We were looking forward to sailing back together. It was only the second day we had together and another beautiful day for sailing was coming up with the sun. The wind was coming in as predicted from the Northwest and it looked as though we’d have a sweet run all the way back to Sandusky.
A glitch would keep Mindy from making the trip, though. She was on call for work and we couldn’t be certain if there would be cell phone coverage along the course as sailed, where ever the wind would blow us. Our excitement diminished and she decided she would head to her dad’s house for an afternoon visit and we’d meet back in Columbus. We said our good-bye and went off to our respective vessels. I got Lifeline under way and she stepped aboard the Jet Express for Port Clinton.
(Follow the journey home on the chart) http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/14844.shtml
I motored out from the breasted mooring and used Gibraltar Island as we had the day before. Clearing the wind shadow it provided I had a wonderful port reach all the way to Ballast Island. I pushed the tiller over and showed the wind her stern, making the transit through the narrow channel South of Ballast Island. I had some company. A couple of motor boats and a forty-foot sailboat joined me. The motor boat had plenty of bottom clearance. The two sailboats were a couple yards close aboard.
One would think that after clearing this channel I’d have hundreds of yards of distance between myself and any other boat. After all, Lifeline is a sailboat and most of the traffic is motor boat traffic; BIG motor boats; cabin cruisers; four bedroom apartments with motors. It seems I was a curiosity and drew these personal cruise liners to me like bugs to a zapper light. Some were courteous and slowed as they passed. Others took their look and rolled on through, leaving me to rock in their wake or change course and turn into the wash. I ended up doing both depending on how much time I had to make the adjustment. I was beginning to feel like a rubber duck in swimming pool full of active splashing kids.
Passing Kelley’s Island to the South my heart beat a little harder. It wasn’t that there was one commercial ferry coming toward me. It was that there were three, and one was the Miller Ferry to Kelley’s. I remember from my Navy days how much different a ship looks when staring down the bow. The beam of the USS Iowa looked foreboding off Guantanamo Bay, and I was standing on the deck of a Navy cruiser. The Miller Ferry looked just as foreboding, I assure you, when looking down its bow from only a couple of feet above the water. Not to worry, though, there was more than a mile between us and I was clear of her course before she needed to blow a horn. The other cargo vessel passed well to my stern and the Jet Express out of Sandusky just seemed to dance around all three of us.
I was running downwind, but with the waves and a bit of shifting of the air with the rising summer sun I found myself jibing often. A Catalina 22 of Lifeline’s vintage won’t run directly downwind due to the lower aft stays keeping the boom from swinging parallel with the beam of the boat. I went back and forth on broad reaches and more than a couple of occasional jibes were ‘unplanned’. Four hours of sailing and I was inside Sandusky Bay once again.
One more obstacle to steer clear of and that was the collier coming out of the port. The Coast Guard came close aboard passing me to port in one of their response RIB’s. Maybe they thought I was too close inside the channel but they cruised on by in one direction and the collier in the other. Like Gibraltar Island out at Put-in-Bay, I was shadowed from the wind. It was time to furl the ‘canvass’ and motor into Sandusky Sailing Club.
To my great surprise and with the joy of returning home from deployment, there was Mindy on the pier when I arrived. She decided to watch for her sailor from the shore, stopping first at Marblehead Lighthouse, then traveling around the Bay and stopping at four different marinas before seeing my truck and trailer in downtown Sandusky. We hauled Lifeline out after her full weekend of work for us, wrapped her up and thanked our host, Dock Master Tim, and went off to dinner overlooking the Bay. We enjoyed a tandem ride home down State Route 4, and we arrived home as the sun was setting down to its evening rest.
The four days of sailing Lifeline was a dream-come-true. It took work and sweat, planning and more research, and mostly it took patience and persistence. Most dreams do.