I got to the yacht club at 11:30 and banged off some work on the computer below before lunch. Jamie, my First Officer boarded in full motorcycle gear just as I finished lunch (roast beef sandwich, chips and a Beck’s (non-alcoholic) beer). We warmed up the 90 horsepower tractor diesel for about ten minutes, and, casting off, were into the outer harbor by 1:30 PM.
The wind was light by this time, 5 knots out of the SE, so we headed south (away from Toronto) until we’d shaken all the smaller boats and had the lake to ourselves. Up went the mizzen, as quickly as ever, the jib unfurled with some complaining, and the mains’l finally went up, first time this year and only the third time since I’ve owned Passat. I got a face full of dead spiders and wasps when the main finally shook itself out. A couple more degrees to starboard (west, at this point) and the sails filled, close hauled as she’d get.
We put the motor in neutral and idled it, then shut it off. Silence. A chuckle of water from the bluff bow, the wind in the rigging. We watched as the breeze freshened and the speed on the navigation iPad rose through 3 knots to 4 knots. The boat sails herself. She has hydraulic steering with no rudder feel, so she’s almost impossible to steer manually. Fortunately, she has an autohelm, which, in combination with the navigation software and GPS on the iPad makes sailing a kind of point and shoot exercise.You dial in the course, turn on the autohelm and go make tea below.
We saw wndsign ahead, and the breeze shifted to the south. We laid off the helm and took on a beam reach, all sails drawing. We watched the knotmeter on the iPad go through 3 knots to 4 knots and then, 5 knots. At this point, the chuckle at the bow had become a rush of water, and we were carving a straight wake thanks to the autohelm. We were heeling at about 10 degrees, a very stately ride. Passat is a 38 foot ketch-rigged motorsailer, with a wheelhouse. She doesn’t do fast. She’s very good at comfortable, though.
By now, I thought we’d had enough excitement for our first outing with all sails up this year. After all, the hull speed of the boat under sail is just 6 knots. I laid off the wind again (punched the “starboard 10 degrees” button twice) and Jamie let out the jib and the mains’l and mizzen. We slowed down to about 3 and a half knots again, but now headed back for Toronto, in a purposeful, steady way (I like broad reaches).
We came up into the wind, started the engine, idled it in forward and took down the sails. The jib furled like a dream, and the main and mizzen dropped with alacrity. This was almost too easy (you have to understand I’m a lazy sailor, and the bother of hoisting is what stops me from sailing more). Motoring back to the basin, we were lifted up by our success.
The landing was a good one, a bit tight, but no scratches to the gelcoat. After tying up, plugging in and putting the covers on the sails, we went below and kicked the air conditioner to life. Into the skillet went mushrooms and chopped onions with a pat of butter. On to the BBQ went a pair of marinated tenderloins.. Cooked potatoes and asparagus were added to the skillet. Tenderloin, meet fried mushrooms, Both of you, meet another Beck’s. Dinner was served in the wheelhouse.
This is the most fun I’ve had in one day on Passat since I bought her 4 years ago.
A cigar and coffee on the quarterdeck after dinner, and then Jamie left. I’m writing my memoirs here, and trying to remember when I last had such a good time.