots a few times.

The captain displays his supervising skills as I raise the head sail. When I finish raising the sail he remembers to tell me that I could have used the handle.

Debra takes a turn at the helm. That is John and Wendy's oldest on her right.

Once the sails were up we reverted to island time. Basically we just relaxed. Deb even snuck in an hour nap on deck. I learned some knot skills. Even the children had fun.

Yep that is a hand held game system. All four children had them. Why go out on deck when you can play with electronics?

Oh well. At least we got our teenager on the boat.
We sailed for about 4 hours and then we lowered the sails and started the engine.




That's not good. Lets try one of the other batteries.




All three batteries could not possibly be drained. Right?

God smiles.





Now what? AAA does not offer their service in the middle of the ocean. However, John and Wendy have triple A of the sea. Enter Towboat U.S.

He wasn't wearing a white hat. He did not have a white horse. There was no side kick.

He did wear mask and we were very happy to see him. He pulled up beside us. This was not easy. God had played one more trick on us. The wind had picked up and the seas were now 3 to 4 feet. His boat was a sleek 18 feet or so and he was pulling up to the 43 foot Circe. We managed to tie him along side and he handed over a battery charger.

For some reason the batteries would not charge enough to turn the engines over. So John finally made the decision to have Circe towed. Our Lone Ranger comforted John with these immortal words: "You aren't a sailor until you have been towed to port."

The tow back was a bit hairy. The Lone Ranger tied up to Circe's side and used his engines and Circe's rudder to steer. The waves were doing their best to make kindling of the smaller boat so he had to take us into the waves, and further out to sea, to avoid this.

It was dark when we finally arrived at the inlet. It was also low tide. John told me later that it was the lowest tide of the year. Did I mention that this inlet was shallow?

I was sitting on the deck, near the main mast, as we entered the inlet. I hear John from behind the wheel. "Hang on Henry." And, Circe eased herself into the sandbar for a short rest. The Lone Ranger tried valiantly to pull the Circe free, but she was tired and refused to move. I moved aft and retied the tow ropes so the Lone Ranger could pull us backwards off of the sandbar. The effort was heroic. The Lone Ranger’s boat pulled with all of its might and then one of the tow ropes parted. God was ready. The end attached to the tow boat flew back to the Lone Ranger and fowled his engine. Now the Circe was in the middle of the inlet and the tow boat was powerless and drifting to the rocks. Our Lone Ranger was a real pro and threw his anchor out. He cleared the line from his prop and managed to get his boat running again. We had put out the Circe’s anchor as a precaution as well. About an hour later we finally managed to guide Circe into her slip. God was laughing too hard to have me fall in when I made a 5 foot leap from the rescue boat to the dock. So we tied Circe up without any further incident.

Next week I’m going to church.


  1. I intend to share this with my sea going father. I will let you know what he says.

  2. I can't wait to hear from him.