Spinnaker and wing-on-wing sailing

Today, Tuesday, August 23 (Walt’s mom’s 97th birthday!), was a great day for Sailor Walt, who has been longing to use wind power instead of diesel engine power to propel Braesail through the water for five months now! Conditions were right AT LAST for using a huge special-purpose sail (the asymmetrical spinnaker), and for deploying our mainsail and our large headsail (the genoa) in a particular spread-out configuration, both for efficient down-wind sailing (when the wind is blowing over the stern of the boat).

On Monday night, we anchored in Kumealon Inlet at the head of a 40-mile-long, straight, ditch-like fjord called Grenville Channel. It is occasionally a little narrow but not shallow and has no obstructions, and you can “ride the current” south on its flood to the mid-point of the passage and then ride the ebbing current on south to the end of the channel, a fine feature.

Evening in Kumealon Inlet

I was not able to see any stars on Monday night because the few streamers of cloud that you see in the photo became a general overcast, and by morning, fog undulated about the inlet. The wall of cotton that we could observe out in Grenville Channel

The fog that we could see in Grenville Channel as we left Kumealon Inlet in mid-morning

had disappeared by the time we had motored south for an hour or so, the wind had risen behind us, gentle “following seas” were urging us on, and the south-flowing current was assisting as well, and Walt decided to raise the spinnaker sail, 1000 sq. ft. of colorful nylon fabric that attaches to the top of the mast and billows out like a parachute as the wind fills it from behind. We sailed for a little over an hour at speeds as high as 8 kts.(our normal motoring speed is 6-7 kts.).

When the wind died as we entered the narrowest portion of the channel, Walt took down the spinnaker and made lunch as we motored. The wind rose again in the early afternoon, and Walt tried to deploy the spinnaker a second time, but the tailwind was too strong and some lines tangled and he had to haul it down and store it in its special bag (called a “turtle bag”) for use another time; with SO much light fabric and a number of VERY long lines that run the length of the boat, it’s very easy for “hang-ups” to occur!

As the wind speed rose to 15-20 kts., Walt unfurled the genoa on the starboard side of the boat and attached its outer corner to one end of the long metal “whisker pole” that is fastened to the mast at the other end and holds the sail out away from the mast. He rolled out the mainsail on the port side of the boat into the “wing-on-wing” configuration used in a strong tailwind, giving Braesail about 1000 sq. ft. of sturdier fabric to catch the wind blowing over the stern, and we again sailed at speeds of 7-8 knots for about an hour. It’s wonderful to be cruising along with no sound but the splurgle-splaaashshsh of the water and the occasional cry of a seabird, with dazzling sun-crystals scattered across the sea’s rippling surface, and with the thought that one is NOT polluting the air with diesel fumes AND one is saving about $5/hr., depending on the price of fuel!

After traveling for about seven hours, we anchored in a spacious bay called Coghlan, and we are, yet again, the only watercraft here. While reading in the cockpit after dining on the folding table, we heard wolves howling somewhere on the heavily-wooded shore, but could see nothing. Good-night, wolves–it’s been a splendid sailing day for us!

One thought on “Spinnaker and wing-on-wing sailing

  1. Sounds like a delightful channel run. Since you are on the corner of the Deleted Islands, I need to issue you a PSA that you should NOT, under any conditions,

    1. be paying more attention to making out in the cockpit than navigating when in the vicinity of Gil Island (or anywhere else up Douglas Channel)

    2. run aground on or attempt to drop anchor on the wreck of the _Queen of the North_ off said island, which was reputed to have sank on account of the above, even though we had lots of fun on that ferry back in the early 2000’s with Grandma Joy and Grandpa Bernard, or

    3. use Enbridge’s video map of the proposed tanker approach for Northern Gateway for navigation, which may lead to conditions (1) and (2), and of course leads to those of us in certain political and marine quarters referring to that archipelago as the ‘Deleted Islands’. See here, and use only for political activism purposes. Northern Gateway is dead, thankfully, but the Wet’suwet’en and Tsleil-Waututh both appreciate your support, naturally. https://bc.ctvnews.ca/enbridge-depiction-of-clear-tanker-route-sparks-outrage-1.916234

    Have a great sail!


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