Topic: So, a funny thing happened on the way to the bar...
This weekend, as anyone on Lake Ontario knows, was not an ideal sailing weekend. It was cold. It was windy (48 knot gusts on 35 knot steady winds) and, depending on where you were, wavey.
Winds were NW, so the North edge of the lake was spared the waves. The southern shore wasn't quite so lucky, with 1-2 meter waves. I know these aren't huge, but they can be unpleasant, especially when they're sporting foamy tops like they were this weekend.
My new Alberg 29 is located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake yacht club, pending a nice sail across the lake. For those who have been anywhere near Niagara-on-the-Lake or Youngstown, you know there's a shoal at the mouth of the river, formed by silt being deposited as the water slows down entering the lake. It's called the Niagara Bar. Further, there is an intereresting current in the river - more lumpy than simply moving water. None of this, of course, bothers me.
On Saturday we attempted to sail the Alberg home. I am still trying to get used to the strange, distant, hydraulic wheelsteering, which is so much less responsive than a Contessa tiller. Over the bar the NW wind pushing past the opposing current raised some hellishly steep froth, and coupled with the sudden decrease in depth, resulted in water that, for the first time in my sailing life, significantly scared me. It wasn't the height of the waves (around 3 meters) it was the steepness. They were like walls of water. I've never experienced anything like it in my life.
After about 15 minutes of trying to battle through this, of burying not just the bow, but the forward part of the cabintop up to the mast, I decided I'd had enough, and turned about and took her back to the yacht club, where she still lays. Hopefully this weekend will be more favourable for the trip. At least it will be warmer. It snowed not far form here this weekend...
I would like to say that the Alberg 29 pleased me to no end in these conditions. She is, in every way, a seriously seaworthy boat. Like a giant Contessa 26, really. I had concerns about moving away from a boat I trust so much to an unknown quantity, but this experience totally put me at ease in her seakeeping abilities.
The experience also reminded me of the importance of a harness - which I wasn't wearing. After dropping off one ledge of water and finding myself only attached to the boat by the deathgrip I had on the wheel, I am going to purchase an inflatable PFD with integral harness at some point this week, and not sail without such in the future.