I’m six weeks out from my first real shake down cruise of the season, it will start at Rosario, its spa is absolutely delightful and not to be missed. The East Sound is a vortex on bad days and I have been caught off guard more than once but Sookie drives nicely under reduced sail in the bucking conditions that little bay is famous for.
With a bone in her teeth, hard on the wind she is an absolute dream to sail. A week in the islands will do by brain good, as a sailor I hope for the the best weather at this time of year but expect the worst. Over the years Sookie has seen everything Mother Nature can throw at her and has never let me down but she does have one big handicap, in heavy winds she is a dream to weather but throw a huge nasty chop and a true sustained 40 knots and she starts to suffer. I have a had some painfully slow and exiting times trying to make good to weather in these conditions. It could be me, or her sails or just the fact that she is so small but I always have a blind eye to the weather.
Eventually I plan to ship her east and take her south to the Caribbean, the most challenging place I have every sailed. I’ve been truly freighted on boats more than once in my life and most of those experiences are from the Caribbean. Too much wind, lots of unpredictable currents and lightning storms. Leaving Panama we also had heavy traffic to contend with, triple over head seas and a sick crew. Is was like sailing through a beautiful fish tank watching dolphins soar through the water 10 feet over my head while breakers filled the cockpit and soaked us through our foulies. A warm surge of water down the neck was the only time we weren’t freezing. I swear we were all borderline hyperthermic within the hour.
Sookie will get her final fidaly bits of this and that this season as I hope to finish her rig, a project I started nearly 5 years ago. As silly as it may seem I’m thinking about adding a third reef to her main and two sets to her staysail. This little boat carries a good amount of canvas but as of now too much when the wind pipes up and not enough on those days where we drift from zephyr to zephyr.
I’m also rethinking my ground tackle that has never let me down but I’m always looking for a better way. The real question is can I haul 100lbs off the bottom. I do my best to anchor in shallow water but sometimes the bottom is an easy hundred feet down. Life aboard a small boat isn’t always easy but it’s worth the challenge and those magical days are worth every single cold and frightening moment. They say that sailing is 90% bordom and 10 sheer terror. I started with a solid foundation and have built a ship from it. The most important part of good seamanship is knowing that I am always the weakest link on my boat. Sookie is a dream happily drifting about the sound but that’s not what I built her for.