Today was the picture-perfect start to the sailing season. The sunshine and warmth and wind delivered an auspicious rebuttal to yesterday’s chilly, drizzly launch. And even more fortunate, I was joined by my father and sister for the sail south from Willsboro Bay Marina to the Essex Marina.
Lazy Day Log
The mostly north-northwest wind varied 6 to 12 knots with very minimal wave action. We motored north out of Willsboro Bay and raised our sales as we rounded the tip of Willsboro Point. Smooth sailing all the way, and approximately four hours of catch-up time. My father sailed most of the way, and my sister helped with the charts/navigation and even spent some time at the helm.
Docking still revs up my anxiety meter, and while I know this will change as my skills/confidence improve, I arrived at the Essex Marina with a twinge of dread. But light winds, forethought, and ample good fortune served me well. The boat responded perfectly, and my crew stacked the odds in my favor. A huge relief!
Projects on the Horizon
Errant feels ready for a summer of sailing. I’m excited as I look forward.
I still need to rig one or two reefing points. I’ll try to take care of that over the course of the week plus a handful of other projects that I still need to tackle including ordering and installing new halyards, ordering and installing new name, sealing a couple of slow topside leaks. But all in all, Errant feels ready for a summer of sailing. I’m excited as I look forward.
Water Level Worries
Unfortunately recent rains have elevated the Lake Champlain water level by 2+ feet, and the waves are now breaking over the marina’s docks and fingers. I had to set up a temporary spring stretched across the channel just to keep Errant off the dock. Fingers crossed that the rains will diminish in the lake level will begin to fall.
Thursday’s sail north from Essex Marina to Willsboro Bay Marina with Jim and Mark was a great way to wrap up my first (extremely abbreviated) season sailing Da Capo/Errant. Smooth sailing with moderate to light winds and calm seas; bluebird skies and cool-to-warm temperatures; and the companionship of two close friends who are both intricately woven into my boating/sailing narrative.
Sail to Power to Sail
As I’ve mentioned previously, I grew up sailing. My father taught my brother, sister, and me to sail — first a Paceship 17 (P17), then an Alcort Sailfish, and later a Tiga sailboard — when I was a youngster. Probably between 8 and 14 years old I was strictly a sailor.
I envied neighbors who had powerboats, mostly because it opened the possibility of waterskiing which I had learned to do. But my parents were keen on the environment, not motorboats. So when I got my first job as a dock boy at the Westport Marina (owned and operated by Jim and his family), I took advantage of every opportunity that I could to operate powerboats. Jim was my boss, but he was a benevolent boss and soon a friend. He opened up the wide world of powerboat opportunities, allowing me to take out the staff at the end of the work day for an end-of-shift ski. I jumped at every opportunity to join him (or his brother Larry) on rescues, zooming through often messy conditions in a Shamrock workboat that looked like a miniature tugboat. I shuttled boaters out to moorings, moved boats between slips, delivered boats to clients with waterfront docks elsewhere on Lake Champlain, and weaseled my way into just about any boating experience I could finagle.
In short, during my teens and early twenties I barely sailed at all!
But I found my way back to sailing in my mid twenties. I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico (check out our current adobe oasis!) and windsurfing on the desert southwest’s tiny manmade lakes offered the perfect antidote to lake-longing. My girlfriend and I acquired a hodgepodge of secondhand gear and taught ourselves to chase high dessert storms.
In my early thirties my brother and I balanced summer ski boats with Hobie Cat 16 sailing. To this day I consider sailboarding and small, fast catamaran sailing to be just about the most exhilarating watersport out there!
But I’m missing a chapter in my boating narrative. In my twenties and thirties I began to dream of sailing and cruising in larger monohulls. Mostly it was daydreaming. Reading and rereading worn Nautical Quarterly volumes, flipping through sailing magazines, and wandering marinas. Some day…
As in my early power boating days I pursued any and every opportunity to get aboard a sailboat. Shortly after moving back to the United States after living in France for almost four years I began collaborating with Jim and Mark on an e-commerce project called ShipStore.com. Mark was living on a sailboat in Benecia, California and racing an asymmetrical dinghy on weekends. Cool!
I remember like it was yesterday the sun soaked day that Mark and I spent with our brides sailing, eating, brainstorming, daydreaming on his sailboat Wandering Rose. Ever since he’s encouraged my desire to sail and cruise (and possibly some day, even live aboard). And Mark was instrumental in helping me evaluate Da Capo/Errant.
So it seemed apropos that I should conclude my skinny season number one with both Jim and Mark. One opened up the world of power boating (effectively wooing me away from sailboats) and the other guided me back to my sailing roots. Narrative perfection!
Following a charmed afternoon of sailing, we dropped the sails and headed into Willsboro Bay. The good folks at Willsboro Bay Marina invited me to spend the night in the slip of Da Capo/Errant’s previous owner, ensuring that I would be ready bright and early to bring the boat to the service dock / travel lift for hauling.
We cracked open the rum and grilled a tasty supper on the boat. Lots of laughter and libations later, Jim headed home and Mark and I turned in for my first night of sleep on the new boat and the last night of boating for the season.
Good Satellite Radio Karma
Sometimes life rhymes. Or so it seems. And when it does, it’s especially fine to accompany it with an appropriate soundtrack.
As I drove to the marina at the outset of this journey look what came up in the playlist…