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First overnight

Not sure if I can’t ever leave things alone, or if the Macgregor 26S we have actually needs all the mods and things I do to it, but every time we go out, we have new stuff. This time was no different.

Rigging Macgregor 26s

Rigging the boat.

I installed a 4″ PVC pipe on the front pulpit aka “Rocna Launcher”style for our Rocna anchor.  Originally using a 5 gallon bucket for the anchor rode,  I purchased a soft sided cooler last minute to store the rode in, as other Mac owners have done this. Good decision; the 5 gallon bucket was top heavy with the 40 feet of chain and probably would have fallen off the boat. I considered adding a second pipe for the Danforth anchor, but decided to use it as a stern anchor. In retrospect, this was wrong. I made some fishing rod hangers for inside the boat out of wood and those gear ties things made by NitIze to hold the fishing rods. Very functional and not too expensive. We added a second camping lantern so we’d have an anchor light, and also did some rigging modes using a CS Johnson quick release lever for the forestay. We also tightened all the rigging and stays. And finally, I installed a porta potti.

Weather called for 60F Friday night, then rain and dropping temps throughout the night. The wind would pick up to 15-20 on Saturday and the rain should stop about 9-10AM.

The Plan I decided on was to depart my house about 1530, launch about 1730, motor to a spot that I wanted to fish at, anchor out all night with fishing poles cast, eat Ramen for dinner, then sail off in the morning when the rain stopped. I’d haul out about 1600-1700 on Saturday.  Due to the colder temps and rougher weather, Susan almost didn’t go. I called up a guy from work but he ran late, Susan changed her mind, and we added additional food and blankets as needed.

What actually happened:

Things actually went according to plan all the way up till about 0100 on Saturday Morning. The wind picked up, which caused the waves to build. I’d dropped a bow anchor and a stern anchor to prevent our boat from swinging onto shore, and unfortunately, the wind and waves were on the stern. It was somewhat noisy and rough. I decided against moving the boat in the dark, and  simply tied the stern anchor to the bow. The boat swung around. I could now see that 1 cleat on the bow was not ideal, I really needed to add some kind of length markers on my anchor rode, and I needed bow chocks to keep the anchor rode from sliding up and down the deck and getting wrapped around other things. Technique wise, I had a forecast at my disposal but didn’t bother to consider the wind direction and underestimated the waves.  So we basically anchored stern to wind in an unprotected area. My bad.  However, now bow first into the waves, the boat settled down

I went back to bed. By 7AM the ride was rough once again. The boat was swinging left and right at times. I waited for Susan to wake up at 9 or so and we raised the anchors. At this point, I decided to add a second anchor pipe on the bow. When I raised the second anchor (originally the stern anchor) I now faced a pitching deck and no way to easily secure the anchor. It would have been much easier to just toss it in a pipe and leave it for the time being instead of carrying it back on the rolling deck. Noted.  We motored “around the corner” to a bay within a bay at the mouth of a half mile wide stream leading into Kentucky lake. This area was dead calm. With no depth sounder I tried using the anchor  instead, but had to estimate arm lengths! Either way, we anchored, waited until 1100 I think, weighed anchor and sailed off out into the lake with jib and reefed main.

Macgregor 26S Kentucky Lake

Roughish conditions on Kentucky Lake on our Macgregor 26S

Conditions had gotten considerably worse in the two hours and we were now headed into the waves and wind. Our sails, rudder, mast and overall rig combination and my inexperience was not working. Truth be told, things went from rough and wild to realizing that I was no longer in control. The poor balance of the rig was overpowering the rudder. I knew the jib had to come down but it was so rough I decided to drop all sail and motor back to the marina and call it a day. Family members were looking abit green, it was cold and spray from the waves was actually reaching the cockpit. With the sails down I was confident that the boat would handle the waves, but I still felt bad for family members inside. A final item noted for the future was that things must be put away prior to sailing. The cabin was a mess.

All in all, it taught me a lot. I will definitely be making some changes to the rig to balance it out a bit more and would like to tackle such conditions again, though perhaps calmer waters for some more experience first.

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