Sailing on Rising Winds
Question: How do you sail on rising winds?
Answer: Keep spilling wind from the sails.
Wanda and Bryant Brumfield live in rural Clinton, Louisiana, north of New Orleans. “He’s been boating all his life, but he has always wanted to try sailing,” she explained on the dock. He succeeded quite well.
As winds on the York River built from zero to 10 mph, we headed south to the Yorktown shore and then upriver under the bridge to the Naval Weapons Station. A steady but rising southwest wind propelled us past the schooner Alliance, which was a first. To our port side lay two US Navy warships docked to reload bombs and missiles. USS Farragut is a destroyer and USS Arlington is a troop carrier. We stayed well leeway of the 900-foot security limit.
Bryant deftly turned the boat slightly upwind when gusts hit, thereby spilling winds that momentarily overpowered the boat. I showed him how to move the traveler back and forth to spill wind, and then we extended the mainsheet itself. When the wind approached 20 mph, I pulled in the genoa altogether but let it out later when the winds eased.
“You got, Honey,” Wanda said proudly of Bryant’s skill as he concentrated quietly. He smiled. “This is nothing like that disaster you had on Lake Maurepas, next to Lake Pontchartrain.”
Bryant explained, “We went out fishing on Lake Maurepas on a fellow’s cabin cruiser, and we got stuck out there because the motor conked out. Three of them were working on the engine. The four of us stayed in the cabin playing cards and drinking. After an hour they said, ‘Okay, we got it fixed,’ and I said we should head back just in case. But no, we kept going further out on the lake. The engine broke down again, this time for good.
“We were stuck out there all night, and the wind came up and rocked us pretty good. We were in bad shape. The next morning when we woke up, we had drifted 50 feet close to shore. I was tempted to swim in. I called my brother, who lived somewhere nearby with a boat. But before long a fishing boat came by and towed us in.”
“This is much better,” Wanda said, adjusting her seat. “My back is out because I got hit from behind three times while driving on the job.” She was a trouper to accompany Bryant sailing, and it was worth it to see him smile.
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