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After reading a horror story about a cat climbing the mains’l, and my general dislike for the smell of cat litter, I decided to leave Tabby at home with Pam.

Damn fine weather we’re having here in Southern AZ, with sunny skies and temps in the upper 70s. For the dates between December 27th and 31st, I am geeked. Sorry to all you Northerners, but after having lived in Michigan for around 40 years, well, I guess I’m spoiled. Check that: I know I’m spoiled.

The Holiday Boogie was going on at Skydive Arizona from Christmas Eve through New Year’s day, and there were friends from all over who had come to town I wanted to see or make a jump with. Dave and Cindy here are two of my favorite reasons to show up for this boogie. They hail from Seattle.

I’ve never been to the NW area. I wouldn’t mind sailing up thataways, someday. When it’s warm, of course.

I only made one jump that day, a 32-way formation load. It’s pretty cool seeing a DeHavilland Twin Otter flying offset, right behind and below your Shorts Bros. Skyvan. The jump didn’t go quite as planned, with the base funnelling immediately off of the Skyvan’s ramp. Your humble author, my buddy Dave and six others were in that funnelled base. After a few too many beers, I spent the night in the parking lot.
Of course, I was on the boat, in the parking lot.
Mmmmmmm, beer.

Day 2-
A bit bleary from last night’s “free” beer, I awoke to freezing temperatures. But that L. L. Bean sleeping bag I use did its job just fine. So I get out on the road to Lake Pleasant around 10 AM, coordinating my noon arrival at the parking lot with Bob, my guest from the previous expedition. He also brought some extra crew. Son James, and grandson, Robert. This is the largest crew I’ve ever sailed with! The set-up of the boat was done in record time (for me, anyway), approximately 1.25 hours.

A grand helmsman

Robert proved to be an able helmsman, after getting that whole tiller thing figured out. We even got to fly the spinnaker without any difficulties.

That’s Balance Rock Island we were zipping alongside. We rode the spinnaker as long as possible, putting us a couple/few miles North of the ramp and marina. As you may know, going downwind is a piece of cake, timewise, compared to going upwind. So around 4:00-ish we started beating back Southward in earnest.

Now, Bob can point that little boat into the wind like nobody’s business, but there are only so many hours in a day. I had just replaced the navigation light on the bow the week before, a festive red and green one (in keeping with the season), but if I have to motor or motorsail at night, I’m also going to need a steaming light up on the mast in order to be truly “legal”. I’ll most likely get one soon, but I’ll also have to do all the little changes that’ll be needed to accommodate it, such as an expanded fuse panel, upgraded electrical deck connections, mast wiring, et cetera, et cetera…
So it goes with boats. “Break Out Another Thousand.” I may be overstating the amount, but then, I am a cheap bastard.

While we were headed back towards the ramp, I tried to hail Pleasant Harbor Marina on the VHF to reserve a slip, but whoever I got at the marina couldn’t (or didn’t want to) understand my transmissions. This was the first time I’d ever tried to use the radio, and I was unsure if the problem was with me or the marina. (The next day, I tried a radio check from the same place. Came through loud and clear, and the only real difference was the person I spoke with.) Hmmmm, seems to be the marina that has the problem. Perhaps they were busy that afternoon.
After dropping Bob and his boys off at the ramp, I motored over to the marina and pulled into the same transient slip I’d occupied one month ago. Not ten minutes later, the very same waterfowl from one month ago showed up.

While relaxing with dinner and drink, this lovely little sailboat silently docked across the way from me.

I couldn’t help but tell the sailors aboard her what a charming boat she is. Turns out that the owners, Terry and Oleg, are from Tucson, same as me. Just a few miles South of my place, in fact.

Day 3-
After another chilly night, this time afloat, I put out onto the lake at the same time as the other Tucsonans, and took a few photos of their West Wight Potter 15 under sail. Terry or Oleg, if you’re reading this, feel free to copy these photos. Heck, anyone can. “Pelican” is an apt moniker, don’t you think?

I’ve gotta try focusing that camera better, eh? Sorry, I will do better next time!

