1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: Wild Weekend in Windsor

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wild Weekend in Windsor

Ok, it wasn't a wild weekend in that sense, but I pick up lots more stray readers with that title so it's good for the blog stats! What it was was a wonderful weekend with new friends Paul and Mary Ouellette, of Windsor. 
Here's where I am now, in Port Stanley.

I pulled into Lakeview Marina on Friday to be greeted by Mary. Paul showed up shortly after and once the boat was tucked away, we were off to the best rib dinner I have ever had. Seriously tasty food. Saturday was spent running errands and doing some exploring with Paul and then that evening, we went out for THE BEST T-BONE STEAK I have ever experienced. I say experienced, because to just say 'tasted' doesn't do justice to how good this was. Let me put it this way: bless that cow for living so well, bless the farmer who fed it, bless the butcher who cut that slice of meat, bless the chef who lovingly prepared it exactly right, bless the cute young waitress who brought it to the table...oh, and Paul, many MANY thanks for bringing me there!
That evening, Paul and I sat up and discussed traveling the ICW, which Paul intends to do when he retires on his boat, Winpipe, a Beneteau 36. Did I say discussed? Ha! Paul picked my brains - he may well now be the world's second best expert on the ICW, and it was loads of fun.
Sunday, the weather turned nice, finally, and I got a late start out of Lakeview, ending up at Kingsville in a commercial harbour. 
The original plan was to head across to the American side to Put In Bay, then harbour hop down to Dunkirk and have the mast taken down there. However, I had not been able to contact the club to confirm that it could be done, so I decided to stay on the Canadian side as far as Port Stanley, giving me the option of going to several different places if Dunkirk wasn't available.
From Kingsville, I had a whole two hours of great sailing before the winds died, screaming along at 6.5 - 7 knots in a lovely beam reach. After that, it was chugging along with Yanni, the ever faithful Yanmar diesel, to Erieau. I decided to take a break there, then continue on another 35 miles to Port Stanley. That four hour break cost me dearly.
Had I not taken the time for dinner and a nap, I would have arrived in Port Stanley at half past midnight. Instead, at half past midnight, I was still 20 some miles out when the winds began to pick up. I was able to motorsail for a while (sail with motor running, more speed) and then the winds picked up and went on the nose. And the waves, they picked up to. Now I was slamming into 3 - 5 footers and going nowhere. Worst of all, short of turning around and giving up the 20 plus miles I'd made, there was nowhere TO go. It was Port Stanley or nothing.
Speed is now down to 2 knots, sometimes less, and that's with the sails up. They're doing nothing of course because of the wind direction and there's no point in tacking, i.e. heading off at 45 degrees to get some wind advantage. To go to starboard means a much greater tack than 45° because the winds are off to that side. I'd lose far too much distance and slam even harder into the waves. To go to port meant heading towards the shore, never a smart move on a lee in bad weather.
Poor Aduana (the Wonderpuppy®), meanwhile, was huddled between my legs, shivering in fright. The only good thing about the entire night was that it was warm and it only rained briefly, and lightly. Other than that, it was one of the most unpleasant sails I've ever had, by about a factor of 20. The nastiness finally quit about 5:30, but by then, my mainsail was in tatters: it had been too rough to risk going out to drop it. I was planning on replacing it anyway when I got to Annapolis, and I consciously made the decision not to go forward knowing I was likely to lose the sail, but it's still irksome.
Finally, about 7 am, we turned into the entrance buoys for Port Stanley, a place of very good memories for me. I took those memories with me into the v-berth and went to blessed sleep.