Tag Archives: Wind

Wing-On-Wing!

The day began for one of my crew at 0200 when hurricane Hermine blew through the Tampa area.  Brooksville, FL is near sixteen miles inland and on a rise above sea level around thirty-feet.  The winds were fierce enough to blow over her shed and lightning knocked out power.  Remarkably, when the shed went over it did not blow into the minivan sitting just beyond it and all the contents stayed where they were placed within it.

The coming storm was to be severe enough to last for several days and foul air travel up the east coast along its path.  She had made arrangements to change her flight to Ohio and come earlier, hoping to avoid all the delays expected to result from the storm’s turbulent trek.  Her effort paid off and the flight was delayed only by thirty-minutes.  She arrived to sun, blue sky, and temperatures in the mid-60’s.  What a remarkable change.

Still, a day that begins at 2am becomes a long day when it includes the displacement of a cross-country flight, hauling even a small bag, and shopping to buy an Ohio State jersey for the game.  After all, that’s what this trip was supposed to be about; coming to her first Ohio State Football Game in Ohio Stadium!  Sailing was only a side activity she hoped to enjoy as part of the extended weekend with us and her sister.  Coffee and an hour relaxing in our living room and she and her mother were ready to take a ride on Lifeline.

We went by the grocery store and picked up a supper of submarine sandwiches, potato salad, pretzel chips, hummus, and sodas.  Packed into a paper bag to help keep all cool we were off to the dock.  The steady northerly breeze predicted was on time and brought others to the docks as well.  There was a sense of anticipation at the marina and a growing activity as the Labor Day holiday weekend was beginning.  Lifeline lay ready to work with us at her slip and was quickly made ready for getting under way.

We motored out around ‘B’ docks and out the channel.  The wind on the water assured us of its northerly direction.  There was no doubt it was blowing at 10+ with some ‘white’ caps noticeable; not too noticeable I hoped, else my crew might beg off.  As we cleared the point of the east-west channel, the wind bumped us over on a bit of a heel.  I had my daughter steer us into it and my wife and I raised the mains’l full.  It would be enough for this ride up Alum Creek Lake.  The sail climbed the mast easily, showing the adjustments I made to the mast worked well and the sail slides remained in their channel as designed.  We fell off to starboard, set the main for a close reach.  The motor was stopped and raised up.  We were a sailboat now.

There was one northeasterly tack upwind.  The wind was such that when we came about I could point Lifeline north and setting the main for a close-hauled starboard tack, I ‘rode the groove’ for the three miles to the causeway.  The girls chatted and had supper, laughing, watching the sun, watching the other boats, and enjoying their ride.  I ‘ate up’ the time I had at the helm, watching the tell-tales, the pennant at the masthead, and the luff of the sail to hold our course.

The wind was still steady from the NNE and bringing the boat about I could set the sails for wing-on-wing, main to starboard and a whisker pole for the jib.  She was quite a site as she ran down wind and the other boats on the water simply parted as we neared.  One, though, a 21′ speed boat decided to take a closer look.  It’s driver circled us a hundred feet out from our hull and waved as he speed up the lake.

A wonderful sail concluded as the sun set and we entered the channel on a beam reach. The trees did the shadowing of the wind as I hoped, and we furled the sails as momentum took us into the harbor.  We tied Lifeline up as the last streams of twilight faded from behind the trees.

Retired Sailor, Hope and Lament

Sailor on sigsbridge

Alas, she’s in the boneyard
Resting quietly at the pier.
No masts, no men, no mighty guns,
no more liberty ports for fun.
The fires that drove her across the seas
are cooled and nearly dowsed.
All that remains as I grab this rail
is to shead a final tear.

A new grey hound surges forth
out bound from the channel deep.
She leaps across the mounting waves
no energy she saves,
a new threat appears across the sea
so forward to the fray
This ship, her crew, surging forth, making way.
My heart and soul new shipmates, in my prayers I’ll keep.

A former shipmate posted the photo above (credit imgflip.com) and inspired the follow-on verses.  The image reminds me of Norfolk Naval Station on  a cold, foggy day.  Both of the ships I served on, and all three of the nuclear prototype training facilities, and the Nuclear Power School location I taught at (Orlando, FL) are decommissioned.

SPLASH!

SPLASH!

