Sunday, December 14, 2008

Macha's Haulout

We just hauled Macha out at Berkeley. Getting new bottom paint (while we're at it) and shuffling around cockpit layout. (Adding coaming boards, moving jib winches and traveller, maybe adding purchase to the mainsheet so Sarah can deal with the mainsail singlehanded while I'm pulling up the anchor, etc.)

We had a GREAT sail from Alameda to Berkeley. It was like the old saying, "an instant sensation years in the making." This time of year there is basically no predictable wind. So we watched the weather for days, fretted, planned, and when we left the dock brought enough food for an overnight.

We drove to the Berkeley Marina for a scouting mission, and were about to call the whole thing off. Their guys hadn't made room for our boat. There wasn't any room at the fuel or guest docks. The only guy working didn't want to go outside and shuffle powerboats in the pissing rain. Eventually we persuaded him to get to it, and he warped parked boats to make us a nice, big parking spot.

We had a great crew: our friend Bradley who is the most enthusiastic and useful guy you could hope to have on a boat. And our friends Craig and Evvy. They sail a "mostly engineless" Gemini 105 catamaran. The diesel died, and they use a 1.5 HP electric outboard hanging off the back to maneuver around their marina. More on that some other times; we've learned a ton sailing with them. In any case, many (competent) hands make light work.

In the end, it all worked out effortlessly and we got there in two hours. The mini-storm we'd been watching roll in gave us perfect SouthEast wind. For the first time in our lives, we broad reached UP the Estuary and into the bay. With the full moon, our dock experienced a nine foot tidal range the day before, so in addition to the favourable wind, we were being sucked into open water by an ebb that maxed at 2 knots. Damn. Once out into the bay, we were doing 6.8 knots over ground (hull-speed?) with jib, staysail, full main, and topsail in 10-15 knots of true wind.

Rather than short-tacking for hours, we made it to the Berkeley Pier on port tack the whole way. Once out there, it was SO tempting to go out and sail. But since it was 2pm in the afternoon, with sunset at 4:30pm and uncertain wind, we figured it was best to stay focussed on our goal of delivering the boat from point A to point B.

We jibed smartly and headed through the hole in the Berkeley sea wall. With so many crew, everyone had a job... Sarah steered. Bradley and I dropped the main while we coasted beam to the wind towards the guest dock. Once it was down, we moved to the rail to man the dock and spring lines. Evvy dropped the headsails for final bare-poles approach. Craig got on bow-line. Our approach was dead on in terms of speed and angle. We had a brief foul up with the midships spring line, but with so many big guys we were able to grunt Macha to a halt by grabbing her stays.

It was still cold and raining, so we fired up the diesel fireplace, drank ale and rum-spiked-tea and played poker while we warmed up and dried out. Suitably fortified, we ventured above deck to put away the sails and lines and retract the bowsprit.

The next morning, the boatyard guys pushed, warped, fended Macha through the crowded Marina. Like ballroom dancing with a 16 ton partner. Hehe. I asked them if it was a headache that Macha's engineless. "Ah no, we never use the customers inboards. This space is way too tight!" Lurking in that offhand comment is some profound wisdom: So engines are unecessary in open water, and unecessary (according to the pros) in confined marinas. So where are they necessary?

(Now, if the wind had died halfway I guess I'd be singing a different tune.)

All in all, short but sweet intro to winter sailing engineless style. Good crew and good weather planning (and weather luck) made it an amazing day...

Next steps: we gave notice at our old Marina, so when our cockpit work is done in January we'll be moving aboard at our new marina. I'm sure it will be a big adjustment, but the time seems right...

- Ari

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