Tag Archives: Burlington Boathouse

Last Waltz 2016: Big Wind and Big Seas

The best-laid plans… According to our scheme, we’d follow our leisurely two-night stay in Burlington with an early morning rise on Saturday in order to sail west to Willsboro Bay Marina before the wind and waves had a chance to build.

By 5:00am I was up and showering, fretting over the increasingly rough water and the ever-mounting wind. Meteorologists failed. Again.

Looks calm enough in the photo, right? Well, it wasn’t. With stern into the wind and waves, Errant was see-sawing bow, stern, bow, stern. The docks were moaning and groaning. And I nearly wore out my weather apps trying to get a handle on what to expect.

For context, I take you back a couple of days:

So, one side of me is aching to wrap up the season with a final day of big wind and big seas. But I know for certain that this is not the best way to nurture my bride’s extremely restrained interest in spending more time sailing Errant. (Source: Last Waltz 2016: Preparations | Sailing Errant)

Plan vs. Reality

By 8:00am we’d set sail in gusty winds fluctuating between hight teens and low twenties. Directly out of the south, so looong fetch. Huge rolling seas.

My bride was not pleased.

But with worsening weather and a Monday haul-out date (driven by travel booked shortly thereafter), we knew what we needed to do. Double reefed main and genoa, nose into the surf, and off we went. We soon discovered that we’d be unable to sail directly west to Willsboro Point. This put us broadside to the building waves, and we were taking tons of water over the deck and into the cockpit. Not fun with many miles ahead.

So he headed further north, enduring a rodeo ride between Burlington and Port Kent, New York. Wind quickly starting pushing into the low 30s. Hull speed never dropped below 7.5 knots. Waves were as large as I ever experienced on Lake Champlain. I was wavering between concern for my bride who turned out to be an incredible trooper, helping solve crises as they arose, and keeping us focused on the goal of our crossing.

At one point port side bimini blew free, the stainless steel tubing having pulled the screws free from the deck. No time to round-up, we kept barreling through the waves while lashing the support to the stanchions, a solution that held despite the odds.

When we finally reached the New York shore we began tacking our way south toward Willsboro Point. I’d hoped for a wave and wind shadow behind Schuyler Island. Moderate reduction in wave action, but the winds continued to howl. Endless tacking, but gaining little ground. A dozen tacks. Two dozen. A fouled jib sheet. Bride at the help while I fought my way up to free the sheet. More tacks.

We were drenched, but finally we reached the mouth of Willsboro Bay. I’d resisted shifting over to engine power since Errant handles so much better (stronger, steadier, and more predictable) under sail power, but by the time we entered the bay we decided to switch over to diesel. It took the ages to fight south despite having the throttle wide open. We continue to take waves over the bow, continued to get slammed with water. But slowly we inched toward Willsboro Bay Marina where our slip awaited us.

No sooner had we tied up than the sun came out and the wind began to fall. We changed into dry cloths, and enjoyed the lunch we hadn’t been able to eat during our 5+ hour adventure. It tasted sublime!

What an end to the season. I’m incredibly proud of my bride for rising to the occasion. I’d marry her all over again! And I’m proud of Errant. What a wonderful ship. I’m never once questioned my good fortune in finding and purchasing this reliable vessel, and it’s been three years.

Last Waltz 2016: Burlington, Vermont

Welcome to the second installment of our Last Waltz 2016. We’re off to a splendid start (despite setting sail four hours late…), crossing Lake Champlain from Essex, New York to Burlington, Vermont.

Sailing Errant to Burlington, Vermont (Source: Geo Davis)
Sailing Errant to Burlington, Vermont (Source: Geo Davis)

Lovely, lovely conditions. Winds in the low to mid teens, cool but sunny weather, a tasty lunch, and hours alone with my bride for the first time in far too long.

My bride genuinely enjoyed the passage, and we both agreed that it was the most relaxing days we’ve enjoyed together in weeks. Months?

We settled into an outer slip on the southern end of Burlington Boathouse’s marina—lots of air and unobstructed view—and then met up with friends for drinks at Juniper followed by dinner at Bleu. The perfect start to a mini-vacation!

We continued to follow the weather, and by Friday morning we had decided that heading north to Valcour would set us up for a risky sail south on Saturday. Thunderstorm threats had been pushed back, but major wind (out of the south) promised a wetter, colder, and generally less optimal sail than I wanted for my bride. (Remember, the goal was to make her feel more comfortable sailing, not less comfortably cruising!)

Instead we opted to spend the day and a second night in Burlington. Fortunately the friends with whom we’d planned to rendezvous at Valcour agreed to meet us in Burlington for cocktails on the boat and dinner at Splash. Perfect. But first a lazy day playing “tourist” in a town where we’re normally hustling to cross items off our punch lists. I’ll chronicle the rest of our Burlington stay in Twitter posts…

And no sooner did the sun set but we were graced with a spectacular  Harvest Moon. Truly spectacular.

Let’s wrap up with a snapshot of my bride with our guests backlit with sunsetting into the Adirondacks. Good night, Burlington.

Bride with Team Gieblielmo at Splash
Bride with Team Gieblielmo at Splash