Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sailing: Salinas-Ponce, Ponce-Salinas, December 4-6, 2009

We were invited. Saturday, 12-5-2009 was the date for the Ponce Power Squadron’s Christmas Party. Both Rick and I are active members. The PPS is a part of the United States Power and Sail Squadrons…and yes, we do want the PPS to change its name to the PSPS, the Ponce Sail and Power Squadron. But that’s an issue I will bring up somewhere else. Okay…back on track. This year, the Captain and I decided to sail Orion to Ponce…quasi like the prince and the princess that arrive in a chariot. But will she turn into a pumpkin?...
So we left Salinas at 3 p.m. (1500 for us sailors) on Friday, 12-4-2009…had to employ some tricky boat maneuvers to get out of the slip due to strong winds…and due to the same strong winds (20-23 knots), mercifully blowing from the back, Orion gracefully arrived at Coffin Island in a personal best time of just over two hours. But who’s keeping track anyways? By 5:30 p.m. we had dropped the anchor and just in time for the sunset, glasses in hand we enjoyed yet another wonderful golden sundowner…err… sundown…actually it was both!

Saturday morning, 12-5-2009, we set sail for Ponce and arrived at the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club (PYFC) around 1:30 p.m. where we docked Orion just for one night. The PPS party was nice and as usual we met our good friends Bob and Joan there. Joan and I had decorated the room earlier on in the day…as we have for three years in a row…and it was yet another success :o) Drinks, food, merry times, did I mention drinks (?)…We managed to get back to the PYFC and fell asleep on Orion before midnight. Orion would not turn into a pumpkin after all!

Sunday, 12-6-2009, around 8 a.m. we slowly motored into the wind and away from PYFC. Rick was ready to raise the main sail, but…alas…the halyard (line) was wedged between the lazy jacks (net of lines that guide the mainsail on the boom and mast) and behind one of the mast steps (steps that go up the mast) and didn’t budge! To sail or not to sail! Hangover or not…the Captain, determined to free the line, decided to climb up the mast. It happened in a flash, so I didn’t have time to scream “don’t you dare” but had to put all my wits together to keep Orion moving slowly…very slowly…into the wind (as not to create much movement from waves) and at the same time blocking all brain activity from thinking “he’s going to fall” or “I’ll hear a big thunk noise when he hits the deck”. Instead I mulled myself into “it’s alright”, “nothing will happen”. Yadda-yadda-yadda. Well, praise the Lord, Rick freed the line and climbed back down the steps onto the deck. He raised the sail, and when he came into the cockpit we both congratulated each other on “staying cool”, although I must admit that a few @#*! words escaped my mouth! With the Captain at the helm, I put out the jib (foresail), turned off the engine…and we were sailing at last!

Of course, this time we had to sail against the wind, which is quite a bit more work than sailing with the wind…not to mention the comfort level. Sailing against the wind requires tacking (changing the foresail from one side to the other), because you have to sail a zigzag course in order to arrive at your destination upwind. The wind was picking up a bit and we had a great sail to Coffin Island. On the fly we decided to sail on to Salinas without stopping at the Island. We got settled into a few tacks when all of a sudden the wind started to really blow hard and the sea started churning white caps all over and the waves became pretty large. We learned later that the wind blew at 25-27 knots…pretty wild! We decided to sail to Salinas and not turn on the engine. What a great experience…Our muscles had a good workout, Rick’s with steering Orion and mine with tacking… It was especially fun, because in the distance ahead of us were two other sail boats…so we felt like we were sailing with them…one after the other. Sounds strange, but it gives you a bit of comfort to not be totally alone out there in heavy weather. The pictures you see on this post are taken before the weather turned really rough...We did not want to expose the digital camera to the soggy environment...and hey...we had to keep from tumbling anyways :o) It took us a little over seven hours total sail time from Ponce to our slip in Salinas. Wow! Of course, after rinsing all the salt off Orion it was time for an early sundowner. Low and behold we ended up spending the night on Orion again and only drove back to Ponce Monday morning. How about that? Note to selves: We need to seal the hull-deck-joint, because when we are in heavy seas there is a small leak where salt water enters the interior hull and bleeds into the cabin. Nothing serious but we need to take care of it before it gets worse. On our 1973 Morgan 41 Out Island the hull deck joint is located on the side of the hull underneath the rubrail. Later models have it topside where it is more protected.

I guess we can call ourselves real sailors now, and all these weekend adventures prepare us more and more for the situations that will face us when we are permanently living the dream “out there”. Like Captain Ron says: “If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there”.