Chasing Venus

The wind was a bit more that last week’s breath of air.  It was running a steady 6-7 mph by the weather service’s guestimate but the 4 x 6′ Stars and Stripes was standing nearly straight out from my yard as I motored out of the channel adding 2 kts to whatever the real wind speed was.  The ensign was up in honor of the memory of those lost on 9-11.  Several of us responded to the invitation of the Race Committee Chair to fly the flag before and during the race tonight.  I kept my banner up while running up the lake and with the wind toward the start line.  It only hung down along the halyard as the air pushed me northward, but when I turned about she flew straight back, full in the breeze.  If anyone was watching from the State marina they knew we were doing something different this night.  I ran past the marina and then hove to and struck the colors for the race.

The race didn’t go well for Lifeline and me tonight.  I was at the start early and when I brought the boat about I didn’t get through the wind.  The wind pushed back and I had to fall off away from the line to make speed and turn again.  I crossed the line last and two minutes late.  If you’ve been watching the 34th America’s Cup (NBC Sports Network) you know that any time given up means a lost race.  I did catch the last two boats on the first leg and the next two boats on the second upwind leg.  But running down wind I just couldn’t get the sails trimmed, I was inside the shoreline wind shadow, and the wind itself died off to 3 mph.  Penguin II with her three-lady crew caught and passed me by the third mark and though I could point higher than they could, three boat lengths was too much to make up in the short leg back to the finish.  Forth place and managing the problems was the return for the race tonight.  With the wind falling off with the sunset, I was just glad it wasn’t another DNF (did not finish).

it was dark by the time Penguin II and Lifeline crossed the line.  We both opened up the sails to the wind and glided across the water, crossing each other’s course a couple times in the next half hour.  The red glow in the western sky dimmed and the stars brightened.  The Big Dipper’s cup was in the soup that was the horizon as if getting a measure to serve.  Opposite in the sky was the half moon waxing its way to full.  The storms that had dampened the air and ground as we began the evening were far off to the east, clearing all the trailing wisps.

Penguin veered off and darkness closed in until it seemed I was the only one on the lake.  Coming about toward the west Venus shown bright.  Well above the soup and separated from the moon by the width of an upheld hand I was chasing her across the lake.  Each tack to the west brought her back between the port side stays and the mast and just above the bow.  I chased her for an hour more before returning to home port.  So quiet it was on the lake I took the extra time of gliding on momentum into the marina inlet even after the wind was shadowed completely by the south shore.  No motor noise would break the gurgling quiet of Lifeline’s hull with the water…    not until the sails were furled, then only long enough to get me into the slip.



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