Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bigwig - Sailing Lingo Answered

So back about 300 or so years ago the European convention of indicating their position or importance in society by wearing wigs was widely accepted. The bigger the wig - the more important you were. A captain at sea would wear a larger wig than his officers. So he was the Bigwig on board.

Mike is nearly bald, so Brenda must be the Bigwig aboard Wrinkles. I guess that is why we refer to her as the Admiral.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

OK Rain - You Win, Part 2

So I messed up and talked bad about the weather man. Boy did he get the last laugh. After Friday evening's thunderstorms we awoke to, you guessed it, more rain. We stayed put for a couple of hours until it finally quit and ventured out of our cove into some stiff winds and strong gusts. We reefed Wrinkles' main sail down one set and furled in about 1/3 of the jib. This worked for about an hour until the gusts started overpowering us again and we rolled the furler in to less than 50%. We enjoyed the rambunctious sailing for a while and then decided we were ready for a rest break.
We sailed over to a protected shore to enjoy lunch, naps and a little fishing. Feeling rested and seeing the wind and waves had moderated we went out again for a little easy sailing, ending at the Memorial Union. By now the forecast called for calmer winds coming out of the south/southwest with a possible thunder shower later in the evening. We rowed Squint The Famous Racing Dinghy to shore for a nice outdoor lunch on State Street. Beautiful weather and cold beer. Now this is sailing.
We wandered down to the Union to check on Wrinkles and listen to the live jazz bands on the shore. It seemed like the weekend had really turned around and become more what we all look for in sailing. We rowed out to Wrinkles as the sun was about to set over a lake that was smooth as glass. We had anchored quite close to shore since it was so calm out and a protected shore from the forecasted winds. Once aboard we mixed sundowners and were just about to settle down to enjoy the music and drinks when a cool fresh breeze came from due west. Hmmmmm? That isn't in the forecast.

We looked off to the west and saw a very ugly black wall just appearing over the shore line of Picnic Point about 1 1/4 miles away. Decision time for this crew. The anchor was well set, but it was set facing the previous south winds and any strong winds from the west were going to dislodge it. We started the motor thinking we could assist the anchor or motor off if it became necessary.

The wall of winds, waves and rain that hit us changed our minds instantly. This sheer front was serious and we needed to get away from shore now. B pulled the anchor up as I motored into the now unbelievably ugly lake. The rain instantly soaked both of us and forced us to shield our eyes to see. The moored boats just 100' away became almost invisible. The 8 HP Mariner gave everything she had as we rolled up the front of each wave and then slammed down on the backside. Wow. This lake turned into a disaster in a big hurry. Our plan was to motor directly into the front and head for the shelter of the east shoreline about a mile away. One hand on the tiller and one hand on the outboard while trying to keep the bow into the wind. The poor motor was cavitating badly as we crested each wave and slammed down the backside.

That was one wild ride. B took it in stride and chatted with me while occasionally peeking through the rain to keep us heading west. I couldn't make out the compass even though I was under a Bimini and only 4' away. We made it slowly, very slowly, to the shore and gratefully dropped the anchor in 5' of calmer water. We waited there until the worst of the cell had passed and then motored around the point to a cove that is usually protected from everything but a north wind.
We dropped the anchor again and went inside to dry off. Well the darn back side of this cell decided to turn loose on us again and turned even this safe spot uncomfortable. B gamely put on her wet clothes to pull the anchor in the downpour again. We motored to the other side of the cove which is better sheltered from the west winds. Even though the forecast still said the issues were all coming from the south or southwest.
So this fourth anchoring in a short period of time gave us a nice protected spot to get some well deserved sleep. When we awoke this morning the sun was shining on a white capped lake. We put two reefs in the main and maybe 1/3 of the jib unfurled for a nice controlled sail while still cruising along at hull speed.
Another interesting weekend aboard Wrinkles. We make our mistakes, make our corrections, learn some more and have a ball during the process.
Mike and Brenda

OK Rain - You Win, Part 1

This spring and summer in Wisconsin has just made it miserable to get in any sailing time. B and I have sailed wearing multiple coats to ward off the cold and rain gear to keep somewhat dry. We're not fair weather sailors, but this weather pattern is getting on our nerves.

The forecast for this weekend was hot (90 degrees F.) with some rain and at least one to two thunder showers per day. Well in spite of another lousy forecast we are once again on the lake. We rigged Wrinkles in hot muggy air then motored (not a hint of the forecasted 10 -12 mph winds) to an anchoring spot as the rain began to patter on the water. As soon as the anchor was down and the companionway was closed it began raining hard once again.

We slept at anchor to the sounds and lights of 3 or 4 separate thunderstorms that passed through our area. Non-stop rain for 12 hours. Coffee and oatmeal is cooking on our little butane as we read and play on the iPad. It is a nice way to pass the time, but we'd really like to have one weekend this year where we can unfurl the sails, put on some sunscreen and sail in comfort.


Come on weatherman, give us a chance to play.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect...Good Thing

The weatherman said it would be sunny on Saturday, but not Sunday, so we put Wrinkles in the water Friday for a one-night excursion. Friends of ours, power boaters, said they were heading to the lake Friday night and wanted to meet up with us for supper. There was absolutely no wind so we began motoring over to the Union to drop anchor. We got a text from the power boat wondering how long it would take us to motor across the lake. We kiddingly texted back that we would meet them for Sunday brunch.

Our friends met us there and Mike rowed us in to the Union and we walked to State Street Brats. We sat outside talking and people watching. After dinner, Mike rowed us back to Wrinkles where we bobbed while enjoying the beautiful evening chatting and listening to the music from the frat house and the Union. Our little homemade dinghy, Squint, was built with us two in mind. It definitely isn't the right dinghy for Mike to row another large male in. Squint did the job though, so all was well. If Brenda has a late growth spurt and gets to be over 6 feet tall we will need to reconsider our choice.

On Saturday we awoke to calm water, cloudy skies, and cool temperatures. It didn't look like much sailing for us. We need to find another weather station! We leisurely ate breakfast and cleaned up the boat. By then there were a few ripples on the water, so we decided to give it a try. We raised the sails and.....inched our way away from our anchorage. We really appreciate our new sails. We wouldn't have moved at all with our old sheets. The sun started to peek out and the breeze picked up to a whomping 2 or 3 knots. Oh, well.....we didn't have anyplace else to be. We took turns at the tiller while the other "kept watch" (napped).

Finally, at about 1:00 the winds picked up and we got to play a little. We experimented with the loose foot and fine-tuned our sail trimming. No wrinkles in our sails today. Then Mike said it was time to practice our man overboard skills. The wind was perfect for a beam reach, consistent, and barely causing us to heel. We pulled out the boat hook (note to selves....we need to find a place for this on deck), grabbed a fender and reviewed what we needed to do. Our first attempt brought us a little off target, but we quickly saw what our turning radius needed to be and made adjustments for the next try.

We took turns at the helm with the other crewing and then we each tried a couple solo rescues. The exercise really got the heart pumping, not from the exertion, but from the magnitude of the "what if's" . Afterwards we congratulated ourselves on a job well done. All of our rescue attempts had been successful. As we settled in for some more relaxed sailing, we noticed our bumper had gotten away from us. "Man overboard" we laughed, and executed a perfect MOB rescue.

Practice makes perfect.