Living Aboard a Sailboat -- Creating Dirty Clothes Hampers
You don't often see this on the dock: bare foot print in the frost.

Learning to Sail and Gybing the Boom (Jibing the Boom?)

So as you have probably figured out by now -- particularly if you have read the opening blog --  that I didn't know how to sail when I met EW. I had never been sailing. I had been on the ocean on a ferry to Nova Scotia and that's about it. Having grown up in Central Maine, I grew up knowing quite a bit about Maine's small lakes and ponds and not much at all about our coastline. Daddy had a 14 foot aluminum fishing boat and he liked Moosehead, Wassookeag, Sebec and China Lakes and a number of small ponds. 

So -- as has been mentioned (a lot) -- on our third date EW looked deep into my eyes and stated, "I sail and all of my friends sail." I said that I was sure I could learn. He didn't have a boat at that time (and frankly, I did wonder if he could really sail or was a "come up and see my etchings" kind of thing). Anyway he got me out on a few OPB's (Other People's Boats) and then rented a Cape Dory 28 for a week. That's all the sailing I had done until our honeymoon. 

So, EW has some great friends (now our great friends) who own a Hinckley - Competition 41. (This is where you all go "ooooooo, a Hinckley!") These friends, F & E, gave us a week on their boat for a wedding gift. Two other couples from the group provisioned the boat.  We all met on Vinalhaven in Penobscot Bay for a lobster feed and to get us checked out on the Hinckley. The next morning after pancakes on board for all, EW and I sailed away for a week. Alone. On a sailboat.  

Two more things you need to know. When he rented the Cape Dory 28, EW was smart enough to know that sailing with only me, She Who Knew Nothing, would get old. So we invited a dear friend of his to join us for most of that week.  This larger boat would be the first time I had been really required to help sail a boat for a period of time. Secondly, shortly after the "I sail and all of my friends sail" speech, EW had suggested that I take a Power Squadron navigating course.  I have a good sense of direction and it turns out that I am quite good at navigating. Back then, (25 years ago this coming July) navigating was all dead reckoning with paper charts and dividers, etc.   So off we go on our honeymoon, two newly weds, one OPB, and lots of food and drink.  We enjoyed Penobscot Bay and headed East for Blue Hill Bay and Mt. Desert. 

One of the challenges of spousal education is spousal communication. EW didn't always remember that I. Knew. Nothing.  about how the boat worked and some of his commands and direction were lacking. On the other hand, I was very nervous about "that heeling thing" and refused - absolutely REfused to take the helm. Ever. As in when he needed to "go to the head" I offered to hold a bottle for him. (That did not go over well at all.) So for the entire trip, EW captained and handled the helm and I was very green crew and outstanding navigator. 

Now finally - to our tale ..... drum roll please. I think I have to relate this as we do when we tell new friends who have not heard this one yet.

Barb: So we were going wing and wing -- down wind on a windy day -- 

EW: The wind was blowing twenty knots and we were having a great sail.  I was loving it, just hummin' along, heading into Frenchman's Bay.

Barb: So I go down below to make lunch and after a few minutes I look out the port and see an island. I pop up and say, where are you going? He says he's going behind thus and so island. I said that isn't thus and so it's such and such and there's a sand bar behind it you can't go this way.

    (Now you would think in 25 years I would have looked at a chart and gotten the names of those     islands. I have not. They've been "thus and so" and "such and such" for a long time.)

EW: So I told her, "You need to get up here, then. We're going to have to jibe the boom. Do you want to take the wheel or do you want to jibe the boom?"

Barb: Well, I still wasn't going drive the boat because I was afraid I'd tip it over so I said I'd jibe the boom. Now this boom had a preventer that was a b.i.t.c.h. The preventer is a line with ptackle used when going downwind to hold the boom so that it will not jibe unexpectedly. I was going to have to release it and install it on the other side of the boat. I hated that preventer as it ate fingers for lunch, but I wouldn't take the wheel because I'd tip the boat over. 

EW: So I told her, "Look it's very important that you control the jibe. You see that line going up and down from the cabin top to the boom? Well you take that line and you pull it in as much as you can and when I say 'Jibe Ho' you let it out gently. You are the brake. If the boom slams over it will take the rigging out and really damage the boat."

Barb: No pressure there, right? So here's the thing. I didn't pay attention in physics class. Ever. Sailing is basically all physics. That line he was talking about was of course the main sheet and it goes "up and down" from cabin top to boom through a series of pulleys. Instead of grabbing one section of the line and using the pulleys to help me. I wrapped both hands around all of the up and down sections and pulled as hard as I could. It wasn't enough.  Now EW is sailing the boat and handling the jib. This type of Hinckley has only one jib winch and it is behind the wheel, so when he is messing with the jib he isn't looking forward.  I got the preventer off, and went for the main sheet (all of 'em) and he turned the wheel, called "Jibe Ho" and turned to bring in the jib. I held on for dear life as that boom carried me all the way across the deck of the boat, bouncing the left side of my body on the cabin top, hand rails, and winches as I flew over them.  I'm tall enough (OK, big enough) that the boom stopped gently right where it was supposed to.  

   EW turns and says, "That was great!" 

    I said, "That hurt!" 

    He said, "You have to expect some discomfort when sailing."

    I said, "Discomfort, HELL! Real people shouldn't have to do that!"

Still Barb:  So we sail a very short distance before it is time to jibe back on course. 

EW: I offered to let her take the wheel and the jib ... 

Barb: But I said that no, I'd .. (well you get the idea). So proving that I am a natural blond AND a good sport, I went back to the boom and again grabbed all of the lines going up and down from deck to boom. 

EW: She two blocked it. (This is said with a touch of manly disgust) She had no leverage at all.

Barb: When we told my folks this story this is where my mother who had never sailed in her life looked at me and said, "Jeesum, Barb. I grew up on a fahm. I know what a pulley's for."  So anyway. Yes, yes I did do the exact same thing as we jibed back. Only this time, I bounced the right side of my body across the cabin top and hand rails and winch handles. And this time, EW got done with the jib more quickly and saw it.

EW: I turned around and there she was, flying across the deck with her legs out behind her. I'd never seen anything like it. I yelled,  "What the HELL are you doing?"

Barb: And I replied, "I'M JIBING YOUR G#*-D*$$ED BOOM!" (Remember, this is our honeymoon.)

EW: It was amazing. 

Barb: So later that afternoon we sailed into the town dock at Sorrento and on the dock is - no kidding - another Hinckley Competition 41. The doctor who owned it was there, tinkering and cleaning her and he very gladly helped us dock. We got off the boat and introduced ourselves and chatted a bit. He was looking at me a little strangely. At one point, EW took our garbage up to the barrel and the doc leaned closer to me and looked me deep in the eyes and asked, "Are you all right?". I looked at him blankly. His eyes dipped lower, to my legs -- both of which were breaking out in the most spectacular bruises you can imagine. "Seriously," he said, "you say the word and I will get you away from him right now!". Of course I just burst out laughing and as EW came back we had to relate, for the first time, how I learned to jibe a boom. 

EW: And then the doctor asks her if she has a sister - cause he'd love to sail with a woman who is such a good sport! 


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