The sixth season sailing Shoal Waters has come to a close. Down the creek the creekstas say I’m a jammy bugger as I always have perfect weather, be it launching day or laying up day. I say I pick the weather well as if a storm were imminent I would have rung you and cancelled to suffer the consequent re-planning! I must also say the past six seasons have passed incredibly quickly, and I’ve learn't a percentage more about handling a small yacht under sail in my wider cruising area each year.
It was a strange season in many ways that almost didn’t get started as I felt the warm weather arrived late and went away again all too quick. Most mornings at sea started with woolly hats and fleeces, that were soon shred but we had some excellent trips, some of them rather scary, especially a couple of night passages where we seemed to catch a dose of de ja vue with rain and strong winds more often than not making for not to pleasant cruising. But then those trips were passages and a means to an end in the knowledge that once done we would be inside another river system safe again when the weather would brighten up for us to enjoy some truly wonderful creek cruising. And I may not have sailed every day throughout the season but every time I went out we sailed every hour we could and so our overall volume increased. I just love to keep sailing and one trip sailed non-stop for over 24 hours. And 18 hour non-stop sails were again common. .
Charlie said to me once, it took him ten years to fathom a preferred way to lower Shoal Waters mast alone. And so I suspect it will probably take me just as many to finally come to my own preferences and nuances of sailing her. One of them is with regards to laying up. On laying up day I would prepare the boat for sailing and then sail the relative short distance upriver to where we put her trailer. Now, anyone who’s laid a boat up will know there is so much to do on the day that lists are written to remind one of other lists, and on top of this, in our case, it takes a whole day to de rig her and empty the cabin so last year I chose to walk her upriver as soon a she floated and found I had more time to prepare her, so have done the same this year and think I’ll stick with this - for now anyhow…
Creek in Flood (Mike) and Armchair Creek (Brian) lent a hand again this year and as always I am grateful. We have the whole procedure down to military precision now and sometimes launch three boats at once. This year, as we stood against Shoal Waters sharing banter we took the opportunity to synchronize our watches to the arrival of one of the wonders of cruising - the tide. I said it will be here at 1530 and to the minute it came swirling around our boots. … For those laying a boat up over the coming weeks I hope it goes smoothly for you, Tony
Image: the three amigos (creekstas) waiting for the tide.