16 May 2008

Midnight Sail on Utah Lake

Friday night I set out with #2 and #5 for an overnight sail on Utah Lake. The winds were 10-15 knots, and the waves 3-4 feet. We left the Provo Marina around 8 pm and sailed southwest for a couple hours.

About half an hour after sunset, the moon rose. The night could not have been more beautiful. The lights on the shore faded to small specks as we headed further out. The moonlight shone across the tops of the waves, and the only sounds were the hull cutting through the waves and the occasional creaking of the tiller.

Our destination was Bird Island, a sometimes-visible rocky outcropping several miles south southwest of the Provo Marina. Our intent was to spend the night at anchor near the island, however after being tossed by the waves for several hours, the crew voted to return to the sheltered waters of the harbor.

By about 2230 hrs, #5 and #2 came out of the cabin to join me in the cockpit. #5 was tired and getting cold, so he lay down on one of the cockpit benches and slept. #2 spent half an hour in the cabin and came down with a slight case of Mal de Meer. After a few minutes in the cockpit, he retired to the forward cabin to try and rest.

The winds picked up around this time, and I was enjoying the sailing so much that I decided I could easily sail until 2 or 3 in the morning without tiring. The steady winds, the occasional spray of waves crashing against the hull, and the moonlight accenting the waves were intoxicating.

We sailed on, waiting for the winds to subside at which point I would drop anchor and settle in for the night. But the winds didn't let up. The crew was resting quietly, so I thought I would simply drop anchor in the waves, and try spending the night out in the open. But I started to worry as I imagined myself going over the side while on deck trying to anchor. The sleeping crew would not wake up, and I'd be carp food by morning.

So I pulled #2 from the forward cabin to come watch the helm. He came aft, and we discussed the options. We ultimately decided to head back for the marina. #2 and #5 slept on the cockpit cushions, and I stood at the helm, watching the waves, listening to the wind, and enjoying the long sail home.

I love the feeling of coming off a windy sail and into the marina. The instant we come through the breakwater, the water is as smooth as glass. The only hint of the exciting conditions outside the marina is the distant sound of waves breaking outside the jettys.

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