John asked if I fancied going sailing. He had to ask? That’s a given.
A series of heavy thunderstorms on Wednesday put paid to our first planned outing. So we rescheduled for Friday – not an auspicious day to go sailing if you are superstitious, but fortunately, I’ve only just remembered that.
The plan was for a seven-thirty start; do some ‘boaty’ chores followed by some sailing trials – trying out the small jib and some practice anchoring. John’s boat still hasn’t got a mainsail – which is off somewhere being cleaned and repaired.
On arriving at Stockton State Park Marina John tried to tempt me with the offer of going sailing first. Been there, done that, and I knew full well, we’d not get any of the chores done. So we wisely decided on sticking to the work-before-play plan.
Work comprised re-fitting all the mooring lines which had been tied around the pontoon superstructure and were very quickly rubbing through. We fitted chains and looped the lines through the shackles holding the chain ends together.
The wind was quite gusty but I didn’t bother to put on the chin straps of my hat. That was a mistake. The wind caught my hat and knocked it off. I made a frantic but successful grab and stopped it getting dunked in the lake. However, my sudden movement resulted in…
That moment when you watch your only pair of glasses committed to the deep.
This was rapidly followed by the realization that my glasses are so light they were sinking very slowly. I managed to reach down and grab ’em double-quick before they sank out of reach. Phew.
After a lot of adjusting and fiddling, we were happy with the way the boat was tied up, so on to our next task – sorting out the anchor ready for use. John measured the anchor line – at over eighty feet it was enough for use around the edges of the lake.
With anchor tidied away and some other chores completed it was time for some sailing.
Reversing out of the berth John lost the steering – he’s had this happen before, and sure enough, the problem was that the outboard motor had rotated through ninety degrees in its mount and was trying to drive the boat round in circles. Not wanting to waste time on pesky engines, I hopped over the back of the boat onto what I call the back porch, but is officially known as a ‘walkout transom’ grabbed the engine and twisted it the right way round and held it there for a while until we were sure it wasn’t going to twist around again.
We had a good breeze but with only the small jib set we had trouble tacking. A combination of the wind on the topsides, the waves hitting the bow and our lack of speed meant the boat would refuse to go through the wind onto the opposite tack. Being devious and having often sailed under jib alone I had a suggestion – tack by gybing, which works but loses you a lot of ground.
We reached a quiet cove where we had our first try at anchoring (notice I say first). I’ve no idea what the problem was, but the anchor didn’t hold and the wind was pushing us towards the shore. I quickly pulled in the anchor (all eighty-odd feet of line) while John got us sailing again.
At the next cove we went closer to shore and made absolutely sure we were stopped in the water before I chucked the anchor over the side. It held beautifully. There we were anchored in a little bit of Ozark’s Lakes Beauty. Superb greenery topped by a deep blue sky. Off to stern (north), there was a small bluff just to add a little bit of variation.
Just for fun, we decided to see how the Bimini top worked. Before you ask, no I’d never heard of a Bimini top before either. It’s a giant sunshade for the cockpit which you can have set up even when you are sailing. With a bit of head-scratching we got it set up.
In fact, it was so glorious I couldn’t resist testing the walkout Transom and the built-in boarding ladder. A swim was called for.
Before upping anchor and sailing back to the marina we decided to try out the big Genoa, so we swapped the sails. We were still disappointed with the boat’s performance on the port tack. So we started experimenting. It turns out you can’t afford to be lazy and keep the engine in the water. The increased drag and the effect it has on the boat by being mounted off-center makes a lot of difference to how the boat sailed.
All in all, we had a great time. I’ll gloss over the mooring practice back at the marina. In flying, repeated landing practice is called ‘bump and go’ shall we just say that was an appropriate moniker for our mooring practice too.Copyright © 2013 Gary Allman, all rights reserved. For Ozarks Walkabout