So Friday's tuna fishing turned out to be a bust. The bay was deceptively calm and once across the bar in the, "Amanda," the sea turned out to be a little rough for putting a hook in the water.
Amanda is my partner Stan Jefferies' (the seaplane guy) sailboat. The boat doubles as his office and hideout on the Coos Bay Boardwalk. Amanda is a 33-foot Alajuela with a 27 hp diesel.
As we crossed the bar, Stan put the 135 Genoa sail "all out" which gave the ship some stability in rough water. Normally you want to make 4-5 knots (or more) in a sailboat but this day we were hoping to slow to less than 2 knots for fishing. Getting away from shore, visibility declined with low lying fog. Between our speed, 6 foot swells, and declining visibility we decided the tuna gods were against us. We should have taken a cue from the sailboat that was returning when we crossed the bar heading out.
I am new to the ocean so losing sight of land isn't a great feeling yet. I am doing well dealing with motion sickness medication, avoiding the smell of diesel (which makes me sick on land) and the fact there are survival suits on board. Bouncing around with water splashing up in my face may have resulted in a look that told the captain to turn back.
Since our tuna fishing turned out to be a bust, Stan decided I needed a sailing lesson. Our friend George Dorius, met us at the dock for sailing up the bay Saturday, a perfect day for my first lesson.
On the way out I learned what a "tell tail" was. It's actually little strings on the inside and outside of a sail that you watch to see what the wind is doing on either side of the sail. Those tails and the wind vane on the top of the mast are important for reading the direction of the wind. The plan, keep the bow of the boat pointed in the direction of the wind with the sail open to create a pocket, for pulling the sailboat along, using ropes and the tiller.
I watched the guys pull lines on either side of the Genoa as the direction of the wind changed. As you know the wind can be unpredictable and it made the boat a little squirrely.
Sailing, as it turns out, is no time for courteous conversation. George told me that there was some yelling and not to be put off by it, it was part of sailing. So when the side of the boat got somewhere near 20 degrees over on it's side there was a little yelling. Sailing terms were being thrown about and I had to remind the captain I didn't know what some of that jargon meant.
At one point I was assigned the tiller to keep the nose into the wind. No easy task if you are timid about it. It seems there is a lot of correcting and you can get pushed around really quickly. When I say around I mean literally. At one point we did an unplanned 360 degree turn. Coffee grounds ended up all over the galley and the head. Thankfully no glass.
On the way back George gave me the lines to one side of the sail. I did my part without much ado — no rope burns or fingers pinched in the lines. I had on some rather smart gloves to protect my already calloused hands. They were loose enough I could have slipped out of them if needed.
On the return we tacked (zig-zagged) up the bay. The main sail was about 2/3 up to add some stability after the coffee-pot turn. Our tack had us aimed directly at a very large ship docked at the chip pile, the dock at the casino and at another very large vessel. At one point the Captain Louie tugboat pushing a barge went in front of us and then around us after it docked the barge.
We made it back with no more 20 degree events or turns. All in all my sailing 101 was a success and I will definitely try it again.