Saturday turned out to be a sunny if a bit hazy and humid day. The winds at Hinuma don't pick up until late morning, so we agreed to be ready to launch at 10:30. We arrived about 9:40 so as to have time to prepare Bluesette.
The wind was very light still, but there was enough to get under way. Ideal for the first time out really.
Here is Bluesette on her "sendai" ready for launch. The man on the right is Tadanori Hakuta, who built the yacht harbor 37 years ago. On the left is his son. Mrs. Hakuta runs the office up in the clubhouse.
In the picture above, the rudder is shown on the boat, but we removed it so we wouldn't have to worry about it striking the ground during launch - it easily slid back into its bracket after the boat was on the water. The sails were ready to raise.
Walking Bluesette to the water. The bowline and a line on the sendai are attached to a winch.
She floats! Where's the champagne and brass band? OK, a Yebesu beer and a trombone player?
Bluesette was walked out to a lower portion of the dock where we boarded, attached the rudder and raised the sails.
K and I spent about an hour sailing with Mr. Hakuta. Soon the wind picked up a bit and gave us some speed. Other sailboats - Sea Hoppers and Lasers - took to the water as well. This was K's first time sailing and she learned to handle the jib. I got good sailing advice from Mr. Hakuta and we practiced docking.
Then K and I dropped Hakuta-san off and went out on our own. Around noon, the wind was up to five or so knots and K was surprised at how fast Bluesette could go. Nice breeze, but not too much for our first day out. It was a good "shakedown" cruise and we learned of a number things we need to do differently and adjustments that are needed on the boat. Several fishing boats were out too and no doubt having a good day as we saw a lot of fish of varying sizes jumping out of the water - bora (striped mullet) and suzuki (a kind of sea bass). Due to the close proximity to the ocean, lake Hinuma has a mix of both freshwater and saltwater fish.
We decided to take a lunch break, so returned to the dock. Easier said than done as the wind direction was not as favorable as it had been earlier. Hinuma is a very shallow lake - average depth 2 meters (about 6 1/2 feet) and at the dock only about 1 meter (39 inches). With the centerboard down, Bluesette draws 53 inches (1.35 meters). That means we have to raise the centerboard about half way in order to be sure of clearing the bottom. The problem is that when we do that, the boat tends to drift sideways, making maneuvering to the dock a little tricky. Not impossible, just something to practice. And as Hakuta-san pointed out, the water is only 1 meter deep, so if all else fails, one can lower the sails, jump in the water, and WALK the boat in!
We left Bluesette tied up at the end of the dock and went over to Mama's Kitchen (the restaurant described in the post "Finding A Home"). You may not believe this, but I swear it is the truth: When we walked into Mama's Kitchen there was a nice CD playing featuring a female jazz vocalist...
The song? Bluesette! Coincidence? You decide.
K had a ham sandwich on a bagel, I opted for cold angel hair pasta with basil. We both got to use the salad bar and my lunch came with this dessert, which we shared:
Then it was back to the boat for more sailing. We checked in at office and told them we would be back around 15:00. This would allow them to get the sendai ready when we came back, or come looking for us if we didn't. Actually, one of the great things about the club is that they have a log book for boaters to leave a plan on where they will be going and when they expect to return. Sort of like the flight plans I used to phone into the FAA as a pilot. The club house has an excellent view of the lake, and Hakuta-san has binoculars with which he scans the lake. If he sees someone coming in, he goes down to the ramp, or if he sees someone in trouble, he'll come out on a PWC (jet ski) or another power boat to render assistance.
The wind was still good and there was a race on with several Lasers, practicing for official Laser National races to be held next weekend. (There are 3 types of Laser sailboats actually, and can't tell them apart easily unless they are side by side.)
We had our share of mistakes and minor mishaps, but that's what a shakedown sail is all about.
Mostly, we just had fun.
After my shower, we enjoyed a cool drink in the clubhouse - orange juice for K, mugicha for me (barley tea - my favorite) - and chatted with the Hakutas about our day before heading for home.
Until next, sweet sailing.