Cutting the Dock Lines

Solace

Looking through a port hole at Solace sitting at the dock on Lopez Island.

I finally did it! I cut the dock lines.

The sendoff party last night was small and intimate, just the way I wanted it. We had a propane fireplace on the dock and poured everyone a glass of my homemade blueberry wine. The weather cooperated by clearing up and calming down from the steady drizzle and gusty winds we’ve been having the last few days.

March is hanging on with an iron death grip. The forecast for the week was for unpredictable, gusty winds that I normally associate with March. Before leaving the dock in Anacortes, I put the first reef in my mainsail. I’ve read more than one sailing memoir where the author recommended this practice. It’s easier to remove a reef while under way than it is to put it in. And it’s much easier to put it in at the dock. Now that I have a wide selection of four jib sails, I plan to leave the first reef in. I’ll rarely need a double reef and I can easily undo the first reef in light wind. Leaving my mainsail like this allows me to easily balance the boat and achieve comfortable cruising conditions (i.e. not heeled over or rocking) in any kind of weather.

Places mentioned in this post:

I had a great sail to James Island. On a broad reach with my jib and reefed main sail, I averaged about five miles an hour and drug my diving salmon lure behind the boat. As I tacked behind James, I saw to my disappointment that the dock still hadn’t been installed. It was forecasted to get rough that night and I wanted to find some decent shelter. My next closest shelter was Spencer Spit inside Thatcher Pass, but it was less than ideal for the forecasted stormy conditions of that nights.

Reefed Main

Showing the single reef in my main sail.

As I motored my way back around James Island, I saw a neglected dock on the shores of Decatur with no houses near it. I motored closer and docked up. There was a real-estate sign on the dock, but no warnings about trespassing or houses to be seen. I poached the dock for the night, but it was more exposed to the chop rolling in from Rosario Strait than I had expected. I spent a bumpy night there and continued in through Thatcher Pass early the next morning.

This morning, as I motored just north of the Lopez Island ferry terminal, I was hit with the notion that I’m part of this place. This is a sense of being that left me soon after my trip last summer concluded. Oh sure, I still picked up trash when I saw it on the beach. I didn’t lost the understanding, in an intellectual way. It was the emotional connection. The sense of being part of the island ecology.

Chloe

Petting Alan’s dog, Chloe.

As I turned down Upright Channel, between Shaw and Lopez Islands, the forecasted 25 knot, southwest winds were hitting me full in the face. I ducked inside Picnic Cove on the southwest side of Shaw Island for the night and ran a stern line to a large tree near the shore. I was able to tap into a weak 3G signal with my cell phone booster and get a connection to the internet. The next day I continued the short distance to the Islander Resort on Lopez Island to catch up with sailing friends Alan and Adam. I took advantage of the shore power to top off the batteries and ice box.

They introduced me to their dock neighbor Kevin, about my age, who had just completed a four-year trip around the Pacific Rim. We sat in Adam’s new boat, Tuwamish, sampling my blueberry wine. Four sailors leading very different lifestyles, with very different views on how to achieve happiness, but brothers. Kindred spirits grateful to converse with someone who understands their love of the sailing lifestyle.

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Comments
One Response to “Cutting the Dock Lines”
  1. Congrats Chris! Fair winds and hopefully our paths will cross at some point this summer. Enjoy it – you’ve earned it.

    – Katie

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