See where I’m at: http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/14844.shtml
(Click on the photos and they’ll fill your screen)
I did not stay aboard Lifeline while attending the Bay Week festivities. Not that she is too small to my liking but she is too small and lacks the most primitive of accommodations that would facilitate a more comfortable stay with my wife on board. We stayed in a hotel on the mainland for the three nights of the festival.
I wasn’t really surprised when I arrived at the docks on Friday morning to find most of the fleet already ‘out to sea’. The races all started at 0920 and I didn’t arrive until just after 0900. I was surprised when the inboard boat, Discover, was gone and the outboard boat’s skipper chided me for him having to move my boat. If there was any glitch in the fine work of the Dock Masters it was that what we describe as a ‘support boat’ was tied up next to a competing one. That would be corrected today and I was moved to the forth breasted out boat on the other side of ‘A’ dock. This is where Lifeline looked more like a dinghy than a part of the fleet.
And like a dinghy, on the third night, Saturday, the wind shifted to come out of the North and blew right into Put-in-Bay. Lifeline was the furthest boat out and the only boat breasted out forth. That made her a ‘scoop’ for the wind and pulled the whole group backwards as the wind blew down. Not being aboard, I was not part of the scramble to keep our group from bouncing off the power cruisers behind us. Staying aboard is important, and I know this from the Navy. I was fortunate to have Dock Masters come from our club, and they were more considerate than I might have expected others to be.
Again, my thanks to Gordon Fowler and Brian Ross of Alum Creek Sailing Association, as well as the crew and skippers of the boats I was breasted out from.
My ‘mission’ today was to raise my ‘Donate Life’ foresail to promote signing up for the organ donor registries in Ohio and Michigan primarily. This has been a goal for me since arriving back in Ohio. My wife has been a donor coordinator for fifteen years now. I gave over my time to volunteer for Lifeline of Ohio1 while looking for work. That gave me an opportunity to help promote the concept with a year of volunteer work. I got the idea to put the Donate Life logo on the sail watching video from the Volvo Ocean Race and seeing how they promote their sponsors. Today I would make my debut in the sailing community among the 75 or so yachts racing and the surrounding islands.
The westerly wind made a circumnavigation of Middle Bass Island an easy task. I reached northward. It inverted the logo on the sail, but the logo is pretty bright in the colors on the Dacron and is still visible over my port side in this configuration. The mulit-hull fleet was off to port and I was about a half mile off the shore. Local knowledge was lacking. I’d sailed aboard another boat as crew in the October 2009 Fall Bay Regatta aboard Foghorn, an S2 9.2 out of North Cape Yacht club. I was retracing the route of that trip today, but forgot about the reef between Middle Bass and Sugar Island, just to its northwest (see the NOAA chart link). I had a new chart plotter, courtesy of my wife at Christmas, and I learned quickly enough I was not going between these islands. I came about and beat back windward to circle Sugar Island.
The sun was being shrouded by a blanket of clouds. That was good for two reasons. The first was it kept me from being cooked in the sun. I don’t sail with my bimini up, it keeps me from tending the mainsail. The second was the increase in the westerly wind velocity. It was perfect for flying the sails wing-on-wing and doing so filled out the foresail very well. It would be a ‘banner’ day for showing the logo. I was able to run the whole length of Middle Bass Island’s north shore. Coming behind me were some of the larger catamarans. They blew by me as though I was stuck on that previously mentioned reef, but smiling as they did. Coming from the other direction were some cruisers who chose the opposite direction for the circumnavigation. As they were beating upwind while I was running down, they were smiling and waving as they sat on their rails. This was the most fun of the day.
In case you haven’t pulled up the NOAA chart, Middle Bass extends under the surface for several hundred yards past it’s visible termination and I needed to sail ‘round the buoy marking the end of that reef. Coming to starboard I was crossing that stronger westerly and it continued to grow with the day’s progression. Still, Lifeline and I were able to handle full sails. The cruising fleet regatta was now in sight of us, and though few might be looking in my direction, those that did were able to see the Donate Life logo brightly gleaming back at them.
