Windsong's first sail, FLAWLESS!

As you can tell by the post title, things went well this weekend On Saturday I wen't out to Inglis to see Windsong. I had three friends in tow and a list of things to accomplish. First off was to give the engine its oil change. I had replaced a few parts on the oil change pump and got it pumping water in a test run. But once we got to the boat the pump wouldn't suck out any oil and eventually burnt out. So now instead of repairing this thing I am going with advice of some other boat owners (readers of this blog, thanks!) and get a manual pump. So the oil change didn't happen, but that didn't stop us for the day. I also replaced the hose on the Whale Gusher manual bilge pump and was able to use it successfully for the first time. I love knowing that it works now, great sense of security especially since my primary electric bilge pump is still on the fritz. After the bilge pump we had to secure a leak on a water hose on the engine, then we were done with the needed chores of the day.

I had planned on taking her out and about in the river for the day, but with the encouragement of my friends and the weather cooperating we decided to take the trip out of the channel and hoist some sail. I was nervous because I still haven't upgraded a lot of the safety things (flares, fire extiguishers, etc.) that I wanted before we went out of the river, and the engine still makes me nervous, but we were feeling whimsical and went for it anyways.

First off we had to turn the boat around in its narrow channel. We were able to to this using warps and a little knowledge from the PO, and now I have the confidence to be able to do this when we need! With the boat turned around and the engine warmed up we headed up the river.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Temperatures in the low-mid 70's, winds 10-15 knots from the West and the skies were completely clear. I figured that if things went bad, we could probably sail the entire way back up the river since the winds were pushing us back in.

The ride up the river was uneventful, but serene and pretty. As we eventually passed the spot we broke down previously, a sense of confidence came about me as the engine remained in good pressure and temperature ranges and seemed to be trucking along perfectly. As we neared the river entrance I was became pretty nervous again at the prospect of going into open water. After we passed the inlet my confidence was rising and we navigated the 2 miles or so of channel markings to the green marker #1. At that marker we would be in deep enough water to go North or South on a sweet beam reach. Once we hit #1 the excitement was palatable as I instructed the crew on how to hoist and trim the sails. We lifted them up, turned North, shut off the engine and had our first moment of peace under sail with Windsong.

I could probably spend quite some time here describing the feeling of finally sailing with my boat. It has been a rough 5 months of ownership, barely having any fun time at all on the boat. I had little confidence in anything on it, and needed a successful ride to wash some of that away. Seeing the sails full, the rigging holding tight, and the wake behind us as we made a good 5.5-6 knots (we only have the gps to tell us speed) made so many fears go away. After trimming the sails and getting everything correctly situated, we ran North on a beam reach for about 2 miles before successfully tacking South for another few miles. The feeling was intense as we all cracked open celebratory beers and took in the amazing weather and feeling of the silent (no engine) ride.

Windsong sailed incredibly on the beam reach, as I expected her to. I was pretty impressed to find out how balanced she was with all of the sails up, barely needing to steer at all to keep her on course. She was moving perfectly, and the weather was so brilliant that I considered going South for the whole day and night to get to Tarpon Springs and leave her there. But the journey will have to wait as we didn't have enough beer (or food) to last the trip.

After a while going South we tacked around again and started to aim towards the shore. We needed to get back in before the tide was too low and things got too shallow. We were able to run downwind on sail alone for most of the way back in the channel, but once the channel started to twist and turn we had to fire up the engine. We motorsailed all the way in the channel and a little bit into the river before we lowered all canvas and stowed the sails. Motoring back to the dock was pleasant, and we were able to dock and turn the boat around with ease.

Overall I could not have asked for a better first sail on my boat. The anticipation leading up to this was intense. I had mentally prepared for months for the day we took it out, and in the end everything went perfectly smooth. The only issue arising from the day is when I checked the engine over before we left and I noticed that the packing nut on the shaft seal was dripping frequently again. I tried to tighten it but it proved difficult without undoing the locking nut, something that has eluded me before. So I need to go up there this weekend and try to get that locking nut loose so I can tighten the packing nut. The unit as a whole needs servicing, particularly new packing in the nut. I'm not sure I have the confidence to do that myself just yet, but maybe if it is necessary I'll figure it out. With that fixed, the oil changed, safety items purchased, and some backup electronics...I can take Windsong down the coast to be hauled out for her re-build...and I will be very very very happy.

Here are the pictures from Saturday:

The yellow line is the route we took, for those truly interested it is from Chart #11408

View from the dock:

Do I look nervous?

Other boats along the river:

Taking a break from the helm to enjoy the deck

View of the power plant from the river

lol no worries here, can't go that fast.

Bad things have happened here...

I call this little beach the Redneck Riviera. It is usually packed with Florida's finest on weekends.

At the end of the river, beginning of the journey out to sea

First moments out of the river

Becoming a happy Cap'n

Beautiful on the water...

The smog around the power plants really stands out when you are at sea

Approaching marker #1. STOKED!!!!!

Shortly after....SAILS FULL!

So balanced, barely a need to steer

Taking it all in

Motorsailing back to the dock