Thursday, October 17, 2013
ELECTRIC SAILING: A Columbus Day Voyage Part One
It had been blowing hard for the past four days with gusts to near Gale force. Small craft warnings had be issued daily but, finally things calmed down enough by Monday which was the Columbus Day holiday here in the states. It seemed appropriate that I should start my last cruise of the season on Columbus Day named after a fellow sailor in the 1400's. Though my planned twenty mile voyage was not as daring as his.
I set my alarm for 4:30 AM. The flood current had been flowing west into Long Island Sound since a little after two that morning and I wanted to ride a few hours of it to get past Old Field Point before the current turned against my progress. I had hope to drop the lines off of the mooring by 5 AM after having some coffee and a muffin as usual to start the day and become fully awake. Since I'm not working full time most of these days I tend wake up naturally. But, waking up to the alarm is different. There is nothing natural or normal waking with an alarm. I remember having a discussion with a co worker a few years ago. He was a Marine in Vietnam and he said when you get woken out of a deep sleep in takes about 25 minutes to become fully awake. I believe that. So the night before I tried to have everything ready and available when I woke up. Since I would be alone I could not just ask somebody to go below and bring up what I needed I'd have to leave the helm and do it myself. I wanted to avoid that in the early morning darkness if I could.
I gassed up the Honda generator in case I would be doing a lot of motor sailing in the expected light winds. I put the dingy on the deck so and uncovered the sail so all that I would have to do is untie the sail ties and hookup up the main halyard. Everything seemed to be set. Finally I put the things I wanted and needed to have in the cockpit on the steps so I would remember them in the morning while in my wake up haze. I assembled the following: Handheld VHF, Eldridge Tide & Pilot Book, Binoculars, sunglasses, Chart Book, Winch handle. Thought that was everything I would need.
At 4:30AM the alarm went off and I got up made my coffee listened to the weather forecast which called for light winds five to ten knots out of the east to start. The direction was fine since I was heading west but, I would have liked a little more wind speed. But, I had several hours of favoring current so I needed to get out into the Sound as soon as possible.
I dropped the mooring lines at 5:16 AM sixteen minutes later than I planed but, still not bad. I had not sailed at night in a few years and forgot how dark it can be:
I was also thinking that my night vision might not be as good as it use to be. I headed for the harbor entrance which was considerably narrower after Hurricane Sandy pounded the area. I had to make a sharp turn around a shoal before heading out to Long Island Sound. As I approached I suddenly could hear waves crashing on the nearby shore but, could not see the shore or the shoal in the darkness. It was then I realized I had forgotten to bring up the battery powered searchlight with the other items I assembled the night before. Luckily I keep the light nearby on the chart table and was able to grab it in time and use it to maneuver through the tight passage and head out into the Sound.
Posted by Capt. Mike at 1:08 PM