A friend of mine rigged a canoe for sailing and wanted me to give him some sailing tips, and with a new sailboat myself (kind of like a giant canoe), I thought it would be a great opportunity to get together for an adventure. When the dates were set, little did I know that last Friday and Saturday would have some serious wind. On Thursday night we met. Joe had driven in from Northern Jersey, and I drove to Geneva NY from Honeoye Falls, about an hour with the trailer on my Pontiac Vibe (It pulls the SP easily). The destination was my Dad's cottage on the west side of the lake.
About five o'clock Friday morning, I woke to the gusts that built in the next couple of hours. The wind was from the south, and it was strong. By the time we drove down to Seneca Lake State Park Marina, the lake looked to rough for sailing on a boat I had zero experience on, not to mention a canoe with an untested rig.
We launched the SP anyway, because I wanted to get a feel for what motoring on it was like. It has a Suzuki 2 that looks like I'll never have to worry about getting it stolen, but it runs well, and I was impressed how it moved the boat at almost 6 knots up the Seneca-Cayuga (part of the Erie Barge Canal system) canal. I hadn't put the masts up, and I was wishing I had brought fishing poles, but the goal was to sail, and it was just too rough on the lake. So once I was satisfied with the motor, I put the boat back on the trailer, and Joe and I left his car and canoe at the park, and traveled down the east side of the lake, hoping that maybe it would be calmer at Watkins Glen, or less waves anyway.
We got side tracked by a couple of Wineries and lunch, but by 3:30 or so it was with some trepidation we launched the boat at the public launch in Watkins Glen. It's a really steep ramp with a four dollar fee, so I left a five dollar Canadian bill in the box that was left over from m trip to Canada to buy it. I had filled the water ballast in Geneva for practice (that sure is simple) and so Joe did the same while I parked the car. We motored away from the ramp all rigged. One thing about the little triangle of sail still up when the sails are furled is that little bit of wind-age is significant in 25+ wind. We got out though, and once clear I put the Mizzen out with 2 turns left on the mast, and it's true, when I sheeted it down, the boat pointed right into the wind. I learned the next day that this seems to work a lot better with less waves, but it really is a nice feature to this boat. Did I mention I could hardly launch without multiple people telling me what a neat boat it was.
I unfurled the main (with three turns of reef) and let Joe take the helm as I worked the main. The gusts were quite impressive. We saw 30 foot boats with tiny jibs and seriously reefed mains healed right on their ears, and I was wondering if this was such a good idea. But after awhile, it became quite clear that with proper caution, the SP can handle a lot of weather. I eventually kicked Joe out of the helm seat, and took over. I have three small kids, and I wanted to make sure I could handle it myself. Although there were a few moments when gusts would almost overwhelm us, all in all it was a nice ride, not the white knuckle affair I was expecting. We eventually shook one rotation out of the main, and had some serious fun. When it was near dusk, we finally pulled the boat out of the water. A crowd of people gathered around to admire the boat and our sailing skills (apparently they didn't see us swamp the aft cockpit twice totally from inattention), and I was gushing at how user friendly the boat is, as it was my first sail on it.
We beat it back to Geneva for a late dinner and turned in by 11:00, just beat from the stress and exhilaration from that sail. I had forgotten my GPS and never did get a speed reading, so Saturday we were going to sail again. As it turns out, Saturday we had even more wind, and it was coming from the west. We went to Seneca Lake State Park Marina.
Joe was determined to sail his canoe, so he spent time rigging it while I launched the SP. It took me about 20 minutes, but that was by myself, and I think with a few modifications to some of the trailer gear, it could be even less. The best thing was that it takes very little effort to rig. Normally in other small boats I've owned, I'd be half worn out and stressed just launching. The Suzuki kicker only has start in gear, luckily it starts good, and I was over to Joe at the marina without incident by myself.
I thought he was nuts to launch, but away we went. I towed him over towards Geneva where there was les waves. The picture is of him sailing. There was serious gusts. I was sure that he would swamp it, but he zipped all around. This guy doesn't come across as having brass ones, but here is proof. Eventually we headed back to the marina, and took the canoe out of the water. I took a lot of teasing from some of the sailors that I had only put up the mizzen, but I noticed none of them were out. So Joe and I headed back out on the Wild Cat (more on the name later).
We shot across the lake from the canal to Geneva-on-the-lake. We just couldn't get it to 8 knots on the way back, but we were close. I think if the lake wasn't so rough, we might have gotten it. I realized loading the car that in the pursuit of luxury or safety in other boats, I had given up a lot of thrills. I think she's a good compromise.
I towed here home tired but happy.
Sunday the wind died, but I took Helen to Conesus Lake, and we floated around or awhile, and then had a little breeze for an hour or so, enough to get Helen a feel for her, but a little anti-climactic after the previous two days.
In short, I love this boat. I am taking Helen this weekend to Sodus bay for a weekend of sailing. She is very excited. I've got all of our gear packed except for our food, but we'll head out tomorrow morning at dusk.
Sodus Bay - Helen and my excellent adventure.
Sodus bay is a decent sized bay off Lake Ontario between Rochester and Syracuse NY. It's fairly protected, and big enough to seem like big water to a 9 year old. We launched on Saturday morning at the South end of the bay at a little fishing shop with a seriously steep ramp and some pretty mucky water. The wind was out of the south as we launched the boat. Dad had forgot our food bin, but luckily I have a MasterCard, so we would just have to wing it. after motoring away from the ramp, we put the sails up with winged out main and mizzen, and made good progress for a mile or so. The wind switched 180 degrees in about five minutes and got really strong. Heading the advice of the Sea Pearl forum, I furled early and was ready. We had to beat the entire way up the bay. The sails were furled down to cart table size and we were still making 4 knots, and getting a good bit of spray, but slow progress north. Sail shape suffers a bit, and pointing isn't the greatest, but we took our time and worked our way windward a little at a time, until we got to Sodus point.
We stopped at a nice spot for lunch, whose name escapes me right now, but the bartender told me we could leave the Wild Cat there for the night, and recommended the Sodus Point Charter Lodge for the evening to stay. It was a good tip as it was clean and quiet, but the tourist season is over. We went out sailing again, and watched a courageous guy flip a Sunfish over right in front of us. By the time we furled to help him, he was up again.
On Sunday we had a giant breakfast and heard that Sodus bay yacht club has a Sunday morning race, so we packed up and headed out to watch the committee boat set the course, and watch the boats motor out and prepare for the race.
We stayed clear and watched the race, while zooming around in fresh morning breezes. It was a perfect day of sailing. Here is a video I shot:
This site was last updated 12/16/08