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by Dan Rogers - Diamond Lake, Washington - USA

“Deep in December.  It’s nice to remember.  When grass was green, and life was mellow…”

Well, as we sit in the stern sheets of September, with October close aboard astern and about to take us on board, the grass is certainly still green.  Raining buckets, as it turns out.  But yesterday, at least, life for this sailor was indeed mellow.

I simply put down the tools, shelved the projects, put the honeydo’s on hold, and WENT SAILING.

Cold, gray, and blowing pretty hard.  Just the way we like it.  Lady Bug has been in the water a few times this year.  Far too few.  With an even chance of our current spate of early fall rain turning to the white stuff any time now; I took a shot at “one more time” before everybody gets bedded down for winter.  And, oddly enough, I had the lake all to myself.

I do admit it.  I have messed around with Simplicating and Adding Lightness to both rig and trailer so often in our 6 or 7 year association; there are times when I just don’t remember where “this line runs,” or what “that cleat is supposed to do.”  But, I got her rigged with only a few snags, fouls, and false starts.

There was a fair sea running through the launch ramp docks.  But, with a bit of caution and patience, I managed to launch the little veteran-of-a-thousand-campaigns and get her tied off to leeward.  I’m still having trouble getting that full-battened main out of the cabin and bent on without the spines grabbing just about everything that looks or feels like a lifeline, hat, boom vang, lazy jacks, or inner shroud.  But, it’s probably good to still have stuff to mess with.

I discovered that the motor mount that I had changed to fit the long shaft 8 horse Nissan kept the short shaft 5 horse Mariner pretty much above the load water line.  But, since that motor was not yet stored on the “winter rack” back in the shop.  And, since, it’s a whole lot lighter to lift, carry, and joggle onto a mounting board about 6 feet off the pavement; that’s the one I chose to bring along.  No problem.  Captain Cook made it without motors.  So, can I.

With absolutely nobody there to witness such a grand act of seamanship; I raised the main, came about on short stay, and released the bow line while pivoting seaward.  The jib was up and drawing in less than a boat length.  There is that magic moment, when you finally sit down in the cockpit, light hand on the tiller, and the boat murmurs something to the effect, “OK, now it’s my turn…”

All I had to do was haul in on the main sheet until those pesky beach cat battens snapped into a beautiful camber.  The rest was just, simply, poetry.

My absolutely favoritest moment during any sail is when the boat takes her first punch and settles rail-down.  With our gusty pre-frontal winds jumping from the high teens to low twenties, that came almost at the get-go.  A light rattling of spray on the cabin sides.  The shush and slush of the quarter wave.  A moderate hum from the headstay.  Yep.  Poetry.

We stayed out until the rain started to convince me that my fleece jacket was not going to be a long term solution.  The chop and side wind breaking through the ramp area as we passed “for just one more tack” became the deal breaker.  And, before we knew it; the spell was broken.  Lady Bug resumed her perch on the trailer.  Mast stowed, standing and running rigging coiled down and bungeed up.

And, now the rain pours down.  October nears.  Can December be all that far off?

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