September 29, 2016
Highs and Lows Sailing Our Ticon 30 on Lake Superior
Hubby and I launched our new-to-us Ticon 30 sailboat a lot later than we expected, largely because there was so much work to do! A sailboat is a lot like a house: there's always something to repair or tinker with, and so we spent much of the summer in our boat on land, which made us laugh. It still had a waterfront view, I guess. The reason we finally did launch was not because we felt ready, but because the boat launch was getting a new concrete pad poured. Because it would be unusable for the rest of the summer, it was either launch when we did or not at all. Secretly I'm happy we had that extra push because I think part of the delay was just a little bit of nervousness. Although we had a boat inspection, for all we knew the boat didn't even float! Both of us envisioned hopping in and promptly sinking to the bottom of Lake Superior.
Luckily everything went as planned! The launch went pretty smoothly and we knew what we were in for because we had seen the process while boat shopping:
A huge boat travel lift came to our storage spot and moved the sailboat to the water. I wanted to cheer when the engine turned on and the boat floated, but I played it cool. Some fellow Yacht Club members were kind enough to help us launch, with only a minimal amount of heckling.
I might have failed to mention that, from the outside, our boat is an ugly little thing. Beige fiberglass, brown hull, forest green late 80s bimini... We've already given the inside a makeover and we'll get to the outside at some point - we both love the idea of a black hull and black sails. But most nights I repeatedly whisper "turquoise boat, turquoise boat" while Hubby sleeps. I'm wondering how much longer I have to do this until he wakes up one morning, unable to shake the idea of a turquoise hull.
After the boat was in the water it was up to us to get the mast on, which took my Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Hubs and I the better part of an afternoon. I got to operate the hoist (which is a lot less impressive than it seems - just a toggle switch for up and down):
It was grueling getting that mast up! At one point my Mom was steadying the mast by hanging onto a rope to keep it from swinging as Hubby and my Dad tried to position it. As I lifted the mast with the hoist, Mom's length of rope shortened but she didn't let go or ask for help. At one point I saw her sort of leap and swing by in front of me, frantically gripping the last four inches of rope, toes barely hitting the gravel. She's tenacious, that's for sure (Mandelbaum Mom I call her).
The rigging took another day as we tried to figure out what goes where. This is our second sailboat, but our first - a 16 foot Fireball - was much smaller and we were already accustomed to it. Luckily Hubby's Grandpa (the same one who painted our art) was an avid sailor so Hubby knows his way around a boat - that makes one of us.
Our first sail made us wonder why the heck we had waited so long to launch because it was just perfectly idyllic! It was dusk, the weather was beautiful, the sailing was amazing, and we were just beaming at one another. It was so peaceful and so much more comfortable than our last sailboat, which was tiny so we always got totally soaked and spent most of the time crouch uncomfortably.
Everything was beautiful - even the industrial area near the Yacht Club looked amazing from the water at dusk.
This is the life, I thought, feeling a lot of gratitude for essentially living in one of those smarmy motivational posters I always pin on Pinterest.
But, alas, Lake Superior is not always so nice to unsuspecting sailors like us.
Cue the ominous music in the Lifetime movie of my life.
We never sailed our boat home to the lakehouse as planned, because the day we planned to sail was AWFUL! Our tow line for the inflatable dinghy got caught in the engine but we didn't know that, so we were frantically trying to figure out why the heck we were dead in the water. (Lesson learned: the dinghy line should always be of the floating variety.)
The channel was super windy and wavy and we were about to crash our new boat into the docks. An older gentleman was sitting on his boat, shouting instructions but we couldn't hear him so he was just a huge distraction - until he finally communicated the problem to us (thanks!). Before we got it, Hubby went sprinting to the bow to drop the anchor - which we'd never used, so it was a nightmare to release and we missed a collision by inches. I was trying to steer the boat but it was my first time and I had two people yelling competing instructions at me. I was certain I'd crash a tear a big hole in the side. We finally sorted out the problem, got out of the channel and hoisted the sails, only to find ourselves trapped in 28km/hr gusting winds and giant swells which almost engulfed us. It was fun at first but then the sailing became really terrifying as it felt nearly impossible to stay in the cockpit. I was certain one of us would be thrown out. We tightened our life jackets and white-knuckled it for an hour or so before turning around and heading back to the Yacht Club, where strong winds kept pushing us around. We were sort of close to the slip when Hubby hollered at me to run and jump off the bow of the boat with the dock line as the boat lurched wildly. I looked at the slip, which seemed too far to jump to, and yelled back, "you want me to what now?" I paused, terrified of missing the slip and cracking my coconut open. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I see Hubby, previously manning the steering wheel, race by me and leap off the boat himself.
I seriously love this guy. (He's wearing an "Arrrbucks" pirate shirt - "bilge brewed").
After we collected ourselves, surveyed the minor damage (she needs a new paint job anyway - turquooooiiisssseeee) and grabbed a hot coffee, I think we were both thinking, "well sh*t." Neither of us were looking forward to the 5 to 7 hour journey home, having just had our asses handed to us.
Happily, we were lucky enough to be able to rent a slip for the rest of the season!
I think the club pitied us newbies because there's usually a waiting list - years long - for slips. When we were "initiated" into the club there was an agonizingly long 45 minute lecture about how we wouldn't get a slip and I was all, "yeah, yeah we don't need one we're mooring on our bay" so I really had to eat crow but it was worth it. Am I ever happy that Hubby thought my "buy a boat in Toronto and sail it home" idea was ridiculous. "Too epic," he called it (that was putting it nicely).
But subsequent sailing adventures have been a lot of fun!
I wish the sailing season wasn't winding down already because I feel like we're only just getting the hang of it. We'll be ready for next year though, and we'll be able to launch a lot earlier because shopping for, buying, and fixing up the boat consumed a lot of our spring and summer. I'm excited to actually bring the boat home to our bay next year. A neighbor made us a really cool mooring anchor that screws into the ground. To get prepared, we're thinking about signing up for sailing lessons but in the meantime we've been taking the Ticon out in inclement weather so the next time we end up in huge swells, we won't be caught off guard. Hubby always tries to aim for nice days but I tell him that while we're sailing from the club and have the luxury of staying close to shore, we should sail in any weather so we learn how to handle the boat no matter what Lake Superior throws at us.
P.S. How adorable is the Yacht Club? There's a washroom with shower facilities and a kitchen (not pictured) that is seriously nicer than mine. They literally had to remove the couches because some dudes were just living here.
It has tulip tables, tulip tables.
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