I raised my wind meter while standing on Cindy and Paul’s dock. The white Styrofoam ball hovered between 8 to 9 MPH. Not sure if I should cast off. There was a nice ripple on the water, but the situation is difference down stream where the creek  widens. Wind out of the north means an easy trip to the bay, but not so easy returning. Tacking in the narrow section of the creek is difficult. I decided not to sail on the weather report that said wind shifting to the east in the afternoon.

I left the dock in the early afternoon for another trip up and down the creek. I raised the sail and was underway immediately. I soon learned that I I forgot to lower the centerboard. The boat glided off course.

I encountered stronger wind when I entered a wider section. The boom is too low and as I changed sides, I had to duck every time I came about. To change direction, I have to do three things simultaneously. Shift from port to starboard or the opposite side, duck, tighten the sheet, and turn the tiller. This is the point where my boat is out of my control. I have to hurry to maintain control. The tiller is long. As I shift , my life jacket catches the sheet and tiller and I struggle to untangle.

Wind is always variable. Gusts luff the sail. I drifted and banged into pilings and bulkheads when the wind died. I fumbled, pushed off with the paddle I struggled, shifting back and forth, ducking, adjusting sheet and tiller. I thought sailing was supposed to be fun

I came about at the Babylon Public Dock and proceeded fast, slow, backwards, and becalmed. I still have not mastered my sailing skills. I managed to reach the narrows after many tacks. I finally decided to lower the sail and row to the slip.

I felt like had just finished an intensive gym workout. Dry land and safety at last. I experienced “nosing up” several times. This happens when I don’t have enough momentum and try to come about. I turn hard and the boat doesn’t respond. The bow keeps going in the unintended direction. I am turning away from the way I want to go.. Then, holding my breath, slowly, the bow turns to way I want. I find a place where I can get more speed. As I sail, I think about a coming hurricane, and three huge boats coming my way.

 

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.

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