Our First Sails on Dream SeQueL

Not too long after we purchased Dream SeQueL, I happened to have a business meeting in St. Petersburg, just down the peninsula from her home dock in Clearwater Beach, FL. A few friends who were attending the meeting are also sailors, some with considerably more experience than we. One, Henry Thompson of the University of Edinburgh, is actually a sailing instructor. Consequently, we were delighted when he expressed interest in going sailing with us.

Henry and another friend, Jonathan Robie, went out for a day sail on Sunday, the day before the meeting started. We managed to undock successfully and navigate our way (under power, of course) out of the canal in which the boat resides, then along the ICW (IntraCoastal Waterway) and out Clearwater Pass into the Gulf of Mexico. We spent an exciting day sailing in picture-perfect conditions, regularly reaching and exceeding hull speed and keeping the rail buried much of the time. It was a great introduction to actually sailing on our very own boat.

Mind you, at that point, Barbara and I had taken only a half-dozen or so sailing lessons in an 18′ Catalina on the Great Salt Lake and had no idea whatsoever what to do with our new toy! But, Henry helped us learn an awful lot that day, for which we are very grateful. After a few hours of fun, we headed back inside and to our home dock, where we tied up without event.

(Later in the week, Henry and another friend, Noah Mendelsohn, took Barbara out for another day sail while I was stuck in another technical meeting. They had more fun, of course…until they returned to the dock. Due to higher-than-expected winds, and particularly a gust that caught them just as they reached our dock, they….ummm, how to put this…bumped into the dock and pilings a little harder than planned. In fact, they ripped off the starboard running light from the bow pulpit and crushed a short section of the teak caprail — thus helping us become aware that there was a slight rot problem right at that point on the caprail :)! True to their ethics, Henry and Noah offered to pay for a replacement running light and for repairing the caprail. I gladly accepted their offer for the running light, but declined it with respect to the caprail.)

A week or so later, emboldened by our new-found knowledge, Barbara and I decided to take Dream SeQueL out for a sail all by ourselves. We successfully undocked, navigated the canal and ICW, and headed out Clearwater Pass. Just as we passed beneath the fixed bridge to Sand Key, I had the bright idea to pull out the furled jib and start sailing! Well, that wasn’t actually such a bright idea, ’cause the wind was gusting out of the south. Just as the jib came out, a gust grabbed it and promptly turned the boat smartly to starboard (north)…right into the path of a rather large tourist-trap boat coming in the Pass!! With Barbara’s quick thinking guiding me, we completed the turn right back into the pass and back under the fixed bridge. It did no good to pretend we’d planned to do just that, as we were all over the place, and the captain of the tourist boat had a properly concerned look on his face. How embarrassing…but at least nobody got hurt and we didn’t break anything.

But we did decide not to be quite so hasty the next time!

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