Lifeline and I had some trouble as we cleared the lee of Middle Bass Island, though. Heeling over wasn’t the problem. Catching the sail on the anchor was. I haven’t modified my anchor’s rigging and it hangs suspended on the bow pulpit as was the design at the time she was built. This puts the flukes and their cross bar up where a tacking sail can catch on them, and the foresail did just that. The light winds that started the day would have allowed me to ease about and free the canvass, but the current conditions would not. She just started to wrap around the forestay. “THAT’s not going to happen. No, no, no, no…” I thought. I might have even said it, or shouted, but as no one else was there to hear me, it’s of no consequence. The ‘energy’ of those words was present on the boat and I loosed the jib halyard and headed her up then went forward.
Now, stand by for the lesson learned….I was wearing my manually inflatable life vest, a safety must on my vessel when single handing, especially in ‘big’ water like the lake. And I almost needed it, as being on my knees and pulling the sail down wasn’t quite enough of a balanced position as the wind kicked the boat around and the waves pushed over the bow. I was wet , the sails were wet, and the deck was wet and I ‘almost’ took a swim. But I managed to get the sail down and put the bungee over it to keep it mostly on deck. The sheets were all twisted and to keep them from pulling the sail about in the wind I removed them from the clew. It was curiosity that hit me as I clasped them onto the mast and noted that Lifeline was sailing herself on a port tack. I had not loosed the main sheet and the tiller had caught on its own tending line. Maybe the boat sensed I was going to fall over and sailed herself under me and gave me a steady ride? It’s a great idea for a fantasy story, but my error in not losing the main sheet put my boat under way with no one at the helm. This would have been a problem in tight quarters, such as might be found within the race course boundaries. Tactically having the anchor mounted as it is caused a situation of concern in safely operating the boat. The money spent at Catalina Direct on a new anchor mount for my bow will be money well spent before the next open water trip.
The jib was down and now the sailing was slower but far better controlled. I needed three tacks between Ballast Island and Middle Bass to make it upwind to the harbor. I used the lee of the west footprint of Middle Bass to my advantage and progressed well toward the remains of the old winery. Clearing this part of the island again I needed to go back and forth from port to starboard tacks one more time before having a straight shot into the harbor. My only disappointment was that with the foresail down I was not showing the logo. Few would be able to see and none would discern the same logo on the pennant at the top of my mast. That was mostly for in-port identification but I left it flying all the time.
It was a terrific day on the water! Just being among the fleets was a thrill for me. Making the debut of the Donate Life logo goal completed a three year vision and commitment I’d made to myself for the program. Over 106,000 people are waiting for life-saving transplants nation-wide in the United States and more than 3,000 of those are in Ohio. (note 3) Ohio allows for voluntary registry through the Department of Motor Vehicles upon driver’s license renewal. One person volunteering can affect up to eight (8) other lives through organ donation and help improve the life-style/mobility of upward s of fifty (50) others through tissue donation, which include giving someone a new set of eyes. The DonateLifeAmerica organization can help you find the means for you to register in your state in the U. S. www.donatelifeamerica.net.
Tomorrow Mindy will join me and we’ll sail out to where the perf fleet are showing their colors!
(1) Please note there is no financial relationship between Lifeline of Ohio and Lifeline Sailing. The name similarity is a coincidence of the entendre’ of the name between the importance of lifelines on a sailing vessel and the name of the central/southeast Ohio Organ Procurement Organization.
(2) The operations and maintenance of Lifeline Sailing are funded by my personal budget and any sales of my book From Tampa to the Cape, Eight Days Around the Florida Peninsula; available through www.iuniverse.com under the nom de plume’ John Louis. The book is available in soft cover and e-format and also available through Barnes and Noble. (I’m somewhere around 450,000th on the best sellers’ list. Marketing, don’t you know)
(3) Facts and figures; organ donation needs; http://www.lifeconnectionofohio.org/donat_facts.html updated since writing the article