There was nothing to watch on the TV yesterday except a service at some church in London attended by that dreadful Windsor family and assorted showbiz nonentities... so I went sailing. The wind was steadily building through the day from the south-west, and by the time I hit the water it was around 10-15 knots gusting somewhat more. I chose to launch from the newish boat ramp at the end of Annawamscutt Drive in Bristol that gives access to the west side of Mount Hope Bay (aka My Bay).
I have to say this is one of the swankiest boat ramps I have ever seen. There's a a 60-foot-wide concrete ramp with two floating courtesy docks and oodles of parking space, and it is designed to be accessible to boaters with disabilities. It was built in the depths of the Bush Great Recession at a cost of around a million dollars. Apparently the money came from the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration fund through a tax on boat fuel. Thank you motor boaters for paying for ramps for Laser sailors. Thank you Rhode Island for spending federal aid on something useful to me for a change.
In retrospect this isn't the smartest place to go sailing when the breeze is coming from the south west. The wind on the west side of the bay could only be described as nasty - shifty, gusty, all over the place. Every few seconds there would be huge changes in direction or speed or both. I was constantly making adjustments when sailing upwind. Ease, hike, bear away, head up, bear away, hike less, hike more, ease, trim... Not to mention that there were some of those slam dunk headers when you are hiking hard out and the boat tips over to windward and your body goes in the water and you just hang there half-submerged for what seems like an eternity but you know that staying in the toes straps with the boat heeled over will eventually work and the boat will naturally turn off the wind and the long pointy thing will point straight up again. I guess it was good practice, but I'm not sure what for.
Of course the cause of the nasty chopped-up wind should have been obvious to me.
With the wind in the SW or SSW, all the breeze in this corner of the bay is coming off the land, and, even worse, it is being disturbed by that big lump in the bottom corner of the chart, aka Mount Hope. It's not a mountain by any means. The name comes from Montaup (meaning lookout place in the Pokanoket language) and it was once the site of a Wampanoag village where King Philip used to hang out. It's only 209 feet high but it sure was messing up my wind yesterday.
The plan for my second sail of the Spring was to work on boat-handling. Try and achieve some measure of competence, maybe even fluidity, in tacks and gybes and simulated windward and leeward mark roundings. God I was awful. My gybes were not too bad. Never once wrapped the sheet around the transom which is always a good sign. But my tacks were clumsy and uncoordinated. And my mark roundings were slow.
Now I remember why I first took up frostbiting all those years ago. When I didn't sail from September to May, I was always very "rusty" in the Spring. It would take me weeks to start sailing properly again. I'm definitely rusty this year.
The first regatta on my list of Regattas That I Will Need Good Excuses Not To Attend is tomorrow. Maybe I can use the excuse that I'm too rusty? On the other hand, perhaps thrashing around Newport Harbor with 50 other rusty sailors might help me get rid of some rust? It's a conundrum.
This post is sponsored by King Philip's Magic Non-Corrosive Non-Toxic Non-Flammable Non-Hazardous Natural Rust Remover. Warning: wear rubber gloves, eye protection, and cover all bare skin. Do not ingest. Do not inhale. Do not use near naked flame. If spilled on skin then immediately immerse whole body in 50 degree salt water for two hours.