USA-26 One Life J/99

Winter Sailing Fun with the Code Zero

Bad weather, no wind, and busy schedules conspired to keep One Life on the dock for most of January, but Kris and I managed to find the time and cooperative weather forecast to take her out for a sail.

With all the foresails rolled up on tubes, I figured the “easiest” thing to do was to just use the Code Zero. Forecasts were for 6-10 knot winds, with some rare puffs above. Perfect ranges for Kris and I to manage ourselves, even as rusty as we are after a couple months off the boat.

Of course, the weather had some other plans.

When we left Shilshole, the wind was as forecasted and out went the Code Zero with no problem. We didn’t even have the thing trimmed yet and the boat started standing on her ear. Focused on getting it trimmed, I wasn’t really looking at the wind conditions.

I got it trimmed, went back and took over steering from Kris to get the sail working, and the boat promptly goes way over. I glance at the instruments, and we’re pretty much at a 30% heel. Then she goes over some more before I have a chance to blow the sheet. When she pops back up, water starts pouring off the lower lifeline pads.

Great. Out for a casual, easy sail and we nearly broach the boat.

I glance at the instruments again, and it’s blowing 18 steady. WTF!

Anyway, I wrestle the Zero to furled and we get the boat back in shape. Then the wind peels the furl off and back I go to furl it again. So, now we have to drop the sail. We bring Fred (the autopilot) on line to help, and get it down the hatch. I’m incredibly winded after all of this, of couse (yes, go ahead and insert out of shape old guy jokes here).

Now we’re sailing just under main and have a chance to enjoy ourselves. After catching my breath, I look at the instruments again and… 10 knots wind. In fact, once we had the Code Zero down, the wind never went above 12 and mostly stuck between 6-9 knots. Only during the 15 minutes or so we were launching, trying to fly, trying to furl, and then dropping did we have high winds.

(I’m beginning to think this sail doesn’t like me much…)

Anyway, the story had a happy ending. We tooled around under just the cruising main long enough to fire up the teapot and get some hot cider down. Made sure the cabin heater worked, of course, and generally reveled in being out on the water again.

Completely worth it, especially given the beautiful and varied sky for the day — for which these pictures barely do justice.

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