We arrived in St. Peters, Cape Breton on Friday last week and have been enjoying a week visiting with family, sailing and working. We took a mooring at the St. Peters Marina and spent Saturday and Sunday taking day sails into the Bras D'Or Lakes. Monday was a work day. On Tuesday we sailed up to Baddeck and have been here since, working and enjoying Baddeck.
When we are in Cape Breton, it is always fun to take family out on the boat for a day sail. Anchoring in a sheltered cove, barbequing something for lunch and then swimming off the boat is a favourite activity. Last Sunday we set out for such a day trip with Nancy and Gerry, my in-laws. The wind was favourable, so we slipped off the mooring under sail and headed into the Lakes, towing our dinghy, Ducky, behind. The wind was light, but we were in no hurry, so we were sailing along under jib alone, at about 2.5 to 3 knots. This was probably a good thing because we had forgotten to lift Ducky's outboard engine up out of the water.
Although I called to Jay, who was still coiling our mooring line on the bow, to pull in Ducky and lift the engine, I was too late. I watched helplessly as Ducky's engine snagged the really long float line on the pennant of a nearby mooring. Before Jay could move the length of the boat, the line snapped and the float, wrapped around Ducky's engine, floated out behind us. Jay pulled Ducky in and, even though we were still moving, he jumped into Ducky and lifted the engine. It took him only a few seconds to unwrap the float and rotting piece of line from around Dcky's engine. So there was Jay sitting in Ducky, being towed along, holding onto the now rescued float. "We should reattach it," I called to Jay. He agreed and suggested that if I untied the dinghy he would motor back and reattach the float, then catch up to us. After all, with only the jib out and in light winds it should be easy to catch up.
There was a small wrinkle in this plan as he had jumped into Ducky without the red cord that is needed to start the engine, and now he was trailing 30 feet behind us, the dinghy having floated out as soon as he had jumped inside. I told him to hold on, as I readjusted the foresail to compensate for a wind shift and I grabbed the red cord. By pulling on the line tethering Ducky to the boat, he pulled close enough so I could hand him the red cord. I then untied Ducky and set Jay and our little inflatable dinghy free.
Jay's mother seemed to handle with aplomb the fact that I had just set her son adrift in the dinghy behind us and we were beginning to rapidly sail away from him as the breeze freshened. Jay did get the engine started and motored back to the mooring ball to fish the long pendant out of the water and reattach the float. Noticing how much distance we were putting between us, I decided to tack around and start sailing back towards Jay, not sure he would be able to easily catch up otherwise, as we have never tried mid water transfers under sail before.
I, for one, was thankful that we were under jib alone, making the sails easier to singlehand. Jay finished tying the float on to the mooring pennant and started motoring back toward us. Now the trick was to get Ducky reattached and Jay back aboard while under sail. Luckily Jay was thinking more clearly than I was as he suggested I heave to. I did so, backwinding the foresail and keeping the rudder hard over so that the force of the wind and the rudder effectively stopped the boat, keeping it in one place. Jay motored up, handed me Ducky's towline and climbed aboard. Within minutes Ducky was secured, with the engine lifted this time, and we released the sail and resumed sailing. Two mid-water transfers completed, with one of them under sail!
The rest of the day was perfect. We sailed leisurely to Cape George Harbour where we anchored, grilled lunch, played cards, swan and lazed in the sun. What a beautiful day!