Convergence, rain, flood tide and sloppy chop. The good news? The 10 to 15 knot northerly filled in well before racing started. All in all, an excellent day to get out!
October Sky was minus a team member, so the emergency calls went out, bat signal illuminated, the docks were scoured for likely suspects and two seconds worth of consideration were given to calling it a day. Persistence paid off, because about 15 minutes after the rest of the boats left the dock, newbie Frank Kaplan answered the call, arriving at the dock in full gear, split toe booties and a very stylish life jacket/nylon windbreaker combination. :)
Frank has had some 14 experience in the past, but we still tied the boat to the dock with the jib up and boom on in order to go through some quick ground school drills. Tacking drills... foot placement, leading with your fore foot on the way out, hand switch behind the back, fore hand straight to the trap handle. Gybing drills... nice and conservative skipper in first, nice big sheet on the kite, bring the lazy guy across with you as the crew crosses, forward hand to the trap handle. All the usual stuff. After 15 or so minutes of that we were ready to splash and get the main up. "Oh yeah Frank, in case we flip...." Brian and I always had a 5 flip rule when we started sailing together... it served us well. Were we really going to flip I thought to myself? Being a realistic optimist, I made mental preparations for at least 5 flips.
The boat was scooted to the south end of the dock, Frank jumped in and we were off. Headed slightly too far north, and with too much heel. No worries, I grabbed the trap line, Frank made an excellent gymnastic move and we scooped to windward just enough to get the bow down and miss the south end of the next pier. Excellent... Frank has some skills. Still heading west to the main channel and picking up speed, Frank was moving out on the trap as the main and jib came in. Excellent! Now for the first tack. Nice flat entry, not too powered up, not too close to the rocks... through head to wind... too fast, Frank not out (I could see the mental processing... hand back front foot forward... where the hell is the hook...) I grabbed the trap too late as we layed it down to leeward. Flip #1 complete, check. Boat back up, everybody in... boat in irons... crap. Drifting in to the rocks, Frank sacrificed his body for the boat and jumped in to fend off. Everybody back in... heading back out... and then down again. Flip #2 complete, check. Traffic was very patient as we righted the boat... boat flipped again... and again. Four flips, right? We were very courteous to let the boat drift to the rocks to let traffic by.
Frank is starting to pant now, and comes over the stern looking like like a meatball trapped in spaghetti. Those split toe booties really catch those lines well! Memory starts to get hazy here. Some memories of more flips, more panting on the breakwater. Kayakers offering assistance (should have said "sure" just for the fun of seeing what they possibly could have had in mind). Would have been a good time for a quick snack break, since we were standing around looking at the docks from the breakwater, but I did not have the foresight to bring any bars. I believe that we are past our 5 flip quota, but still not back to the dock. Feeling refreshed, Frank hopped in, I pushed off the rocks and we scooted across the channel to the crane dock, tipped the boat over on the dock, took stock of the situation and decided to swim more, but on another day. With the main down and off the boat, we sailed back under jib and put the program away for the night.
Frank, while appearing somewhat contemplative (dazed) about the experience, seems to have resigned himself for another try. Myself, I chalked it up as a wild success, having left no carbon on the rocks and all the equipment intact! I am sure now that Frank has made his first payment to the breakwater, he will at least make it to the fishing pier next time. I have not warned him about the flying crab-pots yet...
See you all next Thursday, and do not forget NOOD this month!