Index of Articles in Frank's Corner of Sailing Texas
Short Story by Frank Perras
Clarksville Texas - A Short Sailing Story.
After our first day of no wind and roasting on the lake we spent a lot of time swimming and were treated to about an hour of light wind just enough to tease our expectations and whet our appetite for more before we gave it up as a lost cause.
Having a long mental debate for another day of roasting, the weather reported possible storms and winds of about 15 miles so about noon my desire to sail over whelmed my 64 year old common sense and my grandson and I grabbed the trailer and headed for the lake.
We knew it was going to be a good day as we set about stepping the mast and getting things rigged so all we had to do was hoist the sails once we were clear of the ramp. Not all good plans have a way coming true. I instructed my grandson to head up wind so I could raise the main all was going great till the darn wire halyard got jammed and we started heading for shore realizing we needed to get some forward motion going I ran the jib up and we corrected our course and began to make headway while I spent some time figuring out what was wrong with the main halyard, in my haste from the day before re-routing
those twisted halyards I failed to noticed I had wound the jib halyard around the main halyard. Which is what jammed it up.
Sailing with just the jib and not noticing my grandson was allowing the boat to go downwind we headed for the narrow end of the lake some 3,000 feet away.
While I struggled to remove the main halyard from the drum and straighten out the twisted wire mess I made, we found ourselves in a real challenge of getting back up wind from the narrow end of the lake so I wrapped the wire halyard around the base of the mast so I would not lose it up the mast,
I could see we were going to shore faster than we could sail out so I abandoned all attempts to fix the main which we sorely needed. Using the jib to make headway all the while the wind was blowing buckets of rain water sideways, (I had failed to see it was raining), and we were tacking under adverse conditions with the main rumpled up on the cockpit floor and the boom and sails handicapping the space we needed to steer. My grandson was doing a marvelous job of following my barking orders of do this and do that as we got closer and closer to the tall grass near the shore line. If it had not been for all the rain we had this last year we would have already been grounded where only a laughing power boater would have joyfully pulled us out of there had there been one there.
After about an hour of making short tacks and using the paddle to help in coming about along with some jibing, because the boat would not tack, we begin to make some headway. We could look up wind to the south end of the lake and we swore the water there looked calm and dry which made me ask if this was some sort of a test after having not sailed for 25 years or so.
Once I was able to see we had overcome a potentially hazardous condition, I was feeling a little more confident that we were not going to have to walk thru about a mile of heavy growth of woods and bushes to make our way to the truck so we could go get help. Eventually we made our way back to the ramp and of course the weather was good by that time.
We pulled into the ramp and set about fixing the mess we had. I looked at my grandson when I was done and said well, what do you want to do, hey gramps let's go. Again we head up wind and I am able to get the main up, raise the jib, and from this point forward we had outstanding sailing conditions running the gunnels down to the water and showing off for those few people driving around the lake where the site of a sailboat is about as common as fenders skirts on a 56 Chevy.
My grandson learned a few things about sailing and one of those was never to abandon your post whether it be the tiller or a sheet line all for the sake of climbing to higher ground. We were fortunate our mistakes did not result in capsizing the boat on a number of occasions as well as a couple of not so controlled but accidental gybes. He figured out how to use the tiller and sheets lines to control the boat and stay on course when the wind heels you over, his first attempt was really pretty good (he is 15) but I am sure a drunken sailor walks a straighter course.
The rest of the afternoon was sailing a close hauled course back and forth and running down wind for a short ways I really wanted to hoist the spinnaker, but fear kept me from getting to close to the north end because I knew it was raining and the wind was howling in that place we worked so hard to get out of. After we decided we had enough for the day we sailed back to the ramp and lowered the main and used the jib for the short distance to the ramp. We took a few calm moments to remove the main and stuff things in a bag and remove the boom so all we have to do is drop to head sail. We put the boat on the trailer and pull her out and begin taking things down when the wife shows up. After expressing her concern about whether we were going ashore at the north end or if she should have gone for help, we say oh was there a problem, giggle giggle we were doing just fine in our panic to stay afloat.
Not bad all in all.
If it's there lets go.
Frank Perras firstname.lastname@example.org
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