sailing

Beware The Ides of March

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My brother Johnny recently became a dad for the first time. He and his wife Carly gave birth to my nephew Valentino Mario Garofalo on 28 January 2019. He is without a doubt the cutest Garofalo in the history of our name. And, he has the most Italian name of any Garofalo since our grandfather stepped off the boat in the early 20th century. Although I could go on for hours about my nephew, this blog post will not be dedicated to extolling his virtues. I just wanted to start off with something positive before I relayed the story of our first sail since January.

“Beware the Ides of March” were the words Johnny greeted me with when I went to see him at work last week. He works in theater so Shakespeare quotes are the norm. I replied inquiring what the hell an Ide was, and he wasn’t sure..but we should just beware anyway. I’m reasonably sure the ides showed up on Saturday when Jamie and I went for a sail. I’m not sure what I did to piss the gods of sailing off…but I apologize without reservation for whatever transgression it was.

Feeling any part of your boat hit ground where ground shouldn’t be is a truly sickening feeling. Knowing that the part hitting the ground is your rudder makes it a tad worse. Knowing that a working rudder is the only thing that’s going to prevent you from hitting another boat takes that to an entirely new level. The other boat was our cross the way neighbor. That was the very first scenario of our sail on Saturday. The only vehicle to take any damage during the aforementioned nightmare scenario was Artemis. Not a ton of damage mind you…the hull is intact and scratch free. The bimini top has a bend where a bend should not be, and some screws were ripped from the deck. A huge crowd of folks on a very nice boat across from us got VIP viewing of my folly as well.

We continued into the main channel after making sure that no marks were left on anything impacted by Artemis’ bimini frame. The rudder was responding, and we figured the worst was behind us. Cue the autopilot shitting the proverbial bed. Not the worst that could happen, but my mood was fairly foul by this point. We motored our way up the main channel and hoisted our main sail as we passed the fuel dock. We always wait until making our turn at the end of the main channel before unfurling our genoa. Our genoa is gigantic and the wind is usually coming straight down the channel so we either tack with just our main, or motor out to open ocean.

We made a turn to starboard and started the process of getting the genoa unfurled. Usually its fairly easy to crank the sail out…Jamie experienced otherwise. I took over and experienced the same. It was insanely hard to crank out. I went forward to see if something was jammed in the furler. I turned it by hand, and everything spun freely, so the problem was somewhere between the bow and the cockpit. We managed to get the sail out, and figured the rest of the sail would be enjoyable.

Jamie and I both enjoy how quiet sailing is. The sound of the water on the hull, the bow wake, and the groan of tension in the lines as we catch wind gusts make for spa like relaxation. In fact those sounds were one of the driving forces behind purchasing a sailboat for me. The rhythmic slap slap slap of a halyard striking the mast is the polar opposite. It’s a jarring sound that smashes through the relaxing spa atmosphere and offends the eardrums with it’s obnoxious cacophony. Both of us became aware of that sound at about the same time.

I went forward to find the source of the noise, and found the offending halyard immediately. It was attached to our dinghy which was strapped down to the deck. I attempted to stow the halyard in its proper spot, and was promptly rewarded with said halyard wrapping itself around the spreaders in my mast. Hindsight being 20/20 it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when heading into the wind, a long rope hanging 60 feet high is going to be caught up in the breeze. I was Cheery McShittymood by this point. A rudder grounding coupled with hitting my neighbors, and losing the autopilot had seen to that. The wrapping of the halyard around the spreader was the decayed icing on this turd cake that our Saturday sail had become. I was done.

We muscled the genoa back in and fired up the yanmar. I spun Artemis 180 and headed home while Jamie went forward and effortlessly cleared the halyard from the spreaders. The entire time we motored back I flashed on my brothers ominous warning…Beware the Ides of March. I’m reasonably sure that experience has taught me that an Ide is a bunch of things breaking on the same daysail…in March.

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