Dateline: July 24-25, 2014
Sometimes conditions are just right for an easy decision. Today, I found myself at Cayuga Lake in upstate NY, with my sailboat tuned up and ready to go. The wind was from the north at about 15 knots, a high pressure system was in control, and I had two days available with no meetings or commitments. What could I do but hop on the boat and head south?
Ithaca, NY is about 30 miles from the place where I keep my boat, and on some days it can take 10 hours or more to make that journey. Today, after a mere 5 hours I found myself entering the harbor at Treman State Marine Park.
Sailing under those conditions is a bit like riding on a 30-mile-long slide. It feels like it’s downhill all the way, and it is pretty exciting to be traveling at the boat’s maximum speed. At times my knot-meter was indicating speeds in excess of 6 knots. This may not sound like an impressive speed, but I can assure you that it is thrilling.
I spent the evening relaxing in the marina, grilling my dinner, playing my guitar, and generally just being a part of the scene there. Sleeping on the boat is a nice experience, because you are gently rocking with the waves all night long.
In the morning the wind was pretty light, but it had turned and was now coming from the south. That makes sailing north to get back home relatively easy! So, I set off at about 7:30 AM, and set the sails and the tiller to automatic pilot while I went about fixing my breakfast. The first couple of hours were very peaceful, and I made good progress. I think I sailed between 8 and 10 miles of the 30-mile trip before the wind disappeared completely.
Without wind, a sailor has only two options: sit and roast or power up the gasoline engine. Well, with 20 miles or so separating me from my home for the next night, I had to power up the engine. The wind did not return, and I had to motor all the way back.