We bought Adagio two years ago about this time of year with the idea that having a boat at in New Jersey would give us a chance to sail and give us a place to stay at the ocean.. good thinking, eh? ( no, i am not Canadian) My solo sailing experiences up to that point were limited to sunfish. This is the story of my first solo trip on Adagio..
This past weekend I did a solo trip to Tom’s River. Adagio was resting easily in her slip. There were still many boats on the hard waiting their turn to be launched for the season. There were jobs to be done, but the first, and most important appointment for the day was a visit from Bob 23 – a fellow compac 23 owner from the Barnegat Bay area whom I met on on a compac sailing forum on line. We had a great chat, comparing notes on numerous topics ranging from sailing to cycling to construction.. all common interests that we share. After Bob left, the first task was to clean the rudder which had quite an accumulation of growth on it. It is plastic and unpainted, and the boat has been in the water since last season. As I was inspecting it, a neighboring boat owner showed up and introduced himself – took a look at the brush that I had in hand and suggested that a paint scraper would be a much more effective tool. I took his advice – went to the store and bought some tools and spent an hour scraping the barnacles from the surface of the rudder..
With the rudder back in place, I confronted the reality that it was time to take the boat out. I must admit to some slight trepidation as I started the motor and unfastened the docklines.. Most of my sailing experience has been on sunfish, and the bigger boat sailing that I have done has always been as crew.. not only was I the captain this time, but I was also alone.. I figured that I had better get used to this idea since it is likely that, at least in the immediate future, there will be numerous times when I will be single handling the boat.. and – perhaps it is better to work out some of the kinks before my wife joins me for the first time
There was hardly any wind at the dock to complicate the necessary maneuvering through the marina, but it is fair to say that the tempo of my pulse was slightly faster than Adagio.. the former owner was on his new boat a few slips away, and he cheered me on as I motored by – but also offered the advice that I probably would want to close the forward hatch if I intended to use the jib – right – how delicately put – certainly a useful piece of advice! I motored out to where we had raised the sails a few weeks before on the trial sail and headed the boat into the wind.. The reefs that we had put in before were still tied, so the raising of the sail was not quite as smooth as I anticipated I smiled at the folks relaxing in the cockpit of a boat anchored near by and asked if it looked like my first day on the water as I drifted by them, working at the reef knots with the sail halfway up the mast.. they were gracious.. I decided to sail with just the main for a while.. light winds.. directly astern.. made good progress with only one unintended jibe.. it would be fair to say that I made a boat load of mental notes during the trip! Of course, the return was directly into the wind.. with the added excitement of darkening clouds closing in.. I dropped the sail and motored back.
As luck would have it, the small storm swept in as I was nearing the marina.. just a smattering of raindrops but a distinct increase in the wind speed. The marina operator spoke to me as I motored by the fuel dock.. I have no idea what he was saying.. except when he said ” watch where you are going” – it was time to pay a little closer attention to the conditions at hand! I gracefully corrected course, assuming that the fellow sitting on the stern of that powerboat was relieved that I did so! I kept hearing the words of the owner of the marina when we agreed to keep the boat in the same slip that it had in previous seasons ” this is a protected spot – hardly ever any wind” – right.. The wind was picking up and blowing directly across the dock. There was no time to check my pulse, but if I had, it would have registered Allegro for sure! After my 4th attempt and what seemed like an eternity I lined the boat up and slipped into our spot.. no damage to the dock, to Adagio, or to any other boat = a successful landing! As I made fast the bow lines, i glanced around to see how many of my neighbors had witnessed the agony of that first solo landing.. if they had seen it, none were looking now The wind died just as quickly as it had risen, and Adagio was resting easy in her slip…
I spent that night on the boat – my first overnight on a boat – a boyhood dream that I have carried all of these years – and awoke to a glorious morning. What a day to spend at the marina – except that I had to be back in northeast PA by 1 pm for an 8 hour rehearsal in the theater at the school where I teach. So, after enjoying a quiet breakfast and a hot cup of tea in the cockpit. I thoroughly looked the boat over, checked the dock lines and slid the companionway hatch closed. Looking back at Adagio as I made my way up the dock, I felt particularly pleased about my first adventure.