Conditions on the lake that day were fairly quiet, and for most of the day they just kept getting quieter. Around midday I had the main and genoa barely moving me along, to where I felt comfortable enough to do some reading of (and napping to) “The Taming of the Shrew”.
Shakespeare can do that to you.
A little later in the afternoon the winds improved moderately, to the point where I was able to sail right up to the marina. Yes, I must admit that I was proud to sail a beam reach just past a couple of fishermen, turn her downwind to a wing-on-wing configuration (all the while quietly chatting up the fishermen) which paraded the boat slowly down a narrow channel to the harbor mouth. I wasn’t sure of the room I’d have to tack when making the turn into the harbor, as there’s only about 20-25 yards of clearance there, so I dropped sails just before. Someday I hope to get good enough to sail her right into her slip, if the wind gods are willing.
Someday, I may have to do so, willing or not.

An Unprecedented Day 4-
Waking up around 7:00 and, holy mackerel. The winds have picked up somewhere around 10-15 knots, with small whitecaps! I motor out of my slip into the cove and begin to haul yards. Shut down the motor, and bring her smartly over onto a starboard tack. Probably should have looked first, as there’s a Catalina 25 right there on my port beam! Another quick comeabout puts the other sailor’s mind at ease, I hope, but then I notice that my boom is still hanging from the pigtail on the backstay! D’oh! She was sailing just fine in that fairly protected cove with the boom dangerously hog-tied!
Unhook the boom and get over your embarrassment, Tom. Get back to the business at hand.
The winds were high enough for me to feel the need to lock down the keel, so I hove to and did just that. Fear of capsizing tends to have me hypervigilant at the tiller, maybe because of the seemingly unpredictable winds I’d experienced at Roosevelt Lake. But this is Lake Pleasant, and the winds here seem to stay at a much more consistent speed and heading. After a while, I began to relax and let the boat heel more and more. I was able to adjust the sail trim to where I could lock the tiller, and she’d sail an elongated S-shaped course all by herself. The trim was also dependant on where I happened to be on the boat. If I went forward, she’d fall off course. If I fell off the boat, she’d probably sail off without me. Might want to look into jacklines and a harness someday, just in case?
After an hour or two of spirited sailing, the winds came down to exactly next to nothing. Even my spinnaker hung mostly limp.

I had sailed about half way up the lake, into the wind, expecting to blast back downwind to the ramp for retrieval by a decent hour, i.e. before noon. I’ve still got to tear down the rigging and secure for trailering, usually about two hours when solo, so I stowed the spinnaker and fired up the aluminum gennie for the slow ride South to the ramp.

The Ramp. The ramp was a happening place, it now being a warm Saturday noontime, and you’ve just got to wait your turn, don’tcha know? There’s a loose heirarchy involved, and you certainly don’t want to make anyone wait to get _onto_ the lake. But if you’re soloing, well, things can take longer. I tie off at the dock, hustle up to my truck and get in line. The gentleman ahead of me is waiting for his companeros to arrive at the dock for haulout, so we talk a bit about the busy ramp. As I’m technically ready for haulout, he offers to ride back down to the ramp with me to help get my boat out of the way of the still more boaters, who are now stacking up in the cove. Nice guy!

Kevin and I wait another few minutes until the slot right next to the dock clears out, and then it’s time to get wet. Remember what happened the last time I did this? That little problem with the winch cable? Well, it happened again. But I can still say that I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and the MacGregor Bump was only slightly necessary. In the meantime, I re-wrapped the cable end twice through the drum holes this time. I found a meathook or two on the cable while tightening it back up. So, ouch.
Kevin and his buddies get their powerboat up to the parking lot while I’m still tearing down, and one of them is kind enough to help with the lowering of the mast. I gave them the last of my beers for all their help. It seems I’m always relying on the kindness of strangers.

Bob, it was a pleasure seeing you again, and meeting your family. I appreciate all the company and help you’ve been to me. How soon ’til your Venture gets wet? And Robert, there’ll be a swivel or two in my tacklebox next time!

Jim, remember that nut and bolt you gave me for that trailer fender, way back in October? It finally gave up the ghost! Strangely enough, instead of rattling loose, it had sheared right off during my drive home that afternoon. There may be some forces going on back there…
I had stocked my toolbox with a few spares, so it was a non-issue. I hope all’s well with you and yours.

Things I should probably deal with sometime soon:
1- Alternator installation for the outboard, so I can charge the battery when I’m without AC power.
2- Impeller replacement/spare for the outboard.
3- Mast-mounted steaming light (and all that that entails) for night operations.
4- Trailer brakes, for out-of-state travel?

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2 Comments

  1. Sounds like you had a blast! I’m still on the hard but looking forward to doing the same thing on different water,,

  2. another fun adventure- nice read !! (better than Shakespeare !!) 🙂


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