 Water enveloping me, all around

Gurgling past my ears as I swim

Gurgling behind the boat as I sail

Gurgling around the bubbles express by my dive gear

Gurgling from the Baptismal font

Sounds of the water and air mixing is all I hear.

 

Water around my eyes erases clear vision

A shield of clear glass restores air to my sight, yet

The seal and shape of the swim goggles limit my view

The dive mask too limits, and splits the view into disjointed panels

Sails hide the field of view ahead

In the font of the Jordan all vision is erased again.

 

Two senses diminished

I feel the water around me

In the pool and the font heat is pulled out of my body

A dive suit holds some water close, yet the heat still drains away

Aboard the boat the damp air and my sweat wet make my hair lie flat,

And I lose the feel of the wind. Now three senses are gone.

 

And still

 

I gladly jump into a pool of water to swim

I yearn for the taste and feel of the water of a dive

I long for the smell and the feel of the wind and its pull on a sail

I commit to the washing of myself with the waters of the font

As I touch my mind, my heart, and cross my shoulders each

Time I leave and return home.

 

How can I go where my vision is impaired?

How can I find my way in the pool?

What do I trust in that I can swim with in the sea?

What do I know that lets me sail with canvass or steam?

What is this water of the Jordan that I wash in

What does it give me that tap does not?

 

I am filled with the Water of Life

The Water that formed from the four rivers of Eden

The Water that flowed and collected the Seas

The Water that floated sailors from Noah to Galilee and to the World

The Water that was more than a river when HE stepped into it

The Water of the Spirit offered to us all

 

The Water that gives Life and the Faith required to

SPLASH!

 

I don’t write poetry very often.  I think this is the second in a decade.  If there is need of interpretation, I leave it to the reader as they may appreciate.  ‘Z’ 1-18-15

The storm blew in, and took me with it!

You know, it was just one wonderfully warm evening last Tuesday when I stepped aboard Lifeline and prepped her to motor to the ramps. The prediction for weather was some increasingly heavy rain and I knew I was pressed for time. There was a temptation to raise a sail one last time, but I would have to bend the foresail back on. I didn’t want to take the time.

I snapped some pictures of the docks as I walked out and again as I motored away. Mostly empty, they seemed lonesome and the quiet about them unnatural. It was a good year. I was absent more than in the past yet those times when I came down there were always many others enjoying the marina and the boats. I sighed and turned back to the task at hand, motoring out across the lake to New Galena ramp on the east side of the lake. Lights hadn’t been installed in the new parking lot at the Hollenbeck ramp where the State’s marina is, and I was most definitely out ‘after dark’.

Half way across the lake, I decided I’d raise my keel board. I didn’t want to run aground in the dark only a few feet from a dock. It’s shallow on the east side, too shallow for my counterbalance of lead to be sticking down. Besides, I was motoring and didn’t need the counterbalance to begin with.

It’s fifty cranks of the winch handle to raise or lower the keel board. The handle rotates close to the wood edge of the companion way and I knocked my fingers a few times. I was alone on the lake, so being below wasn’t too big a deal. I had the tiller tender set to hold the rudder for a steady course for a few minutes while I worked the wire and wheel. That’s why the ‘bump’ was such a surprise when I lost my balance.

What made the boat heave over was the wind! The weather front hadn’t arrived with rain yet, but the wind ahead of it was stirring. I took another fifteen-degree push from starboard and lost my balance again. Holy cow! What’s going on?!

Back at the tiller, I could feel the wind blowing across my face, and Lifeline blowing sideways across the lake. I adjusted course to starboard, bringing the bow toward the New Galena channel, yet I was still moving sideways. I increased the motor speed and turn right again. I was still slipping sideways in this wind, and I couldn’t see any signs of it on the water in the dark. Another large gust caught the boat and heaved me over again.

Mindy was watching from the ramp and couldn’t understand why she could see the mast light seeming to drift toward the shoreline instead of the docks. She said later she was just amazed; right up until the wind hit her at the shoreline. Then she understood. She went to the truck and pulled the trailer down to the ramps. She was backing it down when I finally turned Lifeline into the docks.

Except that Mindy was on one ramp and I was coming in to the one beside it. There was no chance I was going to get into where she was and ‘drive’ right onto the trailer. Not tonight. Not in this blow. I jumped up from the tiller and grabbed the lines I had on the port side, bringing them onto the starboard. I tied off as securely as I could while Mindy brought the trailer over one lane. The wind was whipping up whitecaps on the open water and the exposed dock was being beaten about handily. I was grateful the wind didn’t let me pull in there. That dock might have gotten on the trailer before I could get the boat on it.

