Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last Sail of the Year - A great one!

My girlfriend and I took out the Montgomery 17 for a nice daysail the other day, 12/30/11. We drove the short 45 min trip to Lake Eufaula, our local lake to spend this rather warm 70 degree day in late December. I had been wanting to take the boat out before the real cold set in so that I could check out a couple of things like:
-Run the new Mercury 5hp outboard I bought
-Lower the daggerboard since it was jammed the last time out which was also the first time
-Practice reefing
-Observe the running rigging and see how the system could be improved
-How much my girlfriend liked or didn't like sailing on a 17'er rather than my old 29'er

Overall the day was GREAT!

When we first arrived at the boat landing around noon there were two other vehicles with trailers at the ramp that had already put in with their powerboats. We immediately got to work stepping the mast and rigging the boat up. My girlfriend, Ashley, had never been out on a trailerable sailboat before so she was slightly disappointed when she found out all that we had to do before we actually set off. Everything went off without a hitch in about 25 min, I had only rigged this boat once several months earlier and the cables were somewhat tangled from moving the mast around when I was working on the boat. Without much trouble we were ready to put the boat in the water.

I let Ashley back the boat down the ramp, giving her instruction on which way to turn the wheel as the truck and trailer "snaked" down the ramp. I hopped in the boat and fired the new 5h Mercury Extra-long Shaft right up. Ashley parked the truck as I motored around waiting to pick her up at the dock when she came back down. Once she was aboard as I was throttling away from the dock the motor quit. I immediately started trying to crank her back up since the wind was slowly pushing us towards a seawall. It would crank every few pulls for a couple seconds before dying again and again. As we got closer to the seawall I had to leave the motor to fend us off. Thankfully the Montgomery 17 is easier to handle than my old Watkins 29 and I was able to "walk" us down the seawall about 15' to the end and tie off to a pylon where the wind kept up stead on the other side. After a couple of minutes fiddling with the engine and blaming Ashley's father (who is a boat/outboard engine mechanic that I bought the motor through)for the trouble I noticed that I hadn't turn the fuel on for the internal tank since I wasn't using an external tank for this short daysail. We had a good laugh, I turned the fuel on and we quietly motored out into the lake with our great little 4-stroke.

I raised the sails and we were off, cruising along in the 5-15 knot winds the rest of the day.

The outboard, being a extra long shaft, still had the prop a little bit in the water causing some drag I'm sure. I couldn't figure out at the time how to raise the motor but I am told by Ashley's father that it should be simple and not a problem to do so. So I will figure it out before I head out next time.

I lowered the centerboard and noticed water coming through the hole I had to drill in the top of the trunk in order to get a bar onto the top of the centerboard to pound it out of it's jammed trunk. I quickly raised the board back up and the water stopped coming into the cabin. This is something that definitely needs fixing!

I hove to for the first time on the M17 to see how well it sat. It did a great job holding itself fairly still slowly drifting downwind and slightly forward. I took this time to join Ashley down below for a quick drink and a snack.

The next thing I wanted to do was to try putting in a reef, which went well but I noticed a few things were missing. There is no topping lift or boomkicker so when I released the main halyard the boom landed in the cockpit. Also, there were no lines in the clew of the sail to hold it down so I just tied a quick line around the boom through the reefing point. Everthing else was good so I shook the reef out taking mental notes of the problems.

At some point in the day I noticed what appeared to be two sailboats heading our way on a close hauled course. Immediatly I got pretty excited and told Ashley who was down below to come check them out. I also announced in a captain like manner that we were changing course heading for the other sailboats to say hello! About a minute later after I studied the two sailboats I noticed that they were actually pilings that marked a channel that extended out into the middle of the lake to the main channel. I was laughed at and slightly embarrased at my reaction to the other "sailboats".

Not sure, but this is probably me when I noticed the "sailboats" off in the distance....

Ashley really enjoyed the day but she did get a little nervous when the boat would heel over in the gusts. That is pretty typical, but I am sure she will get more and more used to it.

The rest of the day was wonderful as we cruised along enjoy the beautiful creations that the Lord has given us to enjoy and take care of. We arrived back at the boat landing at about dusk. Taking the mast and rigging down was much quicker than going up and we were soon on our way back home.

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