Monday, August 1, 2011

2011 Sailing Trip - Day 11 – Geneva-On-The-Lake and Beyond

Miles by boat – 60
Miles by foot - 3

At 4:30 we are awake and I’m trying to pull up the weather, but the internet connection is slow and I can’t get the radar map. Outside, it’s very calm, warm and looks like it will be great for sailing so we prep the boat, pull away from the dock and are out on the lake. The skies to the north look extremely black, and Ana spots some lightning flashes. As we are about a mile out the radar finally comes through….and looks terrible, with a huge system of bad weather north and west of us. We decide to play it safe and turn around, and even as we are returning to the dock the winds are already starting to pick up. We tie up, jump back in bed, then at 7:30 I awake to find strong winds, steady rain and an overall miserable sailing day.

Knowing we’ll be stuck for the day, or at least until late afternoon based on the weather map, Ana calls around to the local rental car companies, but doesn’t find any good options. We meet up with Andrew for coffee to discuss the plan and we decide to hang around Geneva until the afternoon to see what the weather would do.

Shortly before noon we all walk back into Geneva so Andrew and Michelle can see the carnival and we can grab some lunch. We settle on the patio behind the Fire Station winery and restaurant and it is actually quite nice back there, as there is a view over the lake and is shaded by mature trees. The lunch is okay except for the five dollar wine I order which is served in a tiny disposable plastic cup and lasts about two sips. After the lunch we take the kids to the arcade so they can play a few games, and Andrew and Michelle continue back to the boats. We then walk back to the boat and notice the weather clearing, the winds dying slightly and the waters less choppy, so we pick up the pace, check the weather map, which is now looking pretty good, and prep the boat. Our original plan is to sail to Ashtabula, eight miles east, and see how the ride is, then continue either to Conneaut or perhaps even to Erie.

We leave the harbor crashing through giant waves, hoping that the boat isn’t dropping with the troughs enough to ground out the keel. Once on the water we get both sails up and find that the wind isn’t too strong at all, only about 9 or 10 knots, so with the sails up and the wind at our back we set off across the choppy water, happy to be making some progress. We pass Ashtabula and report back to Andrew that the waves are 5 to 6 feet high and will not be good for the powerboat. Sailboats can manage large waves better than power boats – as they move much slower and do not plane, you don’t get the pounding of the waves that you do on a powerboat; instead there’s a whole lot of rolling and rocking, which is okay as long as you’re not prone to sea sickness.

As the sailing is good, we know we can make it to Erie and would probably arrive around midnight. Then, tomorrow we’d have to sail back to Dover, as we wanted to be back home on Sunday to have one day at home before going back to work. We have a look at the map and decide to cut out Erie entirely and adjust our course to head straight to Port Dover. It will require an overnight sail, but since the winds are strong, and coming from the right direction, we’re quite sure that we can make good time and have a decent sail. We point Bella Blue north and are immediately traveling at 6 to 7 knots under sail, with 15 knots of wind, enjoying the best sailing conditions of the trip yet. It feels great to be headed home after such an excellent adventure. I celebrate our decision with a cold beer and Cuban cigar and there I am again, on top of the world!

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