Tuesday Morning

Not many big adventures to report, but enough small happenings that I figure I should get caught up anyway.

I’m well-rested, even though I woke at 3am last night to the sounds of an unexpected rain shower just getting underway.  To people that live in houses or apartments or condos this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but for me it meant scrambling out of bed to bring in the two bagged sails still on my bow, and to cover the generator with a tarp.  The sail bags aren’t waterproof, and if the sails get wet and don’t get unpacked and hung to dry out they can easily mildew, which is both terrible for the strength of the sailcloth and terribly ugly.  The generator is literally a single point of failure in my work life at this time, as my electrical system on the boat isn’t charging the batteries well and the generator’s electricity is the only way I can do my day job for more than an hour at a time.

a brass hank - ten or twenty of these attach each sail to a steel cable, or 'forestay', at the bow of the boat.
a brass hank - ten or twenty of these attach each sail to a steel cable, or 'forestay', at the bow of the boat.

Now all that being said, bringing in the sail bags and the generator took about ten to fifteen minutes of work overall – although the sails were in their respective bags, they were still “hanked on” to the forestays with brass hanks, and the sheets still rigged back through the blocks and winches.  This is so that I could manage the boat single-handedly; with the sails bagged but hanked on and rigged, preparing to raise the sails would be as simple as just untying the tops of the bags, and then winching up the halyards could pull the sails right out of their bags and up the forestay.  Still, it was a full ten or so minutes to get the sails unrigged and put away – I probably could/should have spent the extra two minutes in the cabin finding and putting on some pants, instead of struggling with corroded brass hanks and knotted rigging in my underwear at 3am in the rain.  At least it was warm-ish out, and even though False Creek is very well lit at night, I don’t think anyone walked by.  I was certainly happy to get back to my warm bed.

I’ve been “home” – or back in Vancouver anyway – for a few days now.  I told myself that the weekend would be a few days of rest, but that sure didn’t happen.  Friday night I found myself out at the Lotus Sound Lounge enjoying a live-pa set from Ragdoll, and then Saturday back out to the same club to hear live-pa sets from Inkwell and the inimitable LongWalkShortDock.  It gives me a great deal of pride to see live-pa really starting to pick up in this city – I’d like to think I had a hand in making the format more known and accepted, but listening to the quality of the music at those two clubnights, I’m thinking it’s not so much about the fact that it’s live-pa, but rather that the guys are actually just giving DJs a solid run for their money.

my "charging station", charging my camera, celphone, razor and Nintendo DS
my ghetto charging station on my charting table, charging my camera battery, cellphone, razor and Nintendo DS

In other news, my battery charger for my digital camera finally came in the mail!  Just in time for Burning Man too, so hopefully this year I’ll actually remember to pull my camera out of the bag more than twice.  I’ve had a few conversations lately with folks who share the same affliction, though each time they ended more as affirmations than commiserations; we’ve agreed that it is better to live an experience fully and completely in the moment, and that stepping back to take photos and document just detracts from the experience.  Still, it’s awfully nice to be able to go back through a series of photos years later and remember an amazing time – maybe that’s why I like hanging around with photographers so much.  At least now I can photograph the stupid little stuff that happens and make this blog a little more colourful.

Prior to getting “home”, I had a lovely day of sailing on Friday – I woke at 7am and was on my way by 8am, and motored two hours north to Porlier Pass after spending the night in Montague Harbour.  For future reference, Montague Harbour is lovely but there is no cell service, which meant no internet access!  Strange, especially given that it was probably the most populated anchorage that I’d been to yet, with probably close to a hundred boats at anchor.  I arrived at Porlier Pass at about 10:15am, giving me a half-hour to idle around waiting for the slack tide at 10:38am, but then I was through and out on the Georgia Straight by 11am.  Even at slack tide, Porlier Pass was a series of eddies, whirlpools and standing waves, and Tie Fighter was spun sideways more than once by the competing tidal currents.

The wind on the Straight was lovely, pushing about 25kn which is absolutely perfect for fast, exciting cruising.  I found myself whipping along at a solid 8kn for about an hour straight, harnessed in and standing at the absolute back of the starboard wing, leaning back in my harness and hanging on to a backstay with one hand.  I don’t think the starboard hull touched the water for an hour; beautiful, amazing sailing – that sort of perfect moment is what sailing is really all about, and I couldn’t stop grinning.  Then the wind started to pick up a bit, and then a bit more… and suddenly I found myself with far too much sail up.

To ‘reef’ a sail is to lash it partially down, to lower the amount of sail you are presenting to the wind, so that you can continue sailing despite high winds.  There’s a saying amongst sailors; something like “if you’re wondering whether or not it’s time to reef, it’s time to reef”, and I took that to heart, dropping my yankee and lashing it to the deck with bungee cords.  Apparently I was just in time – the boat fell to 6kn with the reduced sail, and then the wind immediately jumped again and I went right back up to 8kn under just the main and the staysail!  That was a bit scary, but so long as I took the helm manually (ie, without Steve the Autopilot to help), I could keep Tie Fighter carefully balanced with the rig close hauled, just on the edge of being overpowered, whipping across the Straight.

awesome.  click for larger...
awesome. click for larger...

I made it across the Straight in about three hours, much faster than I went across the first time – on the way over the trip across took almost six hours, though admittedly a lot of the first trip was idling along enjoying the perfect summer sunshine, suntanning and reading a book.  The last hour or so the wind died down a lot this time, but when I hit English Bay the wind flipped in direction and came right back up to 35kn again!  I spent the next three hours tacking my way home between the oil tankers anchored in the Bay; back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.  Finally I found myself at Kitsilano Point, where I took down the sails, bagged everything up, and motored back into False Creek to anchor.

Oh, and lastly, I got a fantastic SMS message from the awesome (and ridiculously cute) Shauna on Thursday night; she was apparently inspired by my Facebook status update and doodled this pic, which she photographed and sent to my phone.  I love random stuff like this, it totally made my day.  Thanks Shauna!

And now it’s back to work, getting caught up on a number of dayjob projects that need to be complete before I leave for Burning Man on Friday morning…