Thursday, September 26, 2013

Leaving Baltimore

[Kyle]We left Baltimore at first light the day after I returned from work. We put the mainsail up as soon as we cleared the marina. We turned downwind and Baltimore began to recede into the distance. We passed under the Francis Scott Key Bridge and rounded the corner at Bodkin creek, where we got our first sight of the Bay Bridge near Annapolis.

The turn caused the mainsail to blanket our jib, so we rolled it up. The wind was slowly decreasing and we were getting slower and slower on mainsail alone. After a while, Maryanne suggested we hoist the spinnaker. Our speed was back immediately! We passed every other sailboat in sight after that. Having a spinnaker seems like such an unfair advantage, like having a rocket engine on a car. Non-spinnaker boats have no chance.

As the wind died down, it shifted around just enough for the spinnaker to be in the lee of the mainsail about half of the time. When it was, it collapsed and tried to either plunge into the bay or wrap around the furled jib. When this happened it always seemed to be at the most inopportune time, when the extra spinnaker speed was needed to pass in front of another boat to avoid a conflict.

We put up with it for a while {Maryanne: translated, this means Kyle swore a lot!}, and then finally gave up and pulled the mainsail down. Even though the total area of sail we had flying had decreased, the spinnaker now stayed reliably filled, so our average speed stayed up with a lot less frustration.

As we approached our anchorage, the wind began to pick up again. We were still technically within the wind range for the spinnaker, but it was starting to get a little bit scary at times. We decided to play it safe and take it down so we could proceed the rest of the way under main and jib. We started to get into trouble when neither of us could pull the sock down over the filled spinnaker. When we tried to let out one sheet or the other, to take the wind out of the sail and let it flog, all it would do was stay filled and pull directly sideways. That was bad. It is just that kind of behavior that caused my first sailing instructor to call the spinnaker the “Sail of Death”. We’re still learning how to deal with this sail aboard Begonia. Eventually, we figured out that we could get the sail to flog by letting out the sheet and turning into the wind. This allowed us to get the sock down and silence the machine gun sound of the flogging sail.

The last few miles were a peaceful sail into Selby Bay, just south of Annapolis. We picked Selby Bay because it was the last and least out of the way stop on the way before the next long leg to Solomons Island. Selby Bay is not too interesting, but it’s on the way and it’s a wide-open expanse that allows the wind generator to catch the wind and keep the batteries topped up.


Mommy Dearest said...

Can you go back to Spinnaker school? That little experience sounds a bit nerve-wracking.

SV-Footprint said...

Actually, I DID go to Spinnaker School in 2000. I had one on our first boat and wanted to know how to use it. Cap'n Dave, my instructor, said, "It's easy, put it in a box labeled 'Do Not Open Until 2005. in 2005, get it out, cross off the 2005 and write 2010 over it, then put it back where you buried it the first time. It's the Sail of Death!"