It was good to meet a couple of keen crew in Daz and Danielle on the weekend when they dropped by to check out RW and her skipper at the Soldiers Point Marina. Unfortunately they couldn't sail on the weekend but there will be many more opportunities over the coming year.
Only one crew this week as JJ joined me as first time crew and first time yachty, but he does own a ski boat so its not all foreign. After the mandatory safety and nautical jargon brief we headed off double handed to hoist sail and follow the fleet from PSYC as they set off on the opening social cruise for the Spring/summer season. We had a nice breeze of around 10-12 knots and set off for North Arm Cove.....the opposite direction to the start line! I had not officially entered the cruise so the plan was to give the fleet room so we could chase and have no pressure at the first congested turning mark. I don't plan to break my crew .....at least not on the first few outings ha ha ....you guys are precious in this time poor world!
Well all went to plan, beer in hand, except RW overtook about four back markers by the first mark! We then goose-winged our way west away from the main pack that were flying spinnakers and headed directly for the next mark. Commonsense kept my asymmetrical kite in its bag until crew can work up to launching without bursting a pucker valve.! So by the second mark we dropped back to second last, hung wide to let others past and then we were back onto the building breeze. JJ was doing a good job helming RW as Skip played decky. We sped along at 8.1 knots and made our way toward Shoal Bay on one long tight reach hitting 8.7 knots at times. A role change saw JJ on the winches and trying not to macrame' himself with the sheets as we approached Shoal Bay! After rounding the mark and heading back to Soldiers point we had a wind shift that had us tacking all the way back to Peppers Anchorage in the narrowest part of the channel against an ebb tide. As the breeze increased, the temperature decreased and JJ once again helmed. After many tacks and alot of winching I remembered why I now Skipper..... The breeze hit 18 gusting 22 knots at times so we whipped in the first reef and furled in a metre of genoa to reduce the workload......after all, we are supposed to be cruising!!
We cross tacked with a large cat and and dusted off a smaller yacht as we fought both an ebb tide and wind on the nose. By 1630 h and under a very threatening sky, I peeled off course as we passed Peppers to take up my mooring in Salamander. A quick call to Relle and we were picked up and back home, warm and dry before the torrential downpour and hail. As always, a great day on the water.