Now, the trailer down in the water put the winch out in knee-deep black and COLD water. I knew I wanted dry clothes in this wind since it was going to take two hours to get the mast down and everything rigged for the road. Mindy hadn’t even thought about being in the water so she was rather surprised when she turned and saw me dropping my trousers and kicking off shoes. She had grabbed the boat hook to push Lifeline out far enough to get onto the trailer while I snapped the winch strap to the bow. It was so COLD my ankles HURT!

I had Lifeline snapped to and hauled to the winch but she was still floating and beating herself on the dock. I jumped up onto the dock and took the boat hook from Mindy. She went to the truck and started inching the trailer up the ramp. It’s really difficult to push on a Catalina 22 with only the point of and/or the hook on the end of a five-foot aluminum pole, against a 25-knot wind! Little-by-little we made it, though, and Lifelike has but a couple degrees ‘heel’ she’ll sit with on the trailer this winter.

The rest of the night went smoothly. The rain didn’t come in ‘til we were near finished. The trees on the shoreline broke the wind once we pulled away from the ramps. The lights at New Galena gave us plenty to work under, and they were almost WARM with their halogen glow. The turnbuckles came loose, the gin-pole snugged tight, and the mast came down slow and controlled (thanks again, Kevin). We pulled away in under an hour-and-a-half, towing my mistress behind me with the help of my wife.

My trousers? Oh, no, I didn’t forget. Those I retrieved as soon as she hauled the boat out. Those overhead lights weren’t really warm…

(It’s really nice to ‘blow’ through a thousand words for fun.  The other three thousand tonight went toward school)

The Moon Filled the Night, Fresh Air Filled My Lungs

The sliver of orange that crested over the treetops gave credence to the possibility that this morning’s eclipse would be repeated this night. There was no real expectation. Like the anticipation of All Hallows Eve brings those who use spooky spoofs, so this creeping splinter of deep amber light seeped into the late evening sky. It teased with that hint of gray it had set with only twelve hours earlier. It is the October moon, hidden last night by the shadow of clouds and rain, come out to survey the wind and water upon which we were sailing.

The persistent breeze just north of west blew stiff enough for the racers to have hoped it would hold for a twice-round-the-course campaign. Gusty it was in the late afternoon dropping off in intensity toward evening as it steadied into a more even stream. I was there for the Night’s Light alone and this same wind that let the others give chase I gave over to Lifeline to pull me north. I trimmed the sails by sitting to starboard and heeling Lifeline over to keep a most northerly course. The wind in my face, I watched the moon over my shoulder, occasionally turning full to face it. It was as if there was a line from Lifeline’s bow to the bridge ahead, then to the moon. As the latter rose steadily into the sky, Lifeline moved steadily north.

It was colder this year than last. The darkness along the shoreline was as black, the moon not fully above the dust and deflection of a deeper atmosphere. Colder, as well, the crickets were quieter. Depending on their voices to warn me to tack wasn’t something to trust as I closed on the eastern shore. The wind rose a bit and gave Lifeline a lift. A few more degrees were all that was needed to clear a point ahead.

The causeway was busy and the wake noise of tires grew as a pounding surf. The moon was higher yet still not full bright so the lights and the noise were the gage for finding the causeway. I held course with care, then with concern, and finally with trepidation. Still I held longer, driving on forward dragging all I could from this northerly path. Now, yes NOW, … time to ‘about.

I let the wind do the work of taking the sails over and pushing them out away from Lifeline on her opposite side. I let the lines run until the course was reversed, then drew them up easy and snug. The moon was now high fully clear of the haze and it bathed Lifeline and I in full bright light. The cast-a-way cushion for crew overboard became a layer of warmth for my bum. I sat in the stern, my back against the ladder. Ahhhhhh…..the wind and the sails did the work.

The moon lit the night, fresh air filled my lungs, and the Spirit was refreshing my soul. Though I prefer to share this deck and the tides with those that I like and I love, this solitude is a respite that is no less than a gift from Above. As with all who seek to convene with their Lord in a manner of meditation, the journey to moments like this comes in the layers of ever spiraling work. The moonlight provides an occasion when full, but other nights likely do as well.

