I hadn’t been sailing for a while, fickle winds and autumnal seas giving a big thumbs down every time I thought about readying the boat for an outing. On the plus side this gave OB a chance to dry out thoroughly—the forward and after lockers both harboured damp from water that trickles in down the masts. Not a significant amount of water comes through the tight fittings, even in a capsize situation, but enough to maintain a permanent state of sogginess. On the down side I didn’t capitalize on the boat being dry to address the pending repairs. Lack of organization saw us back on the water without more epoxy on the skeg or reinforced scantlings for the thole pins and oars.
With a pleasant force two blowing over a flat sea I found OB’s sweet spot by juggling with the sheeting angles and adjusting course with the oars until, with the rudder raised, she sailed herself close hauled. One long push on the windward oar being sufficient to bring us about we sailed short tacks, for a couple of hours, to and fro, towards the horizon.
Comfortably reclining on the forward thwart, I drank a beer and ate a sandwich then, not having to attend to the tiller, fell to musing. I won’t detail the labyrinthine route that my brain took through varied topics, suffice it to say that along the way I briefly ruminated on the subject of the title of this post.
Just a few kilometres off-shore but a world away from the worries of the land time slowed as OB bore me over the water, her bow rising to each wave and her sails balanced and drawing.
Well on the way to Neverland it took an act of will power to raise the centerboard and sheet out the sail for our long run home. I didn’t lower the rudder but unshipped the mizzen instead and OB sailed herself dead down wind.
I watched the land as it crowded towards us and judging there to be no hazards in the form of unmanageable breaking waves let Onawind Blue sail herself up the beach.
On the unyielding sand I thought about what we’d just done; sailed for three and a half hours without touching the tiller—the rudder had come home dry.