30 December 2008

One More Best Day?

Is it OK to have two best days? Maybe it was the peace after motoring for an hour and a half. Maybe it was just the break from Christmastime frenzy. Or maybe it was the memories of pottering about Alamitos Bay with my young bride. Whichever, the first time in many years sailing alone with Kecia has to count as a best day. With the kids safely tucked away at Gung Gung and Po Po's, we ventured out into a strong flood tide aboard Lapras, and perhaps suffering from the need for some kind of year-end accomplishment, we set the goal of making it to the Carquinez Bridge and back. Wind and tide conspiring against us meant we would have to motor the three and three quarter nautical miles to pass below the new span. A nice little trek, actually, out past the old C&H suger plant, and the feeling of busting out of the Strait and kissing the waters of San Pablo Bay made it worth it, I guess. With the day wearing on, however, it was time to spin around and motor back up the Strait. Now with the current at our backs and the cold East wind at our faces, we made quick but very chilly time. "You know, we had better shut the motor down and unfurl the jib so that we can say we went sailing today," I said as we pulled abeam of Port Costa. 20 seconds later, the engine was off, jib unfurled, and peace was found.

As we approached Benicia Point the wind "built" to about four knots. Added to the nearly two knot flood we had enough wind for a gurgling wake. And that was it--not another sound on the Strait this chilly weekday day.

16 December 2008

Best Day

At last count, I'd sailed 30 days this year--a little better than once every two weeks. Now with just two weeks left in the year and waiting for a break in the rain to get out again, I'm thinking back on the best days sailing in 2008. It's been a good year, really, with great days on Mothra, Feraligatr (the Megabyte), Dean's Vanguard (Moe), Lappy the dory skiff, and the new Catalina 250, Lapras.

So, which was most memorable, most 'worthwhile'? Was it the racing? Bay Champs with Dean, winning my first regatta in almost 30 years, returning to the High Sierra Regatta after 20 something years? All great days in their own way, but not the best. No, the ones that make me tingle just thinking about them were just simple days out sailing with family and friends, the best of which came in my favorite time of year, late Summer. The return of Mothra was a turning point in the year reminding me that sailing with family is one of the greatest joys in life. Then a couple weeks later piling on three more to make seven might just have been the best of all days, certainly the most crowded. I called it perfect at the time. The weather was great, the scenery fun, and everybody had a good time. The best day in the Megabyte was also a day out with friends. Dean and I grew up with Mitch on the same street, but I can't remember if we'd ever sailed with him before. Well, we did this year, and is was a blast. Two in the Vanguard and one in the MB chasing each other all over the Carquinez Straight. Fun! Definitely the best video of the year.

But the best of all? Just a couple of weeks ago . . . one hour in the smallest boat with barely enough wind to push it . . . the eleven foot dory skiff that's been in the stable longer than any other--since I built her in 1997 . . . and my boy who a few weeks earlier, in tears, talked me into not selling her, at the helm. Iain has steered boats before, but this was the first time he really sailed one. He took the mainsheet in hand and trimmed the sail as naturally as he handles the tiller. Unlike previous times, he didn't want to give the controls back or turn back early.

He was sailing his boat.