2013 Trip 6: how much heel is too much heel???

Sandbanks PP, Aug 2013

Friday:
Off to Sandbanks this long weekend, our must have yearly trip to probably the best beach in Ontario, and a fabulous surrounding area. Travelled Hwy 7, 15 through Smiths Falls, then briefly on the 401 until we caught the 49 into Picton which is the main town in Prince Edward County, an island in Lake Ontario..

Fair amount of traffic for a Friday morning, but like us, many have added a day to the long weekend and are already on the road. Made a slight detour off the 15 to Newboro, as there is a big general store located there called Kilborn's, and general store might be the wrong term, as it has clothing, shoes, kitchen stuff, specialty foods etc, so it is not general in the normal definition.  It is a destination store for people who love to check out country roads and shops along the way.

Sandbanks will be hopping this weekend, and there is already a lineup to sign in, and it is only early afternoon. We are in a new area this year, closer to the secondary "campers" beach. Only a few real trailer sites in our little section, mostly spot for tents to sit on the top of a ridge. Our site is pretty large, with the trailer spot nice and level, and offers the option to choose the amount of shade you want as it is nestled under some large cedars. We only backed in a bit under the cedars, since we need the sun for the solar as this is a non-electrical site.



Although we are a bit from the lake as the crow flies, we can hear the roar of the surf, which is kinda nice. Got all set up then headed for the campers beach. This beach is quite nice, as there are less people and you don't have to hike over the dunes to get there. This is  bonus given Dale's broken foot. We set up our chairs right by the water so Dale would have only a short walk to get in the water and start floating. The nice wind today is giving the swimmers some good breakers to enjoy. Water temp is lovely, perhaps not as warm as we have felt it in the past, but still awesome. Floated effortlessly with the noodles for the longest time, relaxing, bobbing on the waves and soaking up the sun. Very little can touch the sheer bliss of this.
Dinner is really casual, sliders with a side of quinoa cold salad. Read the paper, watched a couple episodes of Mad Men, then hit the pit.

Saturday:
Lots of rain storms passed over last night, and at times, it was really pounding down. This went on most of the night, but by morning it had stopped and the sun came out. Lots of clouds but not really of the rain kind, and it was quite windy. Coffee, breakfast and a shower got us going. I have to say the provincial parks have some of the best comfort stations going. The showers, individual rooms accessed from he outside of the building, are large and indestructible, which is what they need to be to handle the inconsiderate campers.

We headed into Bloomfield to meet Helen & Paul, who are staying at a B&B there.
on the drive in a whole field of massive hay bales 
Bloomfield is a nice little main street sort of town, with a nice variety of shops, from women's wear to artisan shops. After touring the shops we made plans to have a light lunch and a beer back at our site before heading to the beach. Set up our chairs close to the waters edge, this was a wise move as the wind is just howling. If we were back further, we would have been constantly sandblasted. The water is kind of chilly as the temperature is only in the low 70's and the wind adds to the chill. Lots of breakers today, with a few brave souls playing in the surf. Not the best conditions for lounging on the beach, so we soon headed back to the site. On the way back we drove by some of the beach front dune camping sites and came to the conclusion that although it seems to epitomize the beach experience, you pay for that by baking in the sun, there is little shade available, and on a day like today, the wind would pick up the sand and swirl it everywhere. Perhaps not ideal. It is nice to have a bit of shade available, and not dealing with the sand.

Dinner this evening is at Lake of the Mountain Inn, which is a little past Picton on the Cressy Point. We are meeting Joey & Geoff there, and their friends Jack & Deb.  The special this evening was beer braised beef short ribs with au jus and garlic mashed potatos. Simple and very tasty...fall off the bone good. This is a nice restaurant with a good menu at reasonable prices. We walked across the road for coffee at a new bistro that the same owners recently opened. It has an amazing view of the water from up quite high during sunset, a bistro style menu in nice surroundings. We have arranged to go out for a sail on Jack's sailboat tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday:
Nice slow morning. We have been using a Melita drip coffee filter this past couple of mornings, as we have no electrics this weekend. We have been using the expresso maker in these situations, which works fine, but we think the drip method makes a nicer cup of coffee, and a greater quantity. Using the expresso also requires you to heat the milk as well, and you end up with a higher milk to coffee ratio, and it uses up a lot of milk. Coffee for us is a key element to the start of the day, and we hav no problem experimenting with the best method to achieve the goal.

Today is sailing day so we picked up Helen & Paul, made a pit stop to gather up some sandwiches for everyone, then drove out to Jack & Debs. They are out on the end of a point on the east side of the county. Lovely house with great views of the water as they are up a bit from the water. The sailboat is real nice, a 34 footer in great shape.
We loaded our gear on and got settled in to the open cockpit area. This area seats 6 easily, with the helm at the very back. Jack explained to us all about how the boat works, the rigging, sails, controls etc. He started the engine to move us out into the open water a bit before hauling up the sails. First up was the main sail, which I hauled while Jack winched. He put all the sail out, as he explained that the main can be "reefed" to only expose a certain amount. Next up was the jib, or genoa. It was interesting to learn the variety of sailing terms, all very foreign sounding to the newbies. The jib was carried on a very efficient roller mechanism. As you haul the rope, it unwinds from the angled vertical roller mast. This sailboat has all the controls set up so one can sail alone, and a roller jib helps this out.