It begins with the commitment to ‘get underway’, the preps and the work on the vessel. There’s the journey ‘out of the channel’ and surveying all that appears. On the lake there are the boats, in the mind there are all those ‘other’ obstacles from the day and the week, and the month,   …and the year that one must work to steer clear. Once ‘on the water’ the sails still need trimmed, the helm attended, and what may creep in from outside. A journey of the soul to touch the Veil and draw strength must permit other ‘boats’ to just pass in the night. As with Elijah in the cave, it is through the winds and the lightning and the storms we let pass that the quiet of God is allowed in.

So it was this night as I sailed down the lake, and the October full moon rose over Alum. In the quiet of the night, with an ever fading breeze, the peace I sought and required came. And my soul opened up, and battles were fought. Mud, water, and sludge were scrubbed away. As the moon bathed my body so God bathed my soul and in His mercy gave me vision and hope.

 

            I find it necessary to bear solitude. However, I am the oldest of eight siblings and have nine cousins on one side of the family and thirteen on the other, so being part of a larger group is the norm for me. It was a gift to be met at the dock at 10p.m. by Reagan Cole, the crew of Sledgehammer, and several others with smiles and working hands. I’ve never not had to tie up my own boat. This night, I couldn’t get a hand on a line before they were all over and tied off. Thanks to all the Alum Creek sailors that bore a hand in securing Lifeline.

October Poetry

The moon is bathing the lake with its light

Chilled and still and reflected bright.

Suspended so high

Sigh!

I should be sailing tonight.

 

My vessel she rests in her silent slip

At her helm I captain a mighty ship.

Sound is her hull

Scull?

Too short a trip.

 

Sails the breeze makes flutter and shake

Something within me likewise my muscles make.

Quiet and weak yet I still

Seek…

I should be on my vessel making a wake.

 

Quiet

The wind was light, so light the leaves could not be heard rustling and the flags waved limply from their steady staffs. The docks were quiet. Only one other crew was on deck in a marina filled with nearly a hundred thirty other sailboats. It was a Monday night so the absence of sailors after a full weekend was not unusual. The exception tonight was the boat club meeting at the top of the hill. Not even a quorum showed for that. The water was near still. There were some ripples from the breeze. They were small. Even the fish would make more of a stir.

It was five weeks since I last sailed Lifeline, the longest sailing drought of any year since we became partners on the water. It was three weeks after Bay Week on Lake Erie before I got her back in the water, and that was two weeks ago. I was anxious and frustrated; lacking focus in most things, I did, fighting for sleep every night. Life was keeping me busier than I had been in years. This night I was putting it all aside. I was going sailing.

The night was a significant choice because the moon would be full, the third ‘super moon’ of the summer. The light of the night rose through the tree branches shedding an amber glow on the remaining leaves. Clouds that earlier would have blocked the light were now positioned to reflect it even as their counterparts in the west glowed with the setting amber of the sun. For a moment… only for a moment… the sky was completely glowing.

It had been five weeks so I was taking my time with the preparations. I was avoiding the ‘hurry’ of a racing night and lacking the urgency of having a class start within a short time. I could take my time. The moon would be waiting. The wind was holding, if not rising still. I folded the sail cover and laid it in the cabin instead of throwing it down. I took an extra pause to firmly tug on the knots in the lines. The main halyard fouled around the mast.   It required attention. I had two lines, neither long enough to untangle the halyard alone. I slowly, deliberately tied a sheet bend, tossed one end over the starboard spreader, and watched it fall down the other side. The halyard, properly rigged, now running free.

Norris and Kyoko were the other crew out. They helped me get under way. The motor ran well for having been quiet itself for so many weeks. Another boat was coming in. The noise of both motors held us to hand signals. The channel opened up before me. Lights were already blinking ‘out there’. Another sailboat, some fishermen as well, and two power cruisers coming in slowly. I put Lifeline into the wind and hauled up the sails. I let the wind take her as I turned off the motor and pulled it from the water.

Quiet.

If there is a dream that is sailing where the wind gently pushes the boat onto a heel and the boat gives the balanced response of hugging the wind, this was the how the rest of the evening passed. Lifeline fell off to port and I trimmed up the lines as I felt for the wind. I let my hands, my arms, and my face seek the same embrace as the boat had felt. Once I was in the wind’s arms, I brought the boat over to nestle in on the opposite tack. The moon seemed to be breathing the wind down onto Alum Creek. Lifeline and I settled in for an intoxicating visit.