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Captain Log ID: 109
Title: Downwind to Comox
Boat Name(Id): Kowloon Jade ( 8)
Sailor Name(Id): Oliver Cobb ( 32)
Geo Region: Vancouver Island
Date of Occurance: 2001-09-28
Latitude: N 49º   40.2'
Longitude: W 124º   49.799'
Sender (if email-in): ocobb@NO_SPAM
Earlier log from "Kowloon Jade":  104
Newer log from "Kowloon Jade":  
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Friday 28 September

We got away early this morning 0700 when we slipped the dock lines and
the solemn drumbeat of the Gardner echoed back at us off the walls of
the boathouses in the gloomy dawn. It was the first time we had  been
under way in darkness, and I turned on the running lights--- they look
so brave and  authoritative, red to port, green to starboard. My boat
approacheth-- beware and make way!

An hour out, and there was enough wind for sailing at last-- still
from the southeast-- nearly dead astern. The forecast was  for  cloudy
skies with sunny breaks, winds from 15-25 in Ballenas Channel,
moderating in the afternoon. I hoisted the sails and  Kowloon Jade
surged ahead with a bone in her teeth. The GPS said we were doing 6
miles per hour. It was 0815 and Comox was sixty odd nautical miles

By 1000 the wind had increased and I was a little dubious. Part of me
wondered about putting a reef in the main. Naaahh, I decided-- let’s
roll with it. But the jib seemed to be doing little-- blanketed by the
main it was not full and drawing. I thought since the wind was so
nearly dead astern that maybe I could wing the jib out on the opposite
side with the whiskerpole, so I had Mare steer from the wheelhouse and
went up on the bow to try and set the whiskerpole. I was unable to do
it the way Fred had said, by sticking the outer end of the tapered
pole through the eye of the clew. It didn’t fit because the shackle
that held the jib sheets was attached there and there wasn’t room for
the tip of the whiskerpole. So then I thought, well, maybe I can go
back to the technique I had used before-- tying a snap shackle to the
end of the whiskerpole with light line, and the clipping the shackle
through the eye of the clew.  So I  tried to do that, but in the
strong winds the sail was flogging badly, and I needed to hold on with
one hand. In an instant the  snap shackle, hooked onto the clew, was
dragged out of my hands, and the whiskerpole dropped over the side.

I left the jib to flog and leaped back to the cockpit.
”Ready about!” I hollered to Marion. “The whiskerpole’s overboard,
gotta go get it.”

 I put the helm over and backwinded the main, but the boat proceeded
stubbornly on her way-- I  couldn’t make her come through the eye of
the wind. Rather than fall off and gain speed before trying again I
brought the stern around instead, jibing clumsily. Back on a
reciprocal we went, it took me a minute to spot the pole, and another
to realise that we couldn’t reach it without coming about or jibing
again. The swells were rolling us severely-- the wind was blowing at
least twenty knots, and I briefly considered  just abandoning the
attempt at retrieval. But then I felt that would be too lame for
words, so I jibed  her around again  and managed to  come up to the
pole, grabbed it out of the water on the lee side of the cockpit
while Marion steered, and  fell off on a broad reach once more.

Ballenas Islands were  astern by now, and we were running free. I got
the jib winged out to starboard, and although it occasionally flapped
as we topped a swell, most of the time it carried the force of the
wind and translated it into speed ahead. We were making well over
seven miles per hour now, and I hung on to the tiller while Marion
huddled in the wheelhouse.

She kept calling out   to me-- “Aren’t you cold?”

But I wasn’t. I was a little  scared but it was good fear. I had
wanted wind all week; now I had it and I was going to sail this boat
home  no matter what.

 By 1300 we were abeam of French Creek. Safety lay in there, but I was
feeling good about the boat now-- she was shipping no water, it wasn’t
raining, I was warm in my oilskins and toque and fisherman’s hat, so I
just   ate the sandwich Marion handed out to me and let her roll on.

The clouds increased-- the patches of blue we had been seeing  to the
south of us diminished and finally a louring black sky rolled  toward
us, bearing  unmistakable rain.  By this time my arms were sore from
conning the boat-- the pressure on the tiller was enormous when  the
swells lifted us up, and it was only by constant adjustments to the
lateral forces that I was able to maintain a heading. The seas  swept
past us with a weird hissing sound, like ripping silk, and  although
we only shipped green water once, it was quite rough enough for me. I
need to build up to this ocean passage stuff gradually, I think, with
the  first few cruises within sight of good old terra firma.

 Am I a wuss or what, I thought to myself. I have read all the books,
where the author is alone and has been alone for 60 days and the
barometer has dropped to 820 millibars and the inky night is rife with
hurricane force winds that  raise greybeards sixty feet in height,
towering impossibly over his frail craft as he drives her hard over a
quartering sea---- just as the rain begins in earnest we   draw abeam
of Chrome Island Lighthouse. In another half hour we   move around the
shoulder of the southern tip of Denman island and the southeast wind
is cut in half. We still are making five to six miles per hour
according to the Garmin, but the rolling ceases and steering is  easy
once more.

The rest of the trip up Baynes Sound is a  walk in the park--  as we
get within six miles of Comox Harbor I hook up the autohelm and come
inside. We light a fire in the wood heater and have tea, and sit there
shoulder to shoulder in the cozy wheelhouse, looking out at the bad
weather and the grey seas and the familiar shoreline sliding past as
though it were happening in a movie.  I feel a huge satisfaction  in
having sailed all the way-- we  make the dock in Comox a little after
1700-- a respectable time  of ten and a quarter hours to cover nearly
70  nautical miles under sail.

In the light drizzle we pack our gear off the boat and up to the truck
and come home.  It’s good to be back. That night I have my first
nightmare  ever about Kowloon Jade-- in my dream I see her   tied up
sunk at the wharf, straining at her dock lines, water nearly covering
the coachroof.

Saturday I return to town to check on her, but she’s riding normally,
her bilges dry. Ready for anything.