Confused yet? That's barely scraping the surface of the sailing lingo, and on a good day, I manage to remember a good portion of them, but I'm definitely lucky to have someone as patient as Mike to help me along. And a handy reference book: Sailing for Dummies. I kid you not, this is a decent book.
So we now have our boat in the water and we're ready to try our first sail. As soon as we get our sails attached. So we motor over from beside the crane where we had put up our mast the previous night to an empty slip on one of the docks.
First oops moment. When the motor is running, it's hard to hear someone from the shore give a friendly warning. So while I'm at the bow trying to figure out how not to fall in the water when I jump off the boat at the dock to secure a dock line, and thereby prevent the boat from hitting the dock, Mike's in the cockpit beside the motor, steering. I heard Mark call out from the shore, warning how the middle of the little stretch of water we're going to cross is very shallow; only two feet deep before it's all silt and mud. Mike did not hear this. We have a four foot three inch draft, which means that's how much clearance our keel (bottom of the boat) needs to keep going. Mike gets a slightly concerned look on his face when he realises that the boat is not moving, despite the motor doing its best. Mark calls out "That's what I was saying. It's too shallow." Mike hears that and now understands the problem. Solution: I hop up on the roof of the cabin and walk back and forth a few times to get us unstuck. Doesn't take too long and we continue on to an empty slip. We're pretty sure only Mark witnessed this little mistake.
We tie up to a dock slip. The marina has three docks with several slips at each. We chose B dock for the simple reason that our key (which is the bathroom key) fits in the lock at B dock's gate. The owner had simply told us to use any empty slip and he'd let us know when/if we had to move once all the other boats were in the water. Interesting system. So we don't have any official keys beyond the bathroom key. We're just happy it worked on one of the gates.
We haul out our sails and Mike shows me how to rig them. Everything looks great, and the weather remains nice. Off for our very first sail. As we head out, one of our new neighbours, a fantastic though quirky guy named Paul, gets out his air horn and blasts us on our way, a huge grin plastered on his face to see the newbies embark on their first adventure. It takes a bit for Mike to get the hang of steering the motor in reverse, but we make it out of the marina without bumping into anything. On to the bay.
Mike gets us pointed into the wind, as this makes it easiest to unfurl the sails. He kills the motor. We get the mainsail up, which involves Mike at the mast ensuring a smooth raising, and me in the cockpit with the tiller, keeping the boat pointed into the wind, and hauling on the halyard line to keep the mainsail up. Easy-peasy. Now the jib. Mike joins me in the cockpit and pulls on the furler line. Jib opens and we point the boat so that it catches the wind and ... we're sailing! Not too bad; I can handle this. I've got my life jacket on and the breeze is gentle.
"Want to try tacking?" Mike asks. I wrack my brain, trying to remember which of those nautical terms involves tacking. Ah yes, turning across the wind, moving the jib from one side of the boat to the other. Now how did that work again? Mike describes with visuals before I can even come close to panicking, and here we go.
"Ready to come about?" he asks. I release the taut line on the jib -- happens to be the starboard sheet.
"Ready," I reply.
"Helm's a lee," he says as he turns the tiller.
I launch myself across the cockpit and start hauling on the port sheet, moving the jib from right to left. The boat changes course and when I can't pull any tighter, I cleat the line.
"Nice job!" Mike says and I grin. This sailing isn't so bad.
We do a few more tacks, some smoother than others, both of us learning the feel of the boat. After a bit, Mike points us back into the wind so we can take down the sails, start up the motor, and head back to the marina.
As we come in, pointing out the slip we're going to claim (so that the port side, which will most often get the wind, abuts the dock), Paul calls out the best way to pull in. That is, go past the slip, then come around so that we're motoring into the breeze. Paul waits at our new dock along with two other guys, Bob and Jerry, and we toss them our lines. They get us all tied up and comment on how good the boat looked out in the bay. Paul shows us how to fold and tie the mainsail neatly on the boom. We get the cover on the sail, sit back and enjoy the day. Everyone who comes by greets us with good cheer and just like that, we are part of the community.