Today the boat and myself, along with one other new to sailing sailor, made a trip into Aransas Bay. This probably would be classified more under the misadventure category than the adventure category. By the time we rounded the jetty which protects our harbor entrance we had burned a hole in our exhaust tubing and had billowing smoke coming from the cabin. I took a deep breath as if diving into water and went below to bring to the cockpit two of the fire extinguishers so that they would be in a place close at hand if flames exploded. Myself being as afraid of maneuvering my new boat in the confines of a harbor with multiple yachts worth several hundred thousand dollars was enough for me to continue, hoping to gain some semblance of how my boat handles before I head back(I grazed the adjacent boat, without damage, while pulling out since I had the wheel cranked and also was not really sure where center – straight – was). The wind speed was somewhere around seventeen knots, though I heard on the radio somebody report twenty-four (perhaps in the main shipping channel?). Having a new sailor on the boat, as well as never having taken her out deterred me from ever raising the mainsail, which was prepared to be raised. On our first tack the main was blown to leeward, port, and filled that side of the boat with a jumbled sail mess. This amplified the problem that the genoa was running through the safety line on the port side. We sailed out a ways and tacked. My boat has A LOT of freeboard, and with the new sailor at the helm, Robert, we had trouble keeping our momentum through the tack. Teaching Robert how to sail as well as learning the intricacies of my boat was quite the task indeed. Once I explained how to keep momentum through the tack things went much more smoothly. All together we probably tacked six or eight times, and jibed once, each time bettering our ability to work together to complete the task. On the jibe we werent quick enough getting the sheet in and the sail was folded over the forestay(furler). At another point while tacking, the sheet to be brought in cought up on the standing rigging at the level of the deck on the windward side. After a bit I was able, while we were on a starboard tack, to untie the genoa sheet and rethread it outside of the standing rigging as it was supposed to be. In general, I had trouble getting the genoa tight enough that we were really making progress upwind, perhaps having something to do with the fact that we never raised the mainsail, and also have so much windage due to the boats freeboard. Lucky for the two of us, the wind was blowing from the south, so the entrance to the harbor was downwind. On our last several tacks we furled the genoa, slowly, since I had replaced the aging line of insufficient length with an old climbing rope. The climbing rope had lots of stretch, but seemed to do the job reasonably well (I just don’t want to fork over the cash for a new line). With our Genoa a small triangle at the front of the boat we slowly made our way back to the slip. My neighbor Tom, whom I’ve been borrowing tools from, was particularly concerned about our adventure out. His worries as it turns out were unwarrented, as we floated into the slip as well as a seasoned forty year veteran of the ocean. I only started the engine at the very, very end of the journey, in order to put it in reverse and halt our forward momentum. With the sailing in the bay, and the downwind sailing to the harbor, in which I really payed attention to how the boat reacted at slow speeds to tiller changes, I had enough feel for the boat to maneuver her safely to her slip. I wish I had pictures, but wasn’t really thinking about that when the smoke was billowing out of the cabin. Here I am now though, safely moored, and with more work to do, as always. The first problem that I had to attend to upon returning was the leaking packing gland on the driveshaft, which was causing my aging bilge pump to unload about a gallon every four minutes. A bike ride to the hardware store, with Muddy Waters in tow for exercise, and I had my hose clamps (one had broken upon inspection). It only took me an hour in the oil inflicted bilge water to adjust the hose clamps such that there was no more packing leakage. Whether or not I overtightened them is yet to be determined. I guess we will see the next time that I decide to take this boat for a stroll what happens.
Needless to say, my next couple days will be of engine work. I need to get the raw water system working properly, as well as replace the exhaust tubing that I burned out. This is supposed to be a learning adventure anyhow, and every day is a learning experience. Only with hardship can one grow.