Winter is over! It’s sailing time on Lake Ontario

On Saturday April 24 my sailing club (Harbourfront Centre Sailing and Powerboating) held a boat work party and first sail of the year event. I got there in the morning and throughout the day we prepared our J24 fleet for sail. Sometime after 2pm the fleet was ready to go and we were all eager to get on the water and there was a good strong wind. Luckily for me and this blog post one of the volunteers Ramy brought his camera and awesome photo skills to the work party.

A group of us preping one of the J boats.

The experience gained was invaluable and if you are a beginner like me you will learn a lot from an event like this, or even helping someone with their boat. Helping out will also make you feel great.

Me attaching the boom to the gooseneck on the mast

sorting sails

Sorting out the sails.

Adjusting the shroud tension.

Adjusting shroud tension.

Everything from sorting out the sails, removing shrink wrap from the boats and checking and adjusting shroud tension was done. We even stepped the mast of Defiance, the one J without a mast. This involved lining up two other J24′s on both sides and using their halyards to hoist the mast into the air from horizontal to vertical. It was almost like two cranes on either side of the boat. It was amazing how fast we got it up and fastened. The standing rigging was quickly set up, this included the forestay, backstay, and upper and lower shrouds. The speed at which everything came together really was impressive, but we had a great team of people to make things happen.

j24 boats

6 J24 boats almost ready to go!

Time to sail

It was finally time to test out the boats and see if our efforts would pay off. None of the J24 fleet had motors though, so each one was towed out into the harbour and my group quickly raised the sails while being dragged head to wind. Within moments our tow line was untied and we were sailing. The wind was strong, and it was cold. The day was beautiful on land, but I had not dressed properly for the temperature on the lake and I was cold within minutes.

sailing lake ontario cold

Finally on the lake, do I look cold?

Soon the wind really picked up and we had to take down our genoa and replace it with the jib. I volunteered for the job and crawled up to the bow. There was quite a bit of chop and it didn’t take long for a wave to splash up and hit me. After a few minutes up front I was really wet and very cold, but I got the genoa down and the jib up, and it was a much smoother ride from then on. I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the cold and have vowed to wear a winter wind breaker next time. Little did I know that next time would only be several days later.

On Thursday April 29th I went out with Clive my instructor from the Guadeloupe trip to finish a few tests for my intermediate sailing certification. We took out the 35 foot Niagara. It was my first time on this fine boat, and I loved every minute of it. Everything inside was warm wood finishes and it was very cozy. Outside there was a cool breeze, but this time I had my fleece and a winter windbreaker on (lesson learned). The sail went perfect, and Birgit and I both passed all our tests that we didn’t get a chance to do in Guadeloupe. Now all I have to do is write the written exam.

wind and sail

Wind and Sail.

To see the rest of Ramy’s photos or if you need a photographer check out the rest of his gallery and his site Bright Lights Photography.

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