Today was one of the longer days I've been out sailing so far. Poor wind conditions made it more motoring than anything else, though. So most of the interesting parts of the day surrounded maneuvering and sailing under power. Today we left poor Red Current at the dock due to some unfortunate starting trouble, her outboard just wouldn't come to life. After Aaron and I scraped up our knuckles enough on the pull-start, we put her back to bed and hopped onto Snow Bird for the first time.


Snow Bird is another Cal 20 that's part of the club sail program at Oak Bay marina. She's rigged a little differently and has a better (longer reach) motor for a sailboat. The only small issue is she has a tear in her mainsail near the batten housing. We wouldn't really get to see if this was a performance loss of not today, because the winds were variable and very light.


One thing that's always scared us off about Snow Bird is that she's in a strange mooring situation. in order to get her off the dock, you have to spin the bow 90 degrees and the quickly buzz the motor to get enough speed for steerage. It's a bit hair raising, but this was my first successful launch in a while. It was the moment we got out of the marina, Aaron realized he'd left his backpack with all his belongings on the dock. I'd passed the point of no return for docking in the first set of slips, so I got us into a free slip a few fingers down. Docking this boat is quite nice and Snow Bird feels much tighter for maneuvering.


Aaron ran and grabbed his stuff and hurried back. We cast off and thanks to the little bit of extra room, we were able to leave the slip with no problems or Rich-cowardice. Once free of the marina, we looked for wind.... none found... anywhere. The water was still a bit swelly from a system that had moved though, but there just wasn't wind for the catching. The motor stayed down and running while we put up the sails just in case. We navigated easily out to Trial Island and then watched other sailors, hoping someone had an idea of where to go. There was wind out by Brotchie Ledge and out in Baynes channel, but nowhere else close by.


The current made our decision an easy one. With a reduced horsepower motor, no wind and a fairly strong ebb coming, it would be better to circumnavigate Chatham/Discovery looking for wind - The destination is always upwind, right? We watched a few other boats beating up a light easterly wind, but their sails luffed and the short burst of wind was gone. The closer we got to Discovery, the bigger a Chinese freighter was getting on the horizon. We had changed course a little to avoid some fishing vessels and as we saw the giant container vessel fly past us, it actually motored right through the path of the fishermen's boats. Maybe they're just used to it by now?


Approaching the lighthouse on Discovery Island, we felt a little breeze and throttled back the motor to attempt to sail a little, but it really was no use, the light puffs of wind meeting the small swell echoing through the water was just throwing the boom to and fro and getting us nowhere. After a few minutes trying to get the boat to sail, we throttled back up and waved to the other boats in the vicinity. One boat was flying a spinnaker in the opposite direction and was getting a tiny bit out of the way, but the others we passed were slowly drifting backward.


When we got to Baynes, we found sweet, wonderful wind and killed the motor immediately. The current was faithful to the prediction and helped us speed down Baynes. The few moments without the motor purring along were really nice, but all good things come to an end. We were feeling a bit creative, so we tested our mettle at buoyage and tried a different return route to the marina. We were able to find a quicker way back to the marina which is good news for those days when the north route is calling. We docked the boat like a couple of old salts, a perfect maneuver took us back into the tricky docking situation and stunned the onlookers who didn't think we'd fit. Despite the little wind issue, today was a great day to visit the ocean and to realize how little I want a motorboat.

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