Hobie no more

[Update: the sale fell through. I still have my Hobie, and I don’t know if I’m going to put it up for sail again. It’s just too much fun – even if it does take a full day to get out there & back.]

I sold my Hobie yesterday, almost 6 months to the day from purchasing it. It was a blast of a boat, and it’s going to a good home. I’ll miss it big-time once the summer thunderstorms and lack of wind end, and the fall breezes fill in. But with a 50 mile drive each way, it just took too long to drive out and set it up before I could even get on the water. I would be gone most of the day on weekends just to get in 2-hours of sailing.

So instead of sailing I’ll just stick with my little skiff and motor around whenever I get the chance.

Over the river and through the woods to get to sail my Hobie…

Last Saturday’s forecast: wind. Nuf said. Downside was that I-275 through downtown Tampa was undergoing major revisions all weekend due to the ongoing construction. Forecast: expect 1+ hour delays through town. Ugh.

So I looked at my various options, and the only reliable way to get to Dunedin was to head south on I-75, then hop on I-275 northbound across the Skyway Bridge to St. Petersburg, then up Hwy 19. Road trip! Only problem is that it’s a 2-hour road trip – each way.  I got a later start than I wanted (had to help my neighbor round up a couple of stray cows), but was soon on the road.

When I got to the beach there was only one launching spot left. Whew. Made it just in time. I backed the boat to the water’s edge then started rigging the mast & sail. I have a system where I can raise the mast & sail fairly quickly. But it had been a few weeks, so I had to take my time; didn’t want to forget an important step along the way. Finally all ready to go, I pushed the boat into the water and took off.

The first few moments pulling away from the beach are always so cool. The wind caresses the sail and silently off I go. No rumbling motors, no paddling. I just sit there, trim the sail and hold the tiller.

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My playground…

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In no time was I really moving. The wind was blowing hard from the east. The skies were clear.

I headed due south, past a couple of small islands in the intracoastal waterway. I could see a few other catamarans in the distance. One was on its side, having blown over. A couple of others were circling nearby as their friend got righted. Then they were off and running again.

I’m still learning the feel of my Hobie. I practiced a few gybes, then tried to tack. Failure. I just can’t tack through the wind – I always stall out and end up having to bail on the maneuver. Ah well. I’ll just stick to gybing.

I sailed north and south for a while, trying to fly a hull. Never fully got one all the way out of the water, but the boat was screaming along. Total fun! Back and forth I raced. My hands were starting to get tired from holding the tiller bar.

I headed downwind, westwards towards the pass between Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands. The downwind sail was very relaxing, and I laid down on my back, looking up into the sail and sun. Nice.

As I was heading into the pass, I knew the return might be a bit tricky. The tide was heading out, and the wind was helping it along. The sail back would be upwind and upstream.

About halfway through the narrow pass I chickened out and decided to turn back. Part of the excitement about having to gybe to change directions is that you usually end up screaming through most of the points of sail. It’s sort of like changing directions on a snowboard – at some point you have to commit, turn your board straight down the fall line, and hope you can keep it turning before you crash and burn. So instead, since the wind was blowing quite a bit, I tried to tack. Wrong move. The boat pointed directly upwind and stopped. Then started backing. Out. Into. The. Gulf.

I looked around and noticed I wasn’t on the inside any longer. I was out past the western edge of Caladesi and Honeymoon. Oops. A Hobie 14 without a jib doesn’t point into the wind very well – probably 50-60 degrees off the wind is the best I can do. Each upwind run is more like a sideways run, and with the current rushing out, I was making little headway. And if I tried to point higher into the wind all I would do is slow down, and the current would take over and I would lose ground. My speed through the water was OK, but my speed over ground was backwards.

At least now that I was out of the narrow channel (but in the Gulf) I could make a longer run, trying to gain as much ground as I could before I had to gybe back the other way. After a few minutes I was back in the pass and had started getting comfortable gybing in the strong winds. I realized it would take a while to get fully back on the inside of the islands, with lots of zig-zags in between.

After about 45 minutes of back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, I was finally in a comfortable spot and started sailing for fun again. My hands were about dead, but the wind was really blowing and I didn’t want to stop. I tried to fly a hull again, but still didn’t get there. Still a bit too nervous to fully commit. I need to mount “Bob” on the top of my mast then give it a go. I think after I flip one time (and get the boat upright again) I’ll feel more comfortable about taking it to the edge.

I finally packed it in, broke down the sail and mast, loaded up on the trailer, and started the two-hour ride home. Turned out to be an 8-hour road trip, end to end. I need to find my handheld GPS so I can see how far / fast I’m going.

Hobie 14? It’s a blast.

Just a few things to do today

Gotta pick up some hay and feed for the horses Jan Feb 2009 056this morning. I always like to keep at least a two-week supply of both on hand in case things get crazy and I can’t get to the feed store.

It’s so funny how the horses get so focused when it’s time to eat. It’s the same meal morning and evening, everyday. Yet they look forward to it and hang around the barn when they know it’s time for food.

Then it’s off to puppy training school with Healy. He’s been doing such a good job! Such a smart dog. He quickly picked up sit / stay / leave it 2009.01.24 100 / walking on a leash / etc. Only two more sessions to go until he graduates! Last time we were at the vet, they don’t think he’s going to be quite as big as they originally thought. Now the forecast is “only” between 70-90 pounds.

Then, right after puppy school I get to go play with the Hobie for a few hours. Hobie 14 002 Right now the winds have died down completely – finally – after three days of nonstop 15-20 mph winds. The forecast for today says 84 degrees with winds shifting from NE to S at 10-20 mph. Should be a beautiful afternoon for sailing.

Test drive

I bought a Hobie 14 off CraigsList this morning. Had to take it out to the ICW this afternoon to see what it could do. There were light winds, so no worries about capsizing. It was a blast.

This is gonna be fun!

Hobie 14 018

Sunfish no more

I bought a Sunfish sailboat a couple of years ago when I lived just minutes from Lake Washington. Living that close to the water, it was very easy for me to get home from work and be on the water in less than an hour. It made for some fun evenings in the Northwest where it can stay light until 9:30pm during the summer.

When I moved to the Portland area last year I took the boat out on the Columbia River a couple of times. That was quite an adventure. The Columbia is fairly quick, and there has to be a steady breeze else you’ll end up way downriver with no way to get back. I only took the boat out twice the whole year.

Rather than try to rationalize hanging onto the boat any longer, I decided to put it up for sale on EBay. Pam is a big EBay shopper, and I figured it was time to get some money flowing into the checking account from that site.

What a great idea. (And Pam will claim that it was her idea until hell freezes over. (Uh, maybe she’s right.))

I took a few photos on a sunny day and uploaded them – even supersized them. I wrote a glowing description of the boat, trailer, and dolly.

I signed up for a 7-day auction. The bidding was sparse at first, and I didn’t think I’d come anywhere near the reserve I’d set. Pam told me not to worry, that the seasoned EBay’ers would end the auction in a flurry of activity.

She was right. The last 5 minutes of the auction was – well – a blizzard of activity. The boat sold for a bunch more than the reserve, but still a very good bargain for the winner when compared to a new set of items.

The person is coming by tomorrow to pick up the boat and drop off the $.

What fun! And I will finally have some room in my garage.