12 April 2008 - Cathie Jones, Nicky Greenlaw, Lee Fenton and I gather for the launch - stopping at Little Italy en route to The Big River Sailing Club for a hit of Italian coffee.
This (b)log will double as my log so here goes:
Tide 0537 low 0.32 m Yamba (correction for Harwood variously suggested to be 1.5 hrs - 2.5 hrs later!)
11.39 high 1.33 m
1713 low 0.55 m
Wind forecast SE to SW 11 to 16 kn
Although we arrived at the Big River Sailing Club at 9.30 am it took us 3 hours to get afloat. There was a relaxed atmosphere when we rocked up, it was the end of season BBQ. A buzz went round "4 shielas!!" Despite this reaction John Woods and Reg tried to determine the tactful level of assistance. Whilst we planned to do it outselves I certainly welcomed some help.
It was the first time we had come together to rig the boat and deal with all the other preliminaries such as removing the trailer lights (something I might have overlooked if I had not been reminded). It took ages to get the mast up but we managed it unaided.
As skipper I decided that I should do a safety briefing before we headed off (I really wanted to boast about my radio and new safety equipment such as flares). Nicky and Lee listened politely but Cathie indicated that enough was enough and it was time to get going.
Then I had to get the trailer backed down the rather narrow single lane ramp and off into the water. Despite my reversing practice in the Byron Bay High School's car park I was still pretty hopeless. John and Reg offered to do it for me but I said "no - but please help". So with much backing and forwarding and them saying "left hand down" then "right hand down" I finally got it down the ramp although very much on the edge.
Once in the water John advised us to set off under power in reverse gear (I would have prefered to sail off as I had never used the outboard). So I tried to reverse out, well the motor started first go which I felt was a good omen but then I just couldn't get it to lock into reverse gear. John called out instructions from the shore but I still couldn't get it into reverse. He almost lost his cool when he asked "have you got a manual and HAVE YOU READ IT?". I said I had but it still wouldn't go into reverse. John, as you will see from the photos was neatly dressed and planning to go out for lunch and not go sailing. However he decided that he had better help out "the sheilas" and he gallantly jumped aboard. I was more than a little chuffed when he also found it impossible to get into reverse so we set off forwards. Then all 5 of us were out in the river with John getting late for his lunch date. Help was at hand. Another trailer sailer came up alongside and John, showing great agility, jumped aboard leaving us to experience our FIRST SAIL.
The conditions were near perfect - a light sailing breeze and bright sunshine. At last it all seemed worthwhile. Although there was no proper vang or downhall and the luff of the jib was a bit slack she sailed well. She sailed magnificently. No weather helm. We tacked and gybed and she responded just how she should. It was exhilarating. We all took turns at the helm for three glorious hours (missing out on the BBQ). Then it was back to the ramp.
Cathie, Lee and Nicky held Little Dragon while I reversed the trailer down the ramp. I made hash of it but I did it eventually. Then I had to winch her onto the trailer while the others held her straight. This was the first time I had used the brand new winch with 3 gears. I had been assured that with 3 gears it would be a piece of cake - well it wasn't. Later I was told that it was probably because I hadn't reversed the trailer quite far enough into the water. What a lot to learn....
Back on land it was the pack up - quite a complicated and lengthy process. John assures us that we will get it more streamlined. I hope so.
Finally weary but happy we joined the members of the Big River Sailing Club for tea and cakes before we headed home. Yet again we were all made to feel welcome and encouraged to return. Next day we met in Byron Bay for our usual morning swim and all confessed that we had been exhausted when we got home and found muscles that we hadn't used for some time.