August 25, 2015

boat on bank

Today promised to be a capital sailing day--but it was not to be so. The river currents are down well below the levels that bother me. Here's the flow on the Ohio River: 4,290 cubic feet per second.

Ohio Flow

The temperature will be around 70F and it will be cloudy, so there's no hot sun to bother me on deck. In the forecast, the winds are building to a pretty steady 10 mph from the West, perhaps veering slightly WNW. Here's the morning forecast:

Click for larger.

By 2pm the weather reports were showing actual conditions of wind of about 10mph from the West, exactly as forecast. So I packed my sailing gear, loaded the bicycle and headed off. I stopped here and there to measure the wind. It was gusty, but mostly in the 5-10 mph range.

When I arrived at the Newport marina, a large barge was powering downstream. Here is it, seen over my little boat, stored under a tarpaulin on the river bank.


However, when I went out on the marina's dock, I could see whitecaps on the water. I did not want a repeat of my last sail. Then I'd set off and got caught in much to much wind. It was unpleasant.

What followed was nearly an hour of dithering. I'd watch the whitecaps and think "no sail." Then they'd disappear and I'd think "sail." I started to rig the boat and eventually got it into the water:

in water

Then I walked and pulled it out the to end of the dock. This is shortly after 4pm.

at dock

I was ready to go. But there were the whitecaps again. I looked back at the bushes on the riverbank. The winds were turning the undersides of the leaves over.


Enough. I didn't want to dither any more. And I didn't want to get into the trouble I met on my last sail. So I went through the long exercise of undoing everything and putting the boat back on the riverbank.

Coming home and checking the report of actual conditions, I found that the winds had picked up to 12-15 mph from the WNW. It was more than forecast, but perhaps I could have still had a good sail. I spend the rest of the afternoon second guessing myself. Had I been too prudent? I went for a nice run up the trails on the Allegheny River, where the wind was blustery and bad for sailing. There were periods of calm and then gusts in odd directions.

John D. Norton


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