Sunday, September 28, 2008

Someone take the wheel

Kris and I arrived a little early to The Sailing Life dock for our Saturday morning sail, so we kicked around and looked at boats. I think anybody who's thinking about making the move to a boat should plan on spending multiple hours/days looking at boats. Kris and I found this story by Suzanne Giesemann very inspiring. We are getting a steady education looking over any and all possible boats. It's even a little tempting to fly out to Annapolis for the big boat show in two weeks, but I'm not sure we'll do it.

The Sailing Life had a newly arrived Beneteau 40' in the commissioning stage. Still had some grease pen notes on the hull and the mast had yet to be stepped, but it was in the water.

We looked around at a few of our favorites, the Hunter Deck Salon models being at the top of the list. There are two DS 45s (picture to left from Hunter Web site) and one DS 41 in the vicinity. The 45s have been sold and the 41 is still available. We are both very interested in these models as they have more room in the main salon for living, as well as for storage.

Our boat for today's sail was the Hunter 38. This 2008 model had been sold to someone locally, who used it for less than a year and decided to bump up to one of the DS 45s moored a couple of slips away. So, she's in excellent condition and the main salon still has that new boat smell.

Kevin briefed us quickly on our roles for mooring when we returned and we were underway. After we got out in the main channel, Kevin gave me the helm, pulled up and stowed the bumpers, and started prepping us to get under sail. I helmed us out to the main river channel and then handed it over to Kris so I could go help Kevin and learn a little about how to setup and trim this boat's sails. That was the last I had my hands on the helm.

Kris was reluctant to take the wheel, even though she was sitting right next to it, and I ended the discussion by just walking away and telling her it was all her's. The winds were very light and blowing upriver, but it was a joy to shut the engine down once we hauled out the mainsail. After that we unfurled the foresail and made an easy 1/2 knot across the Columbia on a port reach, occasional puffs giving us the slightest bit of heel. We jibed upriver a couple of times, fell off, turned her into the wind, and began tacking back down the river, the apparent wind picking up noticeably.

Kris was excitedly calling out the boat speed as the wind picked up and bubbles began to flow under the transom behind us, our speed inching up toward three knots in a close reach to starboard.

There was nothing near a regatta, but a handful of boats were playing around in the light air. Our early fall day warmed steadily, turning into a nice day as the afternoon approached.

I'm sure Kevin thought we were pretty goofy, although he was a good sport and answered all of our questions about the boat, sail trim, and the local yachting/racing scene. He even shared some of his own adventures from the local beer can and club races.

After a couple of tacks down river we came about and pointed her into the wind so we could start up the diesel, haul in the sails, and head back to the dock in time for a late lunch.

Guess who helmed us back in the channel?

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