18 October 2008

Dad n Daughter Sailing

Tonight I took my daughter, #3, out sailing. I hadn't sailed in the past few weeks because of an unseasonably early snow, a trip out of town, and ridiculously cold weather recently.

I always look forward to spending time with one of my kids one-on-one. With 6 kids, that chance doesn't come up very often! We arrived at the marina with an hour and a half of daylight left. It only took about 5 minutes from the time we stepped out of the car to the time we were backing out of our slip.

#3 took the helm and eased us past the other sailboats and docks out toward the lake. The water level has dropped substantially in the last 2 months, we're certainly ready for more snow in the mountains this winter to bring our lake levels up. We usually raise the swing keel just 25 turns of the winch, which is plenty of clearance to make it in and out of the marina without running aground.

I had gone below to find the genoa, when I heard #3 call from the cockpit, "Uh Dad? The bow is sinking!" I ran up to the cockpit to see what the problem was. Sure enough, the bow was nosing down towards the water. And the shore wasn't moving. We had run aground!

She cut the throttle back on the motor, which immediately stopped the boat from diving, and I raised the keel another 3 turns. Underway and off to see the world again.

As we left the marina, there were several kids standing on the break water throwing rocks at some object in the water. My #3 and I decided it would be funny if I hid down below while she stood alone in the cockpit, giving the impression to onlookers that an 11 year girl was sailing the 25 foot sailboat alone. There were no other boats in the channel, so I ducked out of sight down below. As we passed, the rock-throwing went noticeable silent as the kids all stopped to stare at this seafaringly intrepid young woman.

Past the outer channel markers, and up with the sails. There were 3 other sailboats on the lake tonight, slipping quietly along in the light air and slowly setting sun. With the genoa raised, we maxed out at about 3 knots. In the cool fall air, and with no where to go, that was all the speed we needed.

We talked about the play she was trying out for, school, friends, and why we liked sailing. We also talked about what she would do if I fell overboard - how to stop the boat under sail or under power - and how to rescue someone.

The evening was so quiet, we could hear spoken conversations on the other sailboats over a mile away. With the water getting closer by the day to the winter freeze-over, there weren't very many power boats on the lake. Just a few fishermen, and miles and miles of quiet water.

We saw an object floating in the water about a half mile away, and decided to sail over and see what it was. Dropping from a broad reach to a run, our speed dropped to 1 knot, but we were in no hurry. There was just enough wind to lightly fill the sails. The object turned out to be a mylar balloon with the words "Get Well" printed on the sides. We hoped that the person being wished well wasn't tied to the balloon's string, which dangled down into the lake...

On the way back we passed Todd Frye's boat. If I'd brought my good camera, we'd have taken a fantastic shot of her. However with only my cell phone camera, this was the best picture I could get, sorry Todd :) Todd offers the only sailing school on the lake, the Bonneville School of Sailing & Seamanship.

Time to drop sails and motor back in. The other kids were calling, anxious to watch the Indiana Jones movie which was now out on DVD.

A very peaceful night sailing, and a great night with my #3.

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