Best of Times, Worst of Times

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We woke up to a beautiful day for sailing.

Sarnia Marina in the morning with the Bluewater Bridge in the background.

Sarnia Marina in the morning with the Bluewater Bridge in the background.

At 7:25 a.m. we left the Lake Huron Marina, heading to Bayfield Marina about 48 nautical miles away, and put both sails up right away. The winds were about 7 knots and on a broad reach. We tooted along comfortably at about 5.5 knots. A couple hours later the winds picked up to about 11 knots and Rick reefed in the main. It was wavy and I pretty well had to stay put in the companionway but the motion was tolerable. Besides, we were traveling in a way that all sailors hope to travel – at a good clip (5.5 knots to 6.2 knots) with favourable winds. We mentioned that this was going to be one of our most memorable sails. It looked like we were going to be able to sail without the motor all the way to our destination, about 9 hours away.

Full sails.  Heading out to Bayfield in the early morning.

Full sails. Heading out to Bayfield in the early morning.

At about 1:30 we could see a storm was approaching and the winds started to pick up. I wanted to take some photos of the beautiful clouds but I was starting to feel seasick and it was way too bumpy to go into the cabin to get my camera. Rick brought in some of the jib and we continued to enjoy a balanced sail but the waters got even more choppy. It looked like the storm was going to move ahead of us. Guess what? At about 2:00 we caught the tail end of the storm and all hell broke loose! The winds whipped up to the high 20’s and we knew that we had to get the main down right away. Rick pulled in the jib as far as he could then let down the main. Everything was flapping around like crazy. He wanted to tie down the main but I was really afraid to take over the steering and let him go up on the deck. We had to do something about the main. I took over the steering, headed the boat into the wind, which took everything I had with constant maneuvering, and Rick, tethered to the boat, tied down the main with a couple of ties the best he could. At one point while I was steering the wind speed indicator read 33 knots. That’s fast!

This took only about 5 minutes but it seemed like an eternity to me. Rick took over the steering and we had to head in a direction away from Bayfield so that we could take the waves head on. Our boat was bumping ass over teakettle (pitch poling is the technical term) and the prop even lifted out of the water a couple of times. Rick did an amazing job of controlling the boat and although we were very uncomfortable I felt safe with him at the helm. After about 20 minutes of this, the wind settled to about 17 to 24 knots and we were able to turn and head back toward our destination. We knew that we had about 2 hours more of traveling. There were lots of big, turbulent waves and I was feeling really seasick.

I was pretty quiet for the rest of the trip. When we were about 2 nm away from Bayfield I decided to head into the cabin to get our Ports book for information about docking at the Bayfield Municipal Marina. I quickly grabbed the book and my glasses and just as I was leaving the companionway I was sick all over the cockpit. Poor Rick! This was the topper for us. I made a pretty good mess of the boat before I could make it to the side. I hung on the the lifelines and let her rip! We said this was going to be a memorable trip and, boy, were we right!

I called in to the marina to get help docking and we limped our way into port. The dock attendant said we were the only boat to have arrived today. The wind and waves were blowing down the river and some of the other boaters were interested in how we fared out there. Anyway, by 5 p.m. we were settled in and it is surprising how quickly we recuperated from our adventures at sea.

Fishing boat across from our slip at the Bayfield Marina.

Fishing boat across from our slip at the Bayfield Marina.

After dinner at the boat we went for a walk down Main Street. There are a lot of artsy shops that we are planning to explore on our rest day in Bayfield tomorrow.
Overall, these are the BEST of times…just with a little glitch today.

The pathway that leads to Bayfield's Main Street from our marina.

The pathway that leads to Bayfield’s Main Street from our marina.

This patch of green caught my eye.

This patch of green caught my eye.

Safe and sound, settled into the Bayfield Municipal Marina.

Safe and sound, settled into the Bayfield Municipal Marina.

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