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Finally, a new body of water! I do enjoy Roosevelt lake, with its surrounding mountains and relative isolation, but just about 30 miles NNW of Phoenix, someone had dammed the Agua Fria river, and a decent-sized lake was born. Compared to the drive to Roosevelt, with its two lane highway and rural feel, this trailering adventure is 95% interstate freeway, all amenities included.

As usual, time was wasted getting out on the road, and I still forgot my sandals, ipod and pillow. Why hurry? The lake will be there, no? Well, maybe a little too much time was taken. I’d previously warned a couple of skydiving friends in Eloy that I would stop by to show off the boat, and now it was getting on towards 11:30. The Pleasant Harbor marina will close at 5:00, and I still need time to rig the boat and claim a slip. I called my friends and told them I was sorry. Next time.

Luckily, I had help in stepping the mast and launching from a guy named Bob, who had commented on this blog, saying that he lives in Mesa and owns an earlier version of the same boat as I. His Venture wasn’t quite ready for the water, so I had offered to take him out sailing on my little boat. That morning, he had called to ask if I was going sailing, and if so, might he come along? “Well, sure. Where can I pick you up?” After assuring him that I could find his house, I proceeded to drive about 15 miles past his place of residence, necessitating a short double-back and then negotiating a few miles of the Superstition freeway.
Yeah, sure, I can find your place! Next time, do your mapwork in advance, huh, Tom?

We caravanned on out towards Lake Pleasant with him leading the way, in what seemed to me like fairly heavy traffic, but what do I know about Phoenix traffic? Being from Tucson, not much. I managed to keep him in sight until we arrived at our destination, sometime around 3:15. Perfect. We’ve got about an hour and a half to rig the boat and get over to the marina so I could confirm that my card-key would work. Membership (or “friendship”, in my case) has its privileges, such as bathrooms, showers and microwave ovens!
It was really nice to have someone to help launch the vessel, and Bob had some good ideas to hasten the rigging of the boat, which I should put into service next time around. We arrived at the marina before the end of the business day, expecting to find a slip for the night, but my darned Roosevelt marina card-key was inoperative. As it turns out, the Pensus Group, owners of both Roosevelt and Lake Pleasant marinas, use a different system of computer management for each place. Not only that, but the head honcho, Jennifer, was off that Monday, and she’s the only one who can create the coveted card-key. “She’ll be back on Wednesday”, says Omar, the acting authority. Nice… “Okay, is there a slip in an unsecured area where I can tie up for the night?” “Sure, follow me.” “Bathroom?” “No problem”, says Omar. Thank you! Things usually work themselves out. The sun was setting, but I am sorry, Bob, as we didn’t get out on the lake proper that day. “Tomorrow?”, he asks? Definitely. So I motored him back to the launch ramp where his truck was parked, and then hustled back to my slip in the waning twilight. (It could have been gloaming). I gotta replace that bow light, as the starboard lens is getting more white than green.

Day 2-
There’s not much breeze evident when I pick up Bob at the ramp, but we put out on the lake with high hopes. The water is way down, just like Roosevelt, but the PTB had done a good job of marking shoals, rocks and other such hazards. We point into the suspected wind, raise sails and cut the motor. Hey, we’re sailin’!
In deference to my guest, I let him take the helm, while I played sail trimmer. Conditions were strangely consistent, as a 5 to 8 knot breeze just maintained it’s heading. Not at all like the vagaries that seem to plague me at Roosevelt, so my job was rather boring. But, as I always say, boredom is highly underrated. Bob complimented the boat’s pointing abilities, and I had to agree with that assessment. She did seem to be making darn close to 90 degree tacks. It could be the new helmsman…

The breeze had freshened somewhat during the early afternoon, and I still wanted to fly my spinnaker, so we headed upwind for a decently long run. Instead of drifting, it was pretty danged expeditious to have an experienced pilot at the helm while I hauled up the spinnaker sock and routed all the control lines to their various terminations. Sock uphaul and downhaul, tackline, sheets and parrel beads. I asked the skipper whether we should keep the mains’l up while the spinnaker was flown, and he replied “Why not?” “Okay.” This is something new for me, as the only other time I’ve had both main and spin working together was at Roosevelt, in extremely docile conditions. Well, docile’s a relative term, as those winds were practically nonexistant at the time. Today’s winds are still building…
Bob put the boat on a starboard reach, I gave the uphaul a yank, and out she came.

After a quick starboard run, I blurt “Let’s try gybing the boat, eh?” “Sure. Prepare to gybe”. Not my greatest effort, but it did come to pass. Letting the spin fly out beyond the furled fores’l requires a bit of timing on the sheets, and a slow and steady bringing about of the wind over the stern. “Let’s try another!” Somewhat better, that time. “Again!” I’m feeling like a kid at Christmastime, with an indulgent Uncle Bob.
Then there was that one situation where the mains’l blanketed the spinnaker from the wind, and the spin started getting rather squirrely. Tried to wrap up around the fores’l it did, and almost succeeded in doing so, but I coaxed and coddled the sheets into submission.
Well, that’s not exactly true. Actually, I was the one who submitted. That spinnaker was looking down on me with disdain.

