Look ma no motor
The morning we were ready to leave Port Hadlock, a nice northerly breeze was blowing, as forecast – for once. If it were to stay this way – which it did – we would have an easy eight-mile down wind cruise to Port Ludlow where we needed to stop for a fishing license and ice cream (guess who wanted which). But first, we needed to haul up anchor at Hadlock and start our day of sailing.
We were in no rush from the get-go. It was an easy two-hour sail at most and we had all day to do it. Me, never wanting to miss an opportunity to push the envelope, discussed the idea of sailing off the anchor instead of using Meriwether’s motor. We had no other boats nearby and the wind was pushing us into open waters – the risk was nill. My plan was simple; Kerri would raise the anchor. Meriwether would start to pivot with the wind as she always does. I would unfurl the head sail allowing the wind to turn us away from the wind. Some sail trim action would then result in us heading off towards our destination. Sounds easy, right? It was! Everything worked as planned, and next thing we both knew, we were slowly cruising towards Port Ludlow without all the noise of the motor – nice!
The only issue was an ever so slight timing mistake on my part. I should have delayed Kerri for a few seconds to purposely planned the direction of rotation once the anchor was up. Once we had the anchor up we had no control for a few seconds. We had to go with what the wind dictated. This ended up putting us on the wrong tack (sails on the wrong side of the boat) for our destination. The plus side is that we were sailing under head sail only, which is extremely easy to jibe (to cross the wind when it is coming from behind us) across and to change the boat’s heading. Once this was complete, the rest of the sail was a breeze, literally. Even though the wind speeds were forecast in the low 20’s, we were not seeing those numbers. Most of our sail was in the low teens, which was very relaxing – if not a bit boring.
The wind died down completely once we got closer to Port Ludlow, after a peaceful two hours at sail. We hadn’t sailed fast under the single sail, but it was easy going. The current was in our favor too, pulling us towards our destination the entire time. We did eventually turn on the motor to bring ourselves to our actual anchorage just outside Port Ludlow Marina, where we stayed for two weeks in August of 2019. This time we would only be staying for a single night, with only one quick trip to shore for the necessaries. After our paddle in and back, we spent a comfortable glassy-waters-night in the anchorage.
The following morning we set out to make it another eight miles down wind. Kerri has been talking about Port Gamble for a days now, and that was our destination for the upcoming work week. The route there was as simple as motoring out of the anchorage and raising our sails for another down wind run across the norther most portion of the Hood Canal. The winds were coming from a perfect angle to head straight into the mouth of the Port Gamble Bay, which is a short but tight channel between Port Gamble and Point Julia. Going outside the clearly marked channel means we risk running aground. Even with that risk, we both decided to sail through it. Our point of sail through for those few minutes was dead down wind – at risk of a jibe with the slightest boat or wind direction change – but our confidence is skyrocketing this year. Mid way through the canal the wind did exactly that, but we had already planned ahead and had dropped the main sail. As I mentioned earlier, a jibe with just the head sail out is extremely easy, so once the wind started that process, we were on top of it and adjusted ourselves and the boat like pros.
We came out the other end of the channel, still under sail power heading straight for our planned anchoring spot, another half-mile into the bay, right beside the the start of the hiking trail system on shore. As we crept closer under a mild breeze, we discussed us anchoring without using the motor. Again, there were no other boats around, so risk was minimal if not zero – we could mess it all up and just chuckle about it – no big deal.
Just as we approached the exact spot we wanted to drop the anchor, I quickly furled in the head sail and turned Meriwether hard into the wind. Just as the boat was coming to a stop, Kerri dropped the anchor and paid out the chain as the wind was pushing us backward. We stopped at four-to-one scope, ensured the anchor had set, added in the bridal with ample length, and BOOM… we had just pulled off our first anchoring by sail and it was smooth as snot.
You folk are getting good!
Thanks Rob. We are both really feeling a ton more confident this year, not just in ourselves but in the knowledge that we really can’t mess up with this boat.