Recently, we have had a series of “firsts” regarding Wind Affair. We had our first passengers – Evan’s mom and dad. Our dog, Emily, braved her first time on a boat. We finally got in our first real sail. And we experienced our first time running our boat aground.
First Passengers: Evan’s folks came out with us as our first passengers last week. It was going to finally be a nice day out – not the 104 degrees that it had been. The wind was light, but there. UNTIL we got on the boat. Then it died completely never to return. We had packed some snacks (cheese, smoked sausage, graham crackers) and libations – Dark and Stormies.
The weather otherwise was really nice, so because we were already there, and we had drinks to serve, we just decided to fire up the diesel and motor around the reservoir. We toured all the McMansions surrounding Geist, and though noisy, it was actually a lovely time.
Emily’s First and Our First Sail: We took Emily out for her sea trial. There was, again, no wind, so we motored around the reservoir again. She was nervous, but handled it well. A day or so later there was actually a little wind. We took her out again and did our first real sail of our boat. It wasn’t too bad. We have some adjusting to do to our new (to us) boat. She handles very differently than her big sister, Dauntless. This was, also, Emily’s first time on a boat under sail. She’s a good dog, and we are sure she will quickly become accustomed to bobbing around on the water and the feel of heeling over when the winds are gusty. Safety netting on our lifelines are also being investigated.
Running Aground: Our most recent in “firsts” was running aground. We had been out on a fairly nice sail. We noticed that Emily was getting a little antsy and thought that we had been out long enough and she probably needed to pee. So we headed back to the marina. We had just finished putting the main sail away when we suddenly felt – and heard – everything grind to a halt. We looked at each other for a split a second, eyes wide and then simultaneously and telepathically told each other, “OH ****!”
It was obvious that we had run aground. This is a man-made reservoir and we knew of a few places where there were old bits of what used to be Germantown lurking beneath the surface. Near-ish to where we were was what we knew to be an old bridge abutment, but we should have been far enough away from it. This had to be something else.
We do not yet have a chart plotter, so we couldn’t see the lay of the land beneath us, but we do have a depth sounder. We had previously been in water of about 10 feet in depth. Now, suddenly, it was reading 3.6 feet. We had discussed in our sailing class what to do if this happens, so we knew in theory what we should do. It was time to put it to the test. We needed to put weight forward, or aft or port or starboard – enough to tilt us in any direction that would rock the keel off of whatever we were on and allow the engine to move us into deeper water.
Not knowing what we were on or how big it was created a bit of indecision. Which way did we need to try to go? We tried putting the dog and me on the bow and motor forward. No good. We then tried reverse. No good. Then I moved to the port side and pushed the boom out as far as I could stretch. We tried forward, reverse, and we tried twisting back and forth. The twisting offered the most movement, but really we were just twisting in place. So I moved to the starboard side and leaned out on the boom there. Same tactics… same non-progress.
We then thought maybe putting Evan out of the side with the boom would work better since I’m kind of small. It didn’t make any difference. I was getting pretty upset. I was internalizing as much as I could, but as I cut the wheel over and back, I was grimacing with every sickening feel and sound of SCRRRAAPE-ing across the top of whatever we had landed on. We were getting nowhere. Finally, Evan climbed down the swim ladder. He was standing in water that was only chest deep. He started carefully walking all around the boat to see if he could figure out in which direction things would start sloping deeper or maybe even drop off. He walked a wide radius with VERY little change in depth. What the hell were we on???
Finally, I flagged down a couple on a pontoon. When they arrived we explained the situation, and they readily agreed to tie on to us and try to pull us off. We decided that just continuing forward and using the combined power of our engines would be the best way to go. It was still quite a feat. When we were finally free, they untied us and we thanked them profusely. We hadn’t even exchanged names yet, so we laughingly took care of those niceties. Their names were Tim and Toni. As we relayed again our gratitude Toni said, “We were more than happy to help. Just don’t take any ghosts home with you. That wouldn’t be good!”
I thought it was an odd comment, but some people have an odd sense of humor, right? Later, as I was thinking about writing this post I wanted to make sure I had the name right of the town that had previously existed before it was made into a reservoir. I found a rather interesting website which now made Toni’s comment make sense! Check it out: The Ghosts of Germantown
Pretty crazy, right? I love it. I’m so much more cool with sailing around on this little lake. I might spot a ghost! How cool is that?!? AWESOME!! Also, we spoke with our friend, Todd, about what had happened. Apparently, we are not the first sailboat to have found that high spot – including him. It has been dubbed “Spengeman’s Rock” after the first person from the sailing club who ran up on it. Why a buoy or something to mark its location hasn’t been set is beyond me. Then again, the only reason we know where the bridge abutments are is because they have been hit and documented on someone’s personal chart plotter – Todd’s. Since we don’t have one yet, we just have to hope that we don’t find it again the same way in order to add it to ours when we do get one.
I didn’t take any pics during our incident running aground. Evan would not have been pleased to see me with my phone out trying to get a good shot of our situation. It wasn’t one of the more fun events in my life either. So here’s a pic of our port view just before we decided to come in.