Cindy at the Helm

A view down C-dock from the top of our bimini

A view down C-dock from the top of our bimini

It seems that opportunities to take Beatitude for a day out on the water are few and far between. But on Tuesday of this week, Cindy and I decided to go sailing. It was a beautiful March day with a high in the low to mid-80s and plenty of sunshine.

Cindy at the helm leaving the marina.

Cindy at the helm leaving the marina.

At 4'10", a little help is needed to see over the helm station.  We'll have to see about a more sturdy solution to the problem.

At 4’10”, a little help is needed to see over the helm station. We’ll have to see about a more sturdy solution to the problem.

Exiting the mouth of the Manatee River with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the background

Exiting the mouth of the Manatee River with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the background

One of our goals over the next one and a half to two years is to get Cindy comfortable with handling the boat. We both took and passed ASA sailing courses 101-104, but Cindy has had far less time and experience behind the wheel. Up until now, I’ve been at the helm and handled the vessel while she assisted. So, this day we started with Cindy helping me prepare to leave our slip at the Marina: Sails were prepared, navigations instruments turned on, and we decided which lines to release first as we left the slip. I let her take the wheel as we were leaving and she piloted us down the Manatee River to the Bay. As best we could, we played reverse roles throughout the day, with Cindy doing the jobs I would normally do and with me doing the jobs she normally does.

There was less than 2 knots of wind upon reaching the Bay, so there would be little sailing, but we did practice raising the mainsail. She pointed Beatitude’s nose into the wind and raised the sail while I stood atop the bimini to make sure the battens did not catch on the lazyjacks.

Looking up the mast and into the sun.

Looking up the mast and into the sun.

Perhaps the best investment yet for our new lifestyle: Steps which we bought primarily for getting aboard, but also double  (as seen here) to step up on the salon roof and bimini to manage the mainsail.

Perhaps the best investment yet for our new lifestyle: Steps which we bought primarily for getting aboard, but also double (as seen here) to step up on the salon roof and bimini to manage the mainsail.

Given complete calm, we shut down the engines and floated aimlessly in the middle of Tampa Bay for a couple of hours. This gave us adequate time to enjoy a delicious lunch of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. Soon, it was time to return home. Cindy lowered the sail, fired up the engines and brought us home. She gained some valuable experience with the GPS and autopilot. Her confidence has been raised a notch or two. By the time we are ready to sail away in 21 months, I feel confident that she will be competent at the wheel.

Sunset through masts and forestays back in the marina.

Sunset through masts and forestays back in the marina.

Dinnertime!  Asian marinated chicken on the grill, grilled corn on the cob and a spring salad.  (Of course, with a nice bottle of French wine.)

Dinnertime! Asian marinated chicken on the grill, grilled corn on the cob and a spring salad. (Of course, with a nice bottle of French wine.)

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