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The Mast-Head: Back Under Sail

Thu, 06/08/2023 - 08:30

There was next to no wind Friday when a friend and I took Cerberus out for its first sail of 2023. This was probably a good thing, in that a shakedown cruise in conditions like the several days of force-six wind on the Beaufort Scale in the middle of last week would have been less than ideal.

As it was, I had rushed to get the old sloop ready for the season. The bottom paint was scarcely dry when the boat-mover arrived to take it the few miles from the village to Three Mile Harbor. I wasn’t even sure if the 43-year-old Volvo-Penta diesel engine was going to start. The bilge pump was acting up, refusing to get all of the dark scooge out of the hull. The sails were in a jumble in the berth near the bow. Gear and tools were everywhere in the galley.

The engine eventually kicked over. The marina crew got the mast up, and I motored off to find my mooring. Problem was that the mooring buoy was nowhere to be seen once I got to its general location. It had been there about two weeks earlier, but either gotten loose somehow or was absconded with. The first year I had the boat, its dinghy had disappeared, too. Though it rowed like a pig and I was secretly glad to be rid of it, it was disconcerting to think that thieves worked the Three Mile Harbor waterfront.

Not knowing what else to do about the mooring problem, I dropped my biggest anchor, a heavy, galvanized beast made by Mantus marine, and hoped for the best. I had purposely selected an oversized anchor for the times I knew I would spend the night in the exposed bay. Now that foresight paid off, buying time until I could rig up a grappling hook and try to find the chain and mushroom anchor presumably on the harbor bottom.

So, Friday’s light air was perfect, an easy afternoon to try out an unfamiliar sail on a new, additional forestay. Once free of the harbor, we sailed north for about an hour toward Plum Island, until the breeze ran itself out. On our way back in, the wind came up strongly from the south, but it was too late by then to turn around and take one last run. So it goes on the water, the way I like it. You never know what is going to happen.



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