First Day Sail of the Year

We escaped for an hour and a half, cast off the lines, and headed out to the bay. As usual this time of year, comfortable in the creek means chilly on the bay, so we wore jackets and sweaters. I enjoyed that clean-bottom hull speed while the engine pushed us almost to cruising speed while turning 2k rpm.

Once on the bay, we began setting sail, and discovered the processes and cautions are now a bit different with all the extra line in the cockpit. Without roller furling, I have another halyard to manage and a downhaul for when we strike sail. I also have new lines for all the running rigging and they are not optimal length yet (read they are still too long). Keeping lines out of the water and away from the prop is a big concern with a new set of lines/lengths to get used to.

With the wind 10 -12 knots, we set both sails. I was very pleased with the set of the new headsail, although I had to drop the main after five minutes of being over-powered.  I could have reefed the main, but wanted to see how the headsail did on its own. It performed so well. . .  our old sail just wouldn’t pull very well by itself, especially in windy conditions.  It was just too old, and didn’t set smoothly on the foil. The luff was very soft, and I’m sure the sail was just blown out. By contrast, the new sail alone pulled like a champ in these conditions, very close-winded, and perfectly shaped.

Sea of Cay's first 2015 sail
Sea of Cay on her first sail of 2015

Here she is, a few small stains, but generally very good condition.

I forgot to close the mast gate after sliding the slugs on, so when I dropped the sail I kept coming up with extra material. I was confused until Ruth pointed what had happened. These are the little kinks that we have to work out after unrigging/rerigging the boat. I still need to adjust all the running line lengths and work out the system for keeping the cockpit organized when managing sail.  It also took me 10 minutes to remember how to stow the headsail in its deck bag.

I kept getting little things wrong (it won’t close if it’s inside-out; the forward zipper has to go around the tack – how many times do I have to get the same things wrong with one stowing. . . ?). It will take a bit of time to learn how to manage all the changed lines efficiently. Also, the boat yard guys set up the rig really tight so I need to retune all the wires.

5.6 nautical miles today – about a half-hour of sailing and a half-hour of motoring in and out the creek. That was enough for the first time out with a new rig. A couple more days of organizing and sorting out little issues, and we’ll be ready for cruising.

A repost with permission from MiddleBaysailing.com

Rick Bailey

Rick Bailey sails the Chesapeake Bay with his wife, Ruth, on a Watkins 27 coastal cruiser. Rick is retired and writes the "middlebaysailing" blog (http://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com).

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