Once the sails were set and adjusted, off went the engine and we were underway on wind power, a source of  forward motion, not to be taken lightly, which we would soon understand much better. Jack and Geoff are seasoned sailers, and it showed in how they worked together and explained to us what was going on to keep us moving. The wind was brisk and we moved along at a nice clip, usually around 6 knots.

Looking at the variety of pieces that make up a sailboat was fascinating, all task specific, and part of a whole market segment. Similar to RV's, unless it is an interest, you have no idea of the variety available. Jack told us the sailboat weighs 11,000 lbs, with about 6000 of that sitting in the keel which makes it feel quite solid, a large mass moving through the water.

It got quite gusty, with the boat picking up speed and increasing its heel. Now there is another nautical word, meaning how far over is the boat tilting in relation to vertical. There is an inclinometer attached to the cockpit wall, a curved tube with a small ball that rolls inside, indicating the angle of heel. We were mostly cruising along at about a 5-10 degree angle, certainly noticeable as you do find yourself trying to self level your body. The wind, and how tight the jib and main are, influence the degree of heel. It seems that even when really windy, the sails can be adjusted to dramatically reduce the heel.
comfortable heel, light grip
uncomfortable heel, white knuckle grip
So were were cruising along, pretty good speed, and heel probably around 15 degrees or so, sails tight, all seemed OK, but I must admit that a constant good heel can be a little unnerving to the newbies on board. Then the big gust arrived, and all got very interesting, very quickly. Geoff was manning the main, Jack had the genoa and with some guidnce from Jack, Paul was on the helm. The big gust heels the boat well over real quick, knocking Geoff on his ass in the cockpit, while the rest of us reached for anything we could to prevent ourselves from tumbling. With Geoff momentarily unable to release the main, the heel of the boat just kept increasing, until we were well over. For a moment it felt as if I was actually standing up, supported by the normally vertical side wall of the cockpit. Dale, on the low side, was now virtually lying on her back. Then in a flash, Geoff was able to release the main and combined with Jack's work on the genoa and Paul holding the helm on course, the boat was level again. What felt like a minute of thrill was in reality only about 10-15 seconds. Talk about a wild experience, which certainly freaked us out. Jack and Geoff then explained the physics involved in all this, and although it felt like we were going over, there was little possibility of that actually happening. Sure felt like it though. Jack told us that it was the furthest heeled over the boat has ever been, water over the side deck and licking at the cockpit windows. Take a good look at the boat photo and start imagining. Paul was on the high side, hanging on to the helm, and told us he looked over the edge and saw nothing but hull. Hell of a ride, but a little more scary than expected. Never any doubt we were in good hands though, but imagine a poor owner who may have been alone or had less experience. Things can go all to hell real quick.

We swung around and with the wind now mostly behind us with less gusts coming at the boat we had a nice relaxing cruise home. Have to admit though, it was nice to get back on terra firma again. Funny thing, while sitting around in the evening, I was plagued by the same rolling feeling, just like being back on the boat. Bizarre.

Dropped off Helen and Paul at their B&B and we headed back to our site to relax a bit.  Then Helen and Paul came out and we fired up the Q, had steaks and ceasar salad.  A calm end of our sailing adventure day...

Monday:
We spent some time on the beach before packing up the site and heading out. Nice beach day, but the water was a little cool. Not a lot of swimming going on this weekend, but that is only a small part of the enjoyment of Sandbanks.  The county has over 20 wineries, and lots of galleries and antique shops, giving visitors a lot of places to check out.

One thing I have not mentioned is the issue we had with the black water tank. By early Sunday, our level meter was showing full, which was most unusual.  This has never happened before, and especially not after only 2 days. Something was odd, we just did not know what yet. Pulled up to the dump station, anxious to empty our problem. Things first sounded normal when I pulled the black handle, but it certainly did not flow long for a full tank. Another quick peek revealed a still full tank...how could that be?  A little thought on the matter and I figured we must have some sort of blockage. Resolution was not a happy thought. Natually I had nothing on board (notice the subtle nautical talk) to help, who has a plumbing snake handy? I did manage in my desperation to twist a 25 foot length of tv cable into a 3 foot semi-rigid poker, but attempts to snake the tank proved fruitless, and seriously disgusting.

Time was marching on, so the new plan was to drive home via Hwy 7, and make a quick stop at Silver Lake PP, to use the dump station there, in the hopes that the movement of driving would slosh away our issue. At the Sharbot Lake intersection with Hwy 7, there is a gas station, which we needed to fill up at. We pulled in
and soon realized that the attached store was a combo gas station / general store, and a classic one. One of those that has pretty much anything you little heart desires, and was almost a full hardware store. Needless to say, I was almost giddy with the thought that there may well be a plumbing snake waiting to be purchased by me! Sure enough there was, this store was a classic, stocking pretty much anything one could ever want and. Pulled into Silver Lake a little down the highway and the snake worked its magic. Success. Gave the tank a real good flush with water and we were good to go again, no pun intended. Needless to say, the plumbing snake has now become part of our camping kit.

So what should have been a relaxing drive home turned into a bit of a cross country odessey taking up a good part of the entire day. A good weekend overall though, time with good long time friends, got in a swim, some beach time, some Q time, and of course a sailing adventure.

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