This past weekend I was invited to sail on my friends J105 named “Perfect Timing 2” in a twenty three mile race from Santa Barbara harbor to the oil drilling rigs and back. However, we were only able to get four people on our boat and the wind was blowing at a steady thirty knots. This combined with eight to ten foot seas was a recipe for disaster. So, we decided not to compete in the race. We did still want to go sailing, so we rigged the boat and motored out of the harbor. It was too windy to raise the main, so we dipped below the peer hoping to get in its wind shadow so we could hoist the main.
After we got the main up, we unfurled the jib and put the bow down on a beam reach. At first, there was little swell, but that all began to change the further out to sea we went. The waves got steadily larger as we sailed out, and the wind got stronger. Our boat speed was consistently peaking at sixteen knots and every time a wave came up behind us we would trim in our sails and surf the wave. A few times the bow of the boat would smash into the wave in front of us causing the bow to submerge and water to wash across the deck all the way to the stern where we were sitting.
We made it three quarters of the way to the rigs before we tacked and headed back to the harbor. The way back was upwind and against the swell, so it was slow and wet. Each wave slapped up against the side of the boat getting everyone soaked. A few times, a wave even managed to clear the rail and break on top of the boat.
By the time we got back to the harbor, we were soaking wet and exhausted. This was a reminder that sailing can get a little dicey, but it is still possible to get out there and have an amazing time with your friends. I am looking forward to the next time I get to go out in windy and wavy conditions.