sailing log: 2010-06-26

I was pretty frustrated that my 1st sail of the year wasn’t until late June, but I tend to be pretty good at making excuses (trying to wrap up things with the kids at school, need to finalize some repairs like the foam block reset, etc.) as to why it took me that long.  either way, we had scheduled a camping trip for Tawas Bay, Michigan (I just blogged about the camping trip), and one of my main goals on the trip was to get the Sunfish out on the water for a sail.  I said this about launching the Sunfish in the camping trip post:

since the water was so shallow so far out at the campground beach, I had to drive out of the campground, and noticed a marina right away with a public launch ($5 or so), but it was much more suited to much larger sailboats or powerboats.  I continued just a short way down the road and found a free public launch and used that.  the ramp was not really developed at all, and parking was quite limited.  it was really just a bit of sand where you could back your trailer up to (or in the case of one local I saw – just drive your big ol’ pickup truck and trailer right out in the water to drop off yer jet-ski).  …  the water was quite shallow still – I had to walk the boat out maybe a few hundred feet before I could drop the daggerboard and hop on to start sailing.

this was my first live (at the water) test of my Sunfish PVC dolly, so I was excited to see how well it would do.  (remember: it was on the drive up to Tawas Bay, though, that I almost lost the dolly wheels – and decided to update the dolly to have cotter pins to keep the wheels on.) the hard-packed sand “ramp” or access point worked really well with the PVC dolly, though – I was able to easily slide the Sunfish off the trailer onto the dolly, and then roll it down to the water and drop the Sunfish off there while I went back to get the rest of the sailing gear.

over the early spring, I had purchased a few new upgrades, and I was pretty excited to try them out for the 1st time.  I had sprung for the replica FRP daggerboard (the non-class-legal, but much cheaper version) and a new hiking strap – both from Intensity Sails, a complete new set of Sunfish rigging lines from APS (the recreational package, SF110), my new mainsheet block setup (I’m using just the Harken 2135 carbo ratchet block, with a Harken 150 cam cleat mounted on the cockpit lip if I need to cleat off – the block hooks to the eyestrap shown in the picture below), a new tiller extension with the universal joint, and some new sailing gloves.

as I was fiddling with getting my new mainsheet and halyard lines rigged correctly on the Sunfish, another gentleman was rigging up his older AMF Force 5 at the same launch, and he set off sailing just before I did.  I was (finally) ready to get going, so I pulled on my shorty wetsuit, and waded out a couple hundred feet with the Sunfish to get out of the shallow water.

as I don’t have a wind-meter, I can’t really say for sure what the wind speed was at the time – but it was fairly strong.  there was almost nothing along the shoreline for me to use as a gauge for the wind speed and direction – just 1 flag at the nearby marina, and it was flapping pretty steadily.  I set off on a beam reach to start out, sailed for a short while, and decided to make my 1st turn.

now, I can’t remember exactly what I did – but I ended up dumping the Sunfish over, and on my very 1st attempt at a tack for 2010!  not only did it dump over, but it turtled the full 180 degrees, mast pointing straight down.  luckily, the water felt great, and I was able to quickly right the boat.

with my new mainsheet setup, my goal was to use the ratchet block the entire time, trying to avoid having to use the cleat, and just constantly playing the mainsheet to adjust the sails (this was a new method for me, as my old setup was more prone to cleating off and leaving the mainsheet alone).  even with the sailing gloves, though, my hands were quickly getting sore – party due to the lack of practice, but I think I also could stand to get a slightly larger diameter mainsheet line for days like that with heavier winds.  with the new mainsheet setup, combined with the new universal joint on the tiller extension – I will admit I might have overloaded my brain.  I was having a hard time keeping the tiller straight – I think party due to just how floppy with universal joint makes that whole setup.  it was a whole new feel to steering, as before with the wooden tiller extension, it was very controlled.

I spent most of the time sailing on beam/broad/close reaches, or doing my best to sail close-hauled.  the wind was tricky to read (for me at least!), and I think I really need to put some wind indicators on my boat to better gauge the wind direction, for I found out that without more flags on the shoreline for reference, I was having trouble with some wind directions.  sailing on the close reach or close-hauled, I really had to hike out a LOT to get the boat to sail flat, and unfortunately, I had only tied a quick simple knot on my new hiking strap, and it came undone in the 1st few minutes, so I was back to hooking my toes under the cockpit lip. I ended up turtling the boat one more time that afternoon (I needed to cool off, right?!), and in general I was a tad frustrated with not reading the wind well, but when I got in the groove, the Sunfish was flying, and the hiking out was great fun.

the other sailor with the AMF Force 5 was pulling up to the boat launch right when I was, and we both put our boats away for the day and headed home.  he might have had more practice this summer – and might not have been quite as beat up as I felt, but I know for sure that my future sailing packing list will now always include some Icy-Hot.  my body was bruised and battered – my hands were quite sore from gripping the mainsheet, my arms were a bit sore from trying to use the new tiller extension and holding the mainsheet, my legs and knees were bruised from banging the edge of the cockpit while sliding around, and my body was just plain sore.  who said sailing was this much work?!  I was pretty whipped, but it had been a great time, and a great way to start my 2010 sailing season.

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