Sailing Adventure sans pictures

Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main.
For many a stormy wind shall blow
E'er Jack comes home again.

Ah, yes.

Minuet is safely tucked into her new home at the Chaumont Yacht Club, but we had an adventure along the way getting there.

To back up a wee bit, we’ve been keeping our sailboat in Cape Vincent this year. We left Clayton because of low water levels on the St. Lawrence River and because management of our former marina fell apart after the sudden death of its owner. We were also attracted by the lure of more ready access to Lake Ontario.

There was one little issue that we didn’t know about: the infamous waters of Tibbetts Point. You have to go through those waters to get from Cape Vincent to the lake. Tibbetts Point is where the waters of Lake Ontario enter the St. Lawrence River. There is a lot of water pouring in from a wider, deeper place to a narrower, shallower place, with the prevailing winds blowing in the same direction as the current. It tends to be a little choppy, and a sailboat usually either has to motor out or tack endlessly. I’ve been through these waters several times this summer, and discovered that I don’t like it as a regular sailing route.

First, a very nice gentleman at the Cape Vincent marina told us that there were marinas in Chaumont that catered to sailboats, and that were less costly than where we were staying. Then, some weeks ago we were driving from Cape Vincent to Watertown and we saw all the masts sticking up in the air. We drove on down, and talked to some very friendly folks. We found out that we would be able to store our boat for the winter at the same place we sailed from in the summer, and it would cost us less. And the facilities were very comfortable. Much nicer than where we were.

Wow. To not have to move the boat at the beginning and end of the season... to just go there, and the boat is in the water in her slip, ready for us.

A week later we were there talking with the marina manager, and we were in. We made arrangements to move Minuet there over Labor Day weekend, and to keep her in the water there until mid-October. Labor Day is usually still great boating weather, so we figured we would have an easy time with this last end-of-the-season move. It would be an interesting, long sail, with a chunk of miles along Lake Ontario’s eastern shore. The plan was to move the boat on Saturday, then spend Sunday day-sailing around our new watery neighborhood.

Then along came Hurricane Earl.

Saturday, the waves on the lake were 9-12 feet. Sunday they were 6-8 feet. Monday sounded kind of rough but better, with waves up to 3-5 feet. We’ve sailed through waters like that, and knew that both Minuet and her crew could do it.

Much of the trip was pretty decent, but rounding the horn at Tibbetts Point we went through the roughest water we have sailed through yet. We had places to be, so we motored with some sail out to stabilize the boat, pretty much into the teeth of some strong winds. We did encounter some of those 6-8 foot waves, our very first. We had safety harnesses on. We got wet from waves breaking on the boat. I got seasick.

Seasickness is very uncomfortable. It’s not the nausea as much as the feeling of being paralyzed, while the minutes of your life go by incredibly slowly. It knocks out all of the thrill and pleasure of the moment. Life becomes something to be endured.

Eventually we were able to take a course that worked well with the wind. The waves subsided, as did the seasickness. I was able to eat some food at about 3:30. And we pulled into our new marina home at 5:30, where we had a warm welcome. Four guys met us at the dock and took our docking lines, complimenting R. on his skill at the helm. Shortly after that the cold beers came out, and we were home.

Later on the last visit of the night before heading to our home on dry land, one of the men told us he had called up to the manager, telling him we were safely docked. The manager called down “thanks!” Our new friend said he replied, “Thank YOU, for adding these folks to the family”.

Bye, bye, Tibbetts Point. I know I’ll sail through you again some day, but it will be once in a while, not nearly every time I venture forth. In the meantime, I won’t miss you.


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