Friday, April 11, 2014
Back in the Water
The past few months have been rather soggy around here, but in the last week or so we've started to get a dose of seasonable weather. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Solitude III again took to local waters for an after-work sunset cruise.
I had planned on working on unjamming my centerboard over the winter, but have not yet actually done so. I was hoping that maybe something had mysteriously changed, or that with a little persistence I could get the board down, but alas, it wasn't to be. That slab of plywood, that creator of lateral resistance, that enabler of upwind sailing, exerted all of its stubborn will to remain in the full upright and locked position.
I wasn't going to let this ruin my day, though, no sir! I have no need to be purely a purist. A sailor's biases against the dread gasoline beast hindered me not from harnessing its propulsive might to get me away from shore. Happily did the little noisemaker purr as I left the dock, steadily did it chug as I turned my bow down-river, bucking the 3 knot current created by a monster incoming tide, dutifully did it push, as I entered the golden waters of the Sound and headed into the sun.
I had no particular destination, but rather a plan to get as far from the shore as possible before my turnaround time. The seas were calm, the air was warm, and the sky bright and graced with wispy clouds. Onward I went, no, onward we went, Solitude and I. But we were not alone for long. Just as it was time to turn around, I heard a sound, distinct and instantly recognizable...the breathe of a whale. I spun my head around and caught sight of the great mist of water that had been sent skyward by the whale's exhalation drifting slowly back to the surface. Then another, and another. I found myself in the midst of a pod of gray whales, apparently tempted away from feeding around Hat Island by tastier morsels in the vicinity of the mouth of the Snohomish. For a while, I just took it in, as the whales surfaced and dove around me, each time spouting a column of water skyward as they came to the surface, and occasionally displaying their magnificent flukes as they headed for the depths.
Too soon, I had to leave and return to terra firma. It was a good start to the season.