My husband, our daughter, and I sailed our little day sailer, Egretta, today on a sunny blue-sky day with white puffy clouds and Irish green hillsides. Our daughter was excited to wear a new swim top she bought for the vacation we won’t go on because of the pandemic.
We’ve had lots of rain and storms lately. Rafts of debris floated on the surface of Claytor Lake, from twigs and branches to tree limbs and 20-foot logs. As a result, despite 75 degree weather and crisp, clear skies, there were few power boats, making it a great day for sailing. We had a (mostly) steady light breeze, with some gusts. Due to frustrations anyone who’s used an outboard motor can relate to, we wanted to try sailing without taking an engine. And it turned out fine: we paddled away and into the ramp as if we’d done it a thousand times. It was so much easier than fighting with the motor.
We went out at about 4:30 in the afternoon. In case we wanted to stay out until sunset, I made a picnic dinner of pita sandwiches with black-eyed pea hummus, sliced tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce. I threw green grapes and sugar snap peas in the cooler, and we also stopped at a gas station for salty snacks, but our daughter ate half the can of Pringles on our way to the lake.
We paddled away from the ramp easily. We raised the mainsail, and the fresh breeze filled it. Water snapped and rattled against Egretta‘s hull, and we sped on long tacks up the lake to the dam and back down past the ramp and the beach.
Instead of being nervous as I have been previous summers as a newbie, I had fun this time crewing. We had enough wind to keep me active, watching the telltales and constantly trimming the jib. Our daughter lay on the bow, and I balanced us by moving from windward to center to leeward depending on the heel of the boat. We had a few gusts that tipped us unexpectedly, making me do that jerk reflex like you do when you’re falling in a dream, but the tipping didn’t frighten me like it used to.
I’m so grateful winter is over. Now it is finally the season for flowers and sailing.
One thought on “First Sail of the Season”
Ah, sailing on a lake! I have both here, the lakes and the sea. I started on lakes, in my O’Day 17 footer. I remember it was like trying to play pool on a surface that wasn’t flat. The wind off the hills squirrel like, always changing. Its magic, to sit on the interface of water and air. To have a centerboard pointing down and the sail directed skyward. Each gaining traction in its fluid. Such a special feeling to be flying over the water powered by natural forces.
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