May 18, 2007
arrived at Brannan Island State Park a little after 6:00 PM, paid my
fees for the weekend ($34.00 total, for one launch ($5.00,) one slip
for Friday night ($14.00,) and Day use (parking) for three days ($15.00))
and set off to the boat ramp to find Robert Sampson Rigged and
involved in a little housekeeping aboard his vintage P-15"ESP."
Robert and I talked while
I rigged, and were soon joined by Pat Brannan. One by one we launched
and motored the short distance to the berths where we tied up for the
evening. Pat then chauffeured us over to Rio Vista for dinner and
refreshment at a local Italian restaurant. Then it was pack the the
park and to bed for another restful night aboard Lazy Ka. The few
nights that I have spent sleeping aboard are some of the most restful
to be had. With the sounds of local birds, wind in the trees,
water lapping at Lazy Ka, and her gentle rocking motion, I'm asleep in
May 19, 2007
I was out of my rack by 6:00 AM for an early morning stroll along
the park's main drive to the front gate and highway, then back to the
marina by way of the waterfront along Threemile Slough. By 8:00 A.M.
several other boats were in the parking lot making ready for the day;
others continued to roll in with Mitch Carnes being the last arrival
some time just after 9:00 A.M.
Promptly at 10:00 A.M.
twelve boats were away and headed out Threemile Slough into consistent
winds of 6-10 knots. This was a significant improvement over last
year's delta outing, where we experienced very light air outgoing and
on most of our return trip on Sunday. As we continued the four miles
out Threemile Slough onto the main channel of the Sacramento, and
False River beyond, we continued to experience building winds.
Eastbound on False River we had a 20 knot wind at our back with modest
guts to 25 knots.
The winds continued to be
reasonably strong as we made the southerly turn along the east side of
Jersey and Bethel Island onto Piper Slough. It was along here that Don
Person turned back for the State Park as he was unable to stay on with
us for the night.
Just past 1:30 P.M. found
most boats secured at Lundborg's docks with skippers sitting at the
bar enjoying a cold beer, perusing the menu for lunch, or relaxing on
their boats. It was at the bar that we learned more of the troubles
experienced by Dave White on the outbound leg. Dave had handling
problems that brought him dangerously close to the rip-rap along the
Eastern side of the main channel of the Sacramento. I was a little
over 50 yards from Dave while he was all too near the shore; I was
listing closely to our marine radio channel for a call should he be in
serious peril. If the need arose,
would have been there to assist in two or three minutes; but no call
came, and Dave recovered without assistance.
Just past 2:00 P.M. the
last stragglers, Steve Potter and Ed Dove sailed into Lundborg's, and
Bud Kerner turned for for home, unable to spend the night as well.
This reduced our fleet to ten.
The afternoon was spent
with more social time and energetic napping activity by some. Hors
D'Oeuvers were shared on the docks before all returned to the
restaurant for dinner. On the recommendation of Jerry Barrilleaux, I
had saved my apatite for the prime rib dinner; Jerry had started
talking abut this in the middle of the afternoon. Most of us followed
Jerry's lead, and none were disappointed. It was well worth the wait.
The restaurant and bar
closed on our heels as we turned for our bunks just before 10:00 P.M.
for another restful night aboard.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I slept in this morning . . . all the way to 6:30 A.M. Returning
from a brief stroll along the levee, I found Ed Dove and Harry Gordon
in early morning conversation aboard their P-15s nested at the dock. I
joined them; we were subsequently joined by others as we waited for
the restaurant to open, and a first cup of morning coffee.
The forecast was for
less wind today, and the day seemed to be setting out to do just that.
The waters along the slough were like glass; the windsock on a staff
atop the eastern levee was hanging limp. There was absolutely no air
movement. Dave Kautz, the last to rise, swapped to a larger headsail
on his O'Day in anticipation of light-air sailing for the day.
No sooner had we sat
down to breakfast, we witnessed evidence of winds beginning to blow;
first movement of flags and the windsock, then waves and whitecaps out
on the open waters of Frank's Track.
Following a delicious
breakfast, Dave changed headsails, once more for heavier winds, and
the rest made ready to put out for the return trip to Brannan Island.
Under the experienced leadership of Jerry Barrilleaux all boats
motored a good part of the return trip. On making the turn from the
protection of Piper Slough along eastern Bethel Island onto False River, we found
our selves driving into a near 40 knot blow with whitecaps on three
foot swells. Control for most was marginal at best. As the bow would
fall from a passing swell, the stern would rise, the prop would cavitate, and headway would be lost. Several found the bow then acting
like a sail, being turned off the wind. Without adequate power, no
amount of tiller would point the boat back on heading. This
necessitated the uncomfortable maneuver of doing a 360 degree turn off
the wind, allowing the prop to recover; with power restored, the
Skipper could now power back into the wind.
Dave Kautz (now known to his friends as “This Ain’t no motorboat”
Dave) was first to set sail. Dave uses the 2hp Honda outboard from his P-15 as
auxiliary power on his O’Day as well. As Dave put it, in short, ‘. . .
2hp . . . NO WAY . . . ‘.
I was next under sail, at first raising a single reefed Main only,
then unfurling my Lapper as well. I found that I was making more
headway under sail than with a marginally effective outboard. In these
high winds, I quickly learned that there are times when no headsail at
all is the best option. With the Lapper, Lazy Ka wouldn’t point well
at all, she wanted to fall off the wind, maintaining course was
difficult; reefing the Lapper with the furler didn’t help either. When
I returned to Mainsail only, all was well.
One of the first lessons learned from my Bay Area Potter mentors, was
to sail with Mainsheet in hand at all times. In Sunday’s high winds I
found it easy to maintain 10-15 degrees of heel. Occasional gusts
bring the Leigh rail to the water’s edge. Twice, I took on a bit of
water, about a quart, before I could dump the main to bring her back
Lazy Ka’s Main has two reefing points; until
today I couldn’t
imagine conditions where using the second reef would be necessary.
Sunday came very close to that point. On every outing I seem to come
away having learned something new, this weekend was no different. I
was amazed at how well my little P-15 sails in high winds with reefed
Main only. She just scoots right along. If Sunday’s winds had been a
consistent blow in excess of 40 knots, I suspect that I would have
employed the second reef.
Dave Kautz and I slowed
our return to keep an eye on Ed Dove who was bring up the rear of the
main flotilla. For a skipper with only a couple of years experience,
Ed did a masterful job at handling the high winds. Dave and I landed
at the dock under sail to the amazement of Jerry Barrilleaux. After
hauling out I caught up with Robert Sampson to learn that he had
developed a crack in his Gunter Spar at the Gooseneck. The stresses
must have been tremendous as this spar is something like a nine-ply
laminated assembly! One heck of a strong piece of timber.
Dave White was late out
of Bethel Island for the return trip, so he sailed back alone. He
arrived back at Brannon Island just about the time I finished making
Lazy Ka ready for the road, so I hung around while he de-rigged. After
Dave hauled out and a hull inspection was made, he reported no damage
from yesterday's mishap. The daggerboard of "Wee Boat" was deep enough
to keep him off the Rip-Rap. This gave him time to sort things out and
back off under outboard power. It was a masterful recovery.
I stayed to the bitter
end, keeping Dave company while he packed for his drive home. Though
I've sailed with Dave several time over the past year, this was the
first time that I really had a chance to talk with him. Bucks Lake
came up, and Dave showed some interest in the two of us doing a
check-out sail together . . . more sailing on mountain lakes!