Columbus Day Tribute
You could see the wind approaching by the patches of darkened ripples and tiny whitecaps on the lake surface. When it hit, the spray hit our faces and the boat heeled over until the whitecaps splashed into the cockpit. We flew across the water, seemingly in pace with the skittering clouds overhead. The dogs slid against the sides of the cockpit. The sound of scrabbling played a duet with the windsounds. There was no purchase for their lenghty claws in the smooth fiberglass. I took to bracing them with my legs and arms when I saw the wind approaching. They shivered.
At the first strong heel, one of the dogs went overboard. He was just behind my back, so I did not see what happened, though it felt he just decided to jump. The dogs are good swimmers, so I was not too worried, but I did not want him to be frightened.
We went into our first "man overboard" drill. Circle back. No, that doesn't work because the dog kept swimming towards a moving target and we both end up circling each other. At last, the circling worked moderately well because the boat eventually slowed to stop as we were facing the wind. We got the dog back into the boat wthin minutes. We knew, though, that we need to get much better at the 'man overboard' maneuver. We should have simply turned to the wind and dropped the sails; one of us at the tiller and one scrambling foreward to untie the main halyard. Just stoppped. Forget circling back - that's how one retreives a downed waterskier. Next time we'll do better, kowning of course, there will be a next time. I put on my lifejacket. For the first time ever I think, John put on his, too. I am going to order two doggy life preservers.
We were the only sailboat we could see from this part of the lake. Pity. What a day for it! The surrounding hills and mountains were vibrating with "peak" autumn display. At Wiers Beach, hundreds of tourists lined up for the Mount Washington ("scenic boat tours") and the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. But few dared the lake on their own. I guess the people who owned boats on the lake had already packed up for the season. How shortsighted. Though at an air tempurature high of 55 degrees F, and water tempurature at just under 60 degrees F at the surface, I would not go swimming for fun, the day was still a gift to experience. Don't they realize that in a few short months this lake will be so frozen people will drive trucks across it? Where is the lust for discovery and new challenges that stirred Christopher Columbus?