We sailed Rivendell over to our favorite overnight spot, Blakely Harbor this past weekend. With wind speeds from 4-18 knots Saturday and Sunday we finally got to put the new sails through a real trial.
But first, a little crew update.
We wondered how Grizzley, our 50 lb. (mostly hair) Australian Shepherd mix would do while sailing. So far, we’ve been thrilled that he has taken so well to sailing and cruising, at least on the short cruises we’ve taken with him so far. Xena also appears to be quite smitten with Grizz, as she regularly snuggles up to him for protection when the wind picks up.
The trick is that Grizzley has finally associated sailing with riding in the dinghy, which he seems to love all in itself. But especially when the dinghy arrives at a beach where he can run like crazy for an hour (or two or three as he’d prefer). Turns out, Grizz is quite the water dog, despite his rural, sheep herding ancestry. He’ll swim out for sticks in the water for hours. When we get 50 or so feet from the beach, we stop the dinghy, tell him “ok!” and he leaps off the front of the dinghy and swims the rest of the way to shore.
Last weekend we dinghied out to explore Blakely Rock at low tide. When we were still a ways off, Grizz spotted a couple of baby seals on the sand and leapt off to go chase them. Luckily, we yelled at him to stop and he actually did and swam back to the dinghy. We pulled him back onboard (thanks to his Ruffwear float coat) and had some words about leaving the dinghy without permission. Ahh, got to love dogs.
Maybe Grizz really loves the dinghy because that’s when he gets to empty his bladder. We’re learning that cruising with a dog means lots of trips ashore. We also find ourselves going to places like Blakely that are dog friendly — meaning a nice park ashore and not just a bunch of people’s front yards (although this is only really a problem in the more populous parts of Puget Sound near Seattle). We think this is good in the long run for all of us; instead of lounging lazily on the boat all day we’ll have to get out and explore…. Of course we do hope to teach Grizz to just let loose off the side of the boat eventually. He’s actually happy to pee on the mast, but with the new halyards we’re not so thrilled we taught him this and are going to have to start over with this bit of training.
Anyhow…back to sailing.
So we had a pretty good test run with the new main and genoa. On Saturday, winds were fairly light, probably nothing over 10 knots. But, we were able to sail at 4-6 knots even in these light breezes upwind. The new main is so sleek and flat, gone is the big bellies all our other mains have had. What a difference! We can actually trim the sails now.
Our new main is full-battened which give it an excellent shape (and will hopefully keep it that way as the sail ages), and we also ordered it loose-footed. We’ve never sailed with one of these but so far we LOVE it. We actually tweaked our outhaul a few times and got a noticeable speed increase.
The other thing we noticed with both sails pulled nice and flat is that we can sail close hauled at a much narrower angle than before, the best we saw was about 28 degrees apparent. With the bagged out old sails, we’d never been able to point better than 35 degrees. Of course, most of the sailing we’ll do offshore is off the wind anyway but it just proves what better performace we’ll be getting. All in all, we’re pretty pleased with the new sails and are glad we made the investment. It really does make sailing a lot more fun.