Sock downhaul!!! I don’t mind, call me chicken. I remembered the last time I had the spinnaker out, and ended up grounding on a lee shore after becoming too engrossed in the experience! Visions of dismastings weren’t fostering any bravado, either. I stashed the sock away, leaving the sheets to dry out on the foredeck.
Beer? Yes, please, don’t mind if I do.
It’s time to head back upwind to allow my guest time to get home at a decent hour. Bob, I enjoyed meeting you. You’re welcome aboard anytime!

Day 3-

Upon awakening, I notice there’s an even better wind than yesterday’s, and it’s only 7:30! I’ve still got to deal with the marina management regarding the use of all the facilities, and retrieval and tear-down for the drive home, but I’ve got a little bit of time. Eat something, anything, and go!

She’s heeling with more gusto this morning, and I’m kind of afraid to let her just go for it. I experiment with sail trim a bit, trying to get her into a neutral rudder feel. It’s like taking your foot off the brakes when you’re not fighting the rudder. But all too soon, I notice the time.
Jennifer’s in charge of things at the marina today, and I’m anxious to find out a few things. She was very accommodating, giving me the option of calling ahead before my next visit to arrange for a card-key, and even making a fresh pot of coffee, seemingly just for me! I’ll never forget which days she has off. I spent the rest of the morning just loitering, drinking coffee and talking to new people at the docks. Too much coffee makes me too talkative. Sorry, folks.
It’s now time to get the Tucson two-step happening, so it’s off to the ramp to wait, drifting near some fishermen for about fifteen minutes while some guy messed with his engine at the dock. Vrooom, a lot of blue smoke, and he’s finally away. It was then I learned that the fishermen were awaiting his departure also. Patience is taught. The fishermen are pretty quick to get loaded up and out, but now more fishing and pleasure craft are appearing at the ramp to launch. I perform my last docking manoeuvre of the trip to tie off on the opposite side of the dock from the incoming traffic, and help the groups of newcomers with their docklines. One guy, name of Floyd, pulls his fishing boat around behind mine on the far side to take his truck back up to the parking lot.
Now I know I’m going to be taking up a bit of space and time by the time I get my truck down to the ramp, and the time it takes to horse the boat around the dock and onto the trailer. But boaters are just such a helpful lot, you know? Floyd volunteers a timely hand! I set him up with a long line from stem to stern to guide the boat around the dock, while I go get my truck.
I didn’t have to get near as wet during retrieval this time. Thank you, sir! Winch her up onto the trailer, all the way to the bow chock, and pull away smiling. It’s a fairly steep ramp, so on the way up, the boat slides back on the bunks a little. Maybe a little too much for comfort. At the parking lot above the ramp, I try winching her tighter onto the trailer, but the darned cable is slipping on the winch drum! Upon inspection, the cable’s end has pulled it’s way out of whatever you call that little hole in the side of the drum! “I am the luckiest guy I know”, I say to myself. Imagine if the cable had slipped off the drum during the pull up the ramp! I could’a been lookin’ back through my rear view mirror at a sad sight indeed!
Unreel the winch’s 20-plus feet of cable, break out the nippers to trim the frayed cable end so it’ll fit back through the hole, wind it all back up on the drum, and hook it to the bow eye. Geez.
It’s still not pulling the boat far enough up on the trailer to suit me. Looks like it’s time for The Macgregor Bump! That consists of slamming on the brakes, inching the boat forward on the trailer, and people looking at you funny. I’ve pooh-poohed this technique in the past, because I’d only experienced a mere two or so inches of shortfall, but this time it looked like it’d seriously impact the trailer’s tongue weight, causing more trailer fishtailing than desired. But that can wait. I’ve still got to drop this mast and secure for travel. Luckily, another fisherman shows up just when I’ve got the gin pole set up, and he’s willing to lend a hand. Crank it down, thank the gentleman, and he’s off to the water. Good luck fishin’, young man.

No significant winds while docking, no unintentional groundings, no fender bolts lost, and no showers for the duration of the trip. Phew!
That’d be pretty much the end of this tale, iffin’ I didn’t have to drive back through Phoenix during rush hour. Whoa. Interstate 17 ain’t no place for a Tucsonan at that time of day. I’ll study alternate routes for those times in the future.

Next time, I think I’ll bring a cat. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

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2 Comments

  1. LOL- I don’t know what half of what u say- but it’s always a fun read- GREETINGS from Scottsdale !! 🙂 and, ya- about the traffic- they need an alternate route all together !!

  2. Tom I finally found the chewed up sailing book that I had your blog address on, it is safe in the favorites now. Sounds like another great adventure has been had, I hope that Joe and I can go with you on your next one, his arm is doing good so whenever you’re going let us know!


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