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…