Thursday, September 25, 2008

Treasure at Smugglers Island

In the last weeks of summer Deetz, Delicate Dan, and I sailed to Smugglers Island. Well, these days it’s called Blake Island but back during prohibition it was a hideout for rum runners. It was all down wind and it was cool to pass across the Seattle skyline wing and wing (e.g. cool, optimized, risky, sail configuration) in the warm summer air.

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Our goal was to learn how to anchor securely so we could go to sleep on the boat without being in a marina. Any dope can throw an anchor overboard but it gets more complicated when you have changing tides, currents, and wind direction. As we came around the corner of the island we saw about a dozen other sailboats anchored with their crew hanging out on the beach around fires. What a great gig these people had and now we got to take our place in the same scene. Suddenly the water next to us exploded into white thrashing! A giant seal had surfaced and was ripping a salmon apart by tossing it side to side violently in the air. He was only 15 feet off starboard and he barely stopped to look us over and then went back to work. They are HUGE! Seeing wildlife up close is a cool perk of not using a motor.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

We tested our anchor as best as we knew how and then pulled out “the dinghy”. It occurred to us that maybe we should have tested it before we needed it. Our dinghy was really just a very cheap blow up raft hardly big enough for two men. It was covered with 4 years of mold which was pretty disgusting to clean off. We tied ropes to it and went over one by one to shore. That night we drank rum and gin, ate well, and played a ton of guitar. Every boat within ½ mile was serenaded, like it or not, to Robert Earl Keen and other Texas folk music.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

The anchor held. I woke up looking at a blue sky as we gently tossed in the waves. We sobered up by diving into the cold clear water off the sailboat and then had some breakfast. Then we made another trip to shore to bury our treasure:
· 200 paces north along the beach
· Climb the shoreline
· Notice a leaning tree marked with a shovel several times
· When you come to the first large madrona tree you’ll find a landing about 10 ft by 10 ft.
· The treasure is in the center of the landing about 4 feet down.

Where do you start? Well, that’s a secret.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

The sail back home was a tough one; six hours or more beating directly up wind as best as we could. Delicate Dan bowed out ¼ way through and retired to the cabin to powder his vagina. It is tiring holding a course in strong winds for that many sustained hours. The boat is keeled over, your legs are constantly braced, and the bow is crashing through the waves. We took a slight diversion off our course to get as close to a big red buoy where two seals were lounging. I can’t imagine how those fat bastards jump 5 feet out of the water to land on that slippery bobbing surface but I guess it’s easy for them. They barely tilted their heads to watch us as we slipped silently by only 20 feet away.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

That was the last sail of the summer. Now we look forward to putting on some foul weather gear and taking on a winter storm at sea. Arrgggghh!!! Drink up me hardies yo ho!

From Sail to Smugglers Island

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mickey Goes Sailing

Mickey and Allison came to visit over Labor Day Weekend. It was a short 2-day visit and one of the things we all wanted to do was some sailing. Knowing that Mickey is used to the safe and solid surroundings of his downtown Austin loft I didn't want venture out into the Sound where situations can become unpredictable fast. Lake Union is a great place for an easy, casual sail right in the middle of the city. However, the opportunity to catch Dungeness Crab was too tempting for Mickey and so to sea we went. As we sat in the locks Mickey told us of how his father, Salty Papy, had a long history of seamanship. And so with my sailing gloves on he relayed old family stories and recited vocabulary he thought he knew about the sailboat, "Hoist the jibe spinnaker!" It was all laughs and bullshitting until we got out of the protected channel and found it to be the windiest day I've ever sailed.

The first chore was to rig the crab traps on the bow. It was a challenge just to hold on. I think Mickey was still having fun as he tossed them to see. $700 a year in designer protein shakes gave Mickey the added edge to really launch those traps into the water.

From a sitting position, for balance, Mickey's creotene fed muscles pulled the main sail up in record time. And so we set sail on a beam reach (perpendicular to the wind). We didn't raise the genoa as we had enough wind for this crew. I look forward to the day when Deetz and I can get into some weather like that, but that day it was more than we were looking for. Water was crashing over the bow and the girls let out controlled screams when we keeled over from time to time.

After about 45 minutes we decided to head in as the crew wasn't having much fun and Mickey said he wasn't feeling that well. We motored to the first crab trap and Mickey did a truely stellar job balancing and grabbing the floating buoy as the bow rose and fell 5 feet with each wave. I left him there while I went back to slow down the motor so he could pull in the trap. When I turned around I found him sitting with one hand on the trap rope, one hand holding onto the boat, and leaning over slightly. BAGGLHHSHHHHEWWWW!!!!!!!! Projectile vomit of a yellow and multi-colored chunky consistency spewed into the water. This went on for awhile. The poor guy forgot what is old Salty Papy always told him, "never puke directly into the wind." Disgusting half digested salmon omelettes covered his $175 slightly stretchable jeans and Calvin Klein sneakers. The dire situation was fueled by the fact that for breakfast he had ordered TWO full orders to feed THE MACHINE. After he finished chumming I sent him back to the cockpit and I pulled up both traps which were both completely empty.