Departure Imminent

Here’s the email I just sent out to a bunch of friends who are experienced sailors. If you have sailing experience and did not get this email, please drop me a line and I’ll definitely put your email address on the list for future crew calls.

So, yeah…Further and I ARE going to head back home to New England in the next few weeks. No really, we are. Unless, of course, someone here in Naptown offers me a killer job…  😉

Greetings Experienced Sailing Friends!

I’m sending this email to you now that we’re well into the month of May. The time to head north to New England and home is approaching and I was hoping to gauge both your interest and availability to make the journey from where Further is here in Annapolis to her summer mooring on the Merrimack River in Newburyport, Mass. My game plan is to see when you folks are available and interested in making the journey, and then working with your schedules as needed. I’m hoping to have three people along for the trip (two watches of two people) and will coordinate however it works best for all involved. So please, send me a note with any thoughts you might have about timing — even if it’s to say you have zero interest or can’t make it.

A rough estimate makes it a 3.5-day-plus trip from Naptown to Plum Island. It’s about 48-50 hours to Block Island (a bit more to Newport), and then another 24 or so from there to home. My thought is to head to Block Island (I’ve never been and have always wanted to check it out), spend a day or so there and then head for home. Other detours (New York City? The Vineyard or Nantucket?) are certainly possible as well, based on what folks want to do. Or a sprint straight for the destination is an option if your time is limited. Mitigating factors will be weather (of course) and trying to time our arrival at the Merrimack on an incoming tide.

Further is ready to go but I have a few things to finish off before hitting the road (dinghy is at the shop; need a header tank for the water heater or there’s no hot water at sea; I want to install the SSB; etc.) so I’m not heading out for a couple of weeks at least. I was thinking the week of Memorial Day (which is on May 28) or the first week of June.

So…what is your availability and interest for a departure sometime between, say, May 26-27 and June 4-6 (give or take)? If folks’ schedules mean we get pushed back to June 11, well, that’s an option too (and the full moon party at The Boatyard is on June 7…). [Author’s note: I see I got the date wrong for the next party…sorry about that.]

Anyway…again, just looking to see if you have ANY interest and are available to join me and Further as we head into the Atlantic and back home in the coming weeks. I’d welcome any thoughts you might have, and I appreciate you letting me contact you for something like this. I hope you’re all having a fun spring and that you have a fun summer lined up (speaking of which: Further will be in need of crew as she plies the waters of northern New England this summer…).


A Few Lessons Learned

I took Further out today with an instructor from the Annapolis Sailing School aboard. Capt. John Cosby was aboard a few weeks ago when we motored around Annapolis Harbor just getting the feel of the boat. This time, I wanted his help working out a few systems on board Further.

And boy, did we.

The forecast was for decent wind and the forecast was accurate: blowing from the south — right up Chesapeake Bay — in the high teens and above, with whitecaps and two-foot waves marching along to the north. As when I’ve been aboard with friends lately, I tried to do everything myself in order to simulate singlehanding the boat. And I did that today as well. John monitored what I was doing, offered pointers as I worked through various things and was a good safety net just in case.

Exiting Back Creek, I steered off toward the southeast and set the autopilot to head us right into the wind. I hoisted the mainsail and returned to the cockpit, where I shut down the engine and fell off to the north to let the sail fill. That set, I unfurled the jib and we started rollin’, baby.

We went over 9 knots a few times and, to be honest, steering the boat was getting to be a good bicep workout. We were overpowered and Further exhibited quite a bit of weather helm: she kept wanting to turn up into the wind. It’s part and parcel of how she’s designed, and it can be exhausting to the helmsman. Not to the boat, however: Further handled it like a champ. She’s MUCH happier rolling along in some real wind.

But wearing out sailors at the helm is not how any non-racing boat should be sailed, so after John and I got out near the Bay Bridge we tacked back toward town, still rockin’ along at an 8-plus-knot pace. I rolled up the jib to the second furling marker on the tack and that calmed things down, and as we neared shore the wind eased a bit  more. We turned the boat back to the east but this time we let the jib stay backwinded: I wanted to see how Further would handle heaving to. And while we were hove-to, I went back amidships and, with John’s help, sorted out the various lines all clustered at the base of the mast. That accomplished, I then set a reef into the mainsail — turns out I knew what I was doing but I wanted a pro’s supervision the first time I did it aboard this new boat — and returned once again to the cockpit.

Falling off the wind this time, Further was much calmer. She sailed a bit more upright and the weather helm was gone — I didn’t even need to hold onto the wheel to keep the boat on the proper heading. But we were still doing 6 to 6.5 knots. So it was a couple of lessons learned AND a great time out on the bay on my boat.

There was one other lesson learned today, this one yet another in a long line of lessons along the same theme. John and I returned to my dock where he stepped off and another instructor, Andrew, took his place. Andrew and I were going to head out and try out the asymmetrical spinnaker aboard Further. Sadly, however, when we pulled out the sail and all its attendant lines and equipment, it was clear that things were missing. So yet another item highlighted in the sales listing for the boat turned out to be a fallacy. I’ll have to get a rigger in to figure out what’s needed to get the asym to work. That’s a theme — the reality of buying a boat — that I’ll explore in a later post.

But no matter. For a couple of hours today I got to experience Further rockin’ and rolling at hull speed and 45 degrees of heel. The learning process continues…