We’ll need to write a post about Blue Oak, and make some updates around the site, now that we no longer own Blue Nun, and have bought Blue Oak, a 1982 C&C 40-2 (centreboard). But I’m going to start with a trip report.
After an aborted sea trial the weekend previous (batteries were dead, bilge was full of water from a small leak in the keel area—careful when screwing in a bilge pump folks!), we arrived on the Monday of the long weekend to find our new boat in much better condition. We took it out for a quick sea trial; raised the sails, dropped the centreboard, etc. Then we set to work cleaning it up so we could live on it for the journey home. Forty years of accumulation, and ten years of gently benign neglect meant that we had our work cut out for us, sorting through all the stuff and making it livable. A couple of days later, it was ready enough.
Starting the trip
Our friends Todd and Niki were kind and crazy enough to take the journey with us, and they arrived on the 8:30am train to Belleville (having left home at 4am!). The arrived to pouring rain, and then had to walk 35mins to the marina. We got underway around 10am, in good spirits in spite of the rain.
Our plan was to sail through the Bay of Quinte to the Murray Canal, out Presqu’ile Bay, and out into Lake Ontario. First up was crossing under the Norris Whitney bridge. According to information found online, Blue Oak has a bridge clearance height of 58′, and the bridge is 75′. Therefore, that should be lots of room, but looking up from the boat, that was a scary moment—the entire time it looked like we’d hit…
Navigating through the Bay of Quinte it quite shallow, but the channel is well marked, and it shouldn’t have been any trouble. Well I (Les), missed a bouy, and ran aground in the mud. We tried to heel this massive boat through various means including crawling out to the end of the boom, and kedging attempts with the dinghy and anchor. When your boat has 8795 lbs of ballast in the keel, it takes a lot to heel it over. Then to our good fortune, the wind picked up, and we were able to pull out the jib, heel over, and sail right off. The rest of the Bay of Quinte was incident free, and after 2 hours of motoring, and 1 hour of being stuck in the mud, we made it to the entrance of the Murray Canal.
The Murray Canal
Going through the Murray Canal was such a neat experience, and felt so idyllic. First was the Carrying Place swing bridge. We radioed the operator, and she wanted us to just charge along at full speed and then opened the bridge at what felt like the last minute. Next was the Brighton swing bridge, where we dropped our $5.25 in a tin cup at the end of a long pole held by the bridge operator. Shortly after that we were out into Prequ’ile Bay, again was quite shallow, with the channel going the long way around.
A 95 mile sail to Bronte
Finally we made it out into the lake proper, and hoisted our sails. The sun was out, the wind was strong, there was a following sea off of our stern quarter, and we were flying, hitting a top speed of 8.4kn. The wind dropped a few times, but we never dropped below 5kn, and spent much of the afternoon about 7kn. Lake Ontario in May is still quite cold, and as the sun dropped towards the horizon, it started getting quite cool. Some chili warmed up on the propane stove hit the spot, with a small glass of wine alongside.
The first watch started at 9pm, taken by Todd and Niki. Linds and I went below for some shut-eye, only to be awoken around 11:30pm. The wind had picked up to 25kn sustained, and our evening assessment that a full mainsail (which is smaller on boats like that), proved to be totally incorrect. Todd and Niki had furled most of the jib, and Todd was still struggling to keep the boat from broaching (he hit 10.4kn!). And when a certified Yachtmaster with an Atlantic crossing under his belt is saying that, action is needed. We furled the rest of the jib, started the engine, came to wind, and dropped the mainsail. The seas were now 6′ waves, so I tethered myself to the base of the mast while I got the mainsail down and tied up; it felt like riding a wild horse up there.
Once the main was down, we pulled out a bit of jib, and the boat was completely different. Completely content to push through the waves, riding them easily, and going about 6.5kn. By that point I was wired, and Todd and Niki were tired (and so cold), so Linds and I started our watch early. After I took a turn on the helm, Linds took over, and I pulled up a sleeping bag, and slept in the cockpit for an hour. Then back on the helm while Linds went below to sleep and warm up. I had forgotten just how cold in can be on Lake Ontario at that time of year, and I had to keep constantly moving to keep from freezing. The rest of the night went smoothly, and we arrived at Bronte around 7am.
Back home, safe and sound
We traveled 115 nautical miles, over about 21 hours, for an average speed of 5.5kn (including getting stuck for an hour). The wind kept a pretty steady direction, and after all that sailing, we still have not ever tacked or gybed the boat! We love our new boat, and are excited for all the new projects. Stay tuned for a with more details about Blue Oak!