I’m sitting here with a cup of tea for a reason. And slowly I am thawing out. It’s not that it was freezing cold out there. It’s that we got completely soaked and then the temperature dropped. After putting the boat away in a downpour, we sat under the tin roof of the BBQ dock pretending our cold beer was a hot toddy. What a night of change.
In the afternoon, the wind was howling from the southwest and I had images of new speed records. At the dock at 5:30pm, it was quite a different story. Storm clouds moved in, and slurped up the wind. All along the north shore, there was thunder with lightening in the distance. We waited at the dock until it appeared that the storm was moving off toward Toronto. All this time, Hamilton was sunny, so we headed out to the start line.
The wind dropped steadily, so that by the time we started, there was barely a whisper and we struggled to get the boat moving. Slowly we tacked onto port and filled the sails, coaxing 0.6 knots of boat speed. Top Gun pulled well ahead, and Battlewagon stayed on port tack to the Hamilton shore. Eventually we built to almost three knots of speed on a good course to the windward mark. By now, Battlewagon appeared to have overtaken us, but they were far to leeward at the Hamilton shore. When they tacked to the layline, they got a knock, we picked up a lift and it became clear that we were ahead of them.
But it also became clear that the wind was dying completely. Time to cue the video — a gorgeous western sky with smoothly undulating water reflecting nature’s best.
Slowly, we bobbed toward the mark, and feared that the current would sweep us into the mark, necessitating a 360 degree penalty turn. Just at that time, the whisper of a wind shifted direction 180 degrees and we were able to react quickly, get a bit of momentum and jibe around the windward mark. That was strange!
Top Gun had rounded earlier, and were completely becalmed with their spinnaker up when the wind shifted around. By the time they doused and gathered momentum, we had closed the gap on them significantly. Gradually we found a bit more wind until we got a comfortable 3 knots of boat speed. But ahead we could see that the storm was on its way back. A straight line on the water showed bigger wind coming our way, and buckets of rain and thunder behind it. The heavens opened up just as the committee boat announced the race was abandoned.
We gave Top Gun a farewell buzz before heading across to LaSalle, shivering as we stowed the sopping gear. I think I’ll have another cup of tea.