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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Unschedule Adventure ~ Sailling!

25 foot Catalina
Leaving the Marina
Sailing, Sailing!!
On Tuesday, Dan our neighbor needed a ride up to Boca Chica Marina. He needed to exercise is sailboat. I said I’d be glad to give him a ride considering that I was expecting a package at the Boca Chica Post Office. My package didn’t arrive and I drove Dan over to the Marina. Dan said, “Do you want to go for a sailboat ride”, I said, “sure why not”. I got on board and the first thing Dan says to me, “Take you wallet and phone and put into the cabin”. I’m thinking, “What I’m I getting into now?” It was incredibly hot sitting there while Dan untied about a hundred ropes holding the sails and rigging. He next started the engine and checked the gauges. We backed out of the slip and turned around towards the channel. He said to me, “Do you want to steer the boat?” I answered “Ha”, what do I do”? He said, Steer between the red and green buoys”. An alarm sounds and the depth finder warns of shallow water. He said we need at least four feet of water before we hit bottom, steer more into the middle of the channel. Like a helicopter, if you move the rudder to the right you’ll go left. It sort of like rubbing you stomach and the top of your head at the same time. got the hang of things pretty quickly. 
He had now raised one sail, but because of the islands to our left, we were shielded from the wind. The Boca Chica Channel is about two miles long. Once we cleared the islands and the channel, things changed quickly. Now that the wind caught the sail, the boat leaned over to the right. Dan trimmed the sail and it felt better. The next amazing thing happened all of a sudden He shut off the engine and I felt like we were in outer space! Quietly, gently sailing along Stock Island and further unto the Key West coast. He said, "It's even better when sailing at night with the stars above." 
Juan Valdez heading North
Now, he was teaching me how to really sail. He pointed to little strands of rope five inches long sewed into the sail. When they are tight and horizontal, you are sailing at its best. He then pointed to a feathered triangle, high on the mast. Above the triangle was an arrow, also with a feather. When the arrow feather is to the left you are sailing at top efficiency, at about five and a half knots. 
Now comes another encounter. When you want to head for a, let's say, buoy, you can’t always just point and sail to it. Wow, there is more to sailing than walking the plank! He said, “Head for those shrimp boats, several miles away”. I gently turned the rudder to the right and headed left towards the shrimp boats. All of this time, Dan is explaining rules of sailing, shrimp boat, no, no’s (they have authority if their nets are out). He said they feel that they are working and careless about sailboats. "Hence stay clear to be safe".

It was time to turn around. He said, "When I tell you turn the rudder hard to the right and keep it there". I knew enough that the one and only sail would be shifting to the other side. We had enough wind that he didn't even have the main sail up. He hollered and I moved the rudder. In a flawless moment, we came about 180 degrees. Wow, I’m thinking how does he do all of this when he’s all alone? He did give me all the details, but he’s been sailing for a long time and he didn't go around the world to get back to the slip at the dock!
Boca Chica Channel
It was hard to take pictures, but Dan did use my iPhone to document me at the helm. I hadn’t brought my wide bream hat because it doesn’t have a string to keep it on my head. Dan loaned me one from the sailboat. I look like Juan Valdez bringing coffee up from Columbia!
I can now see how one can have the love of the sea! I had a feeling like being in outer space on the space station. Quiet, peaceful, all alone and I was still insight of land! Thank You “Captain Dan”.

That is what I saw and did.

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