The Pearson Lark 24 saga. Winter sailing.
I did it again.
For weeks I looked and bid on boats on eBay. I lost a Cal 25 for a mere 5$ bid placed a minute before closing. Once I set my heart on a Person Lark 24, I knew what I had to do. I was not about to be had again. I sat in a café in front of my laptop, patiently waiting for the last minute. Afraid that somehow I’d miss my chance.
The last bid was 590$. It had held there for two days. The bids had stopped and people were waiting for the last minute.
Two minutes before closing, I tried to bid but my computer connection was jammed. Fortunately, I had the phone ready. I entered the eBay website, logged in, and barely had time to hit the bid button. I slipped-in less than a minute before the end. I got the sailboat for 595$!
The boat was in Westport Connecticut and it had to be moved before April 27. That gave me 10 days to drive eight hours and sail it 150 kilometers to Block Island. The weather was resolutely winterish. Most days the temperatures barely made it above freezing. Worse, the winds were strong and on the nose until the April 25. Afterwards, the forecast called for northwesterly winds in the 20s, knots that is.
Jean Jacques had volunteered to come and sail the boat in the cold weather. He’s my spearfishing partner. He had never sailed but he’d been on the ocean enough to know what he was getting into. I told him to bring his winter camping gear and to dress for an arctic expedition.
We left Montreal at three forty five in the morning. I had to drive to Westport early enough to see the boat, go to registrations and complete the purchase. I knew that the very next morning I had to be on the water at sunrise if I wanted to get to Block in the next days. I couldn’t risk not making it in one trip.
When I got to Cedar Point Marina in Westport, the boat was in the water already. All the sailing gear was in good order, but the interior was covered in mold, and the deck was soft all over. I had expected as much and the idea was to use the boat for the summer, as is. Chlorine and paint could get rid of the mold, and the deck could be repaired easily if I did not mind the esthetics, which I didn’t.
It was so cold and the mold was so bad that we decided not to sleep on the boat that night. I was exhausted from the drive and the waking up in the middle of the night. We couldn’t afford to be too tired before we even started to sail. We went to a motel in Fairfield and raided the grocery store.
The next morning we got on the boat at eight. We wore our warmest clothing and set sail. Everything was new. I had no idea if the boat was seaworthy.
The sails were in good shape. Everything worked great. The wind blew twenty miles per hour. The boat glided easily to a speed of five and a half mile per hour. I expected this to be the hull speed for the Mold Minnow, but I later got it to an easy six and a half.
The rudder was a little difficult to hold in higher winds. The weather helm was a bit tiring but there was not much I could do about it. For one thing, the main sail has no reefing lines.
By the end of the afternoon, the wind reached twenty five, then thirty miles per hour. The boat handled it well but the clouds loomed and the wind kept increasing.
We reached the Clinton Marina with very dark skies behind us. The wind exceeded thirty five miles per hour; well above what I could use. We docked the in the closed marina and walked in town. During the night the wind blew in the forties and it rained some.
The next morning we sailed out at seven, but the winds were too strong. The gusts were in the forties, so I decided to head back to shore. We docked at the Brewer Pilots Point Marina, not even two miles west of Clinton. We headed into town for breakfast and hoped the winds would die down a bit.
At ten, we were back on the water. The winds were very strong but we could manage them with the jib. When they slowed down to twenty five and the gusts were less threatening, I raised the main sail. The boat was flying. Jean Jacques got quite a ride for his first sailing adventure. The GPS indicated we were moving eight miles per hour; which is impossible on a twenty four foot keeler without the current.
I studied the mast to see if it was about to give out. It held straight throughout. The boat did not seem to mind the high winds. I only whished it had some sort of heater. The winter clothing was barely enough to keep us from becoming hypothermic.
We reached Fisher Island at three; early enough to make it to Block Island. We rounded the island and headed 120 degrees. We could see the island twenty three miles away.
The wind was not a little more manageable but the swell was impressive. Up and down we went. Fortunately they were smooth mountains of water. Some swells looked rather steep but none were close to breaking. Since the wind held, the boat was rather stable and saved us from being seasick.
It was past sunset by the time we reached the New Harbor entrance. The swell did not reach the breakwater and the water inside the bay was flat.
We celebrated our save voyage at the Poor Man’s Café.
The next morning I had to leave the boat behind so I could go back to work. It’s anchored and waiting for my return.