Bolero's Maiden Voyage

Early on Sunday I headed out to Bolero to finish a few things that I need to do so that she was ready to sail. My tasks went pretty well so I headed over to where I keep my dinghy and rowed her out to our buoy with a friend's dinghy. All set for the afternoon sail I headed home for lunch.

I planned to cast off around 1:00 but I ran into a few rigging glitches and a wind problem. The final rigging issues were easily fixed but the wind direction was problematic. I had paddle Bolero from the travel lift dock on Saturday to one of the South facing finger piers. It was a great location to sail off the dock for our typical SW wind. The problem on Sunday was that our forecast was for 5 to 15 kts out of the N. Often when we get a 5 to 15 forecast that, more often than not, means calm to 5 kts. Well not today. The wind was really coming up from the W with gust from the NW. This meant that I couldn't easily raise the sails and have them luff while I prepared to cast off. I had a few ideas going through my head when my friend Craig happened by and provided just what I needed, an extra pair of hands. Craig could now play both the bow and stern lines holding Bolero to the dock while letting the stern fall of a bit. This enabled me to raise the main and jib and clean up. It actually went fine and in hindsight we could have done it ourselves. But I think this is one of the challenges I find sailing engineless, the first launching of a new boat. So I appreciated the extra hands.

Here is a plot of the 10 nautical mile maiden voyage of Bolero.



We initially headed South, staying in the bay, to get a feel for Bolero and remove fenders, dock lines and clean up the cockpit. It didn't take long, however, and we knew we were going to head out of the bay and check the ole girl out. With the wind from the North we need to tack our way out the bay, a most unusual occurrence. Being on our way to a high tide this was easy, although Bolero's rigging was far from tuned correctly.

Once outside of the channel I went to work tension up the shrouds, forestay, outhaul and backstay. It took three of four tacks to snug things up but I still have much more of this once we get to know our new boat.

Of course we ran into Eric sailing my old Bluenose Sloop. He was sailing with a friend who was taking pictures the whole time. We were even asked to position ourselves so he could get just the photo he was looking for. Hopefully I will be posting these photos soon.

Sailing alongside my old Bluenose a few things became clear. First the increased stability of the larger Bolero with her heavier ballast ratio and the slightly lower SA/D of Bolero with respect to the Bluenose. With the wind around 15 kts Eric elected to tuck in the first reef and mentioned his surprise that we hadn't. Since we don't have the reefing setup that wasn't an option but we never felt overpowered in any way only burying the rail a few times.

Second, upwind we were faster and could out point the Bluenose. No surprise here with our extra length and inboard jib leads.

As we fell off the speed increase seemed to lessen. Some of this may have been my inexperience with Bolero but the inboard sheet leads started to be a handicap on reach. And down wind with Eric polling out his Genoa (still reefed) we seemed only a bit faster.

All in all we had a blast sailing besides our old boat. Eric has done a great job refinishing her for this season and she looked great. I had never really seen her from the outside looking in and it was a joy since she is such a beauty.

Here are some additional first impression of sailing Bolero
Where the Bluenose seemed quick, fast, agile and fragile Bolero seems powerful and strong. Although she is going faster than the Bluenose she doesn't feel as fast. That said, Bolero is very, very maneuverable with a lot of rudder authority. I must admit that the sloppy steering I got away with on the Bluenose caused pretty severe course changes on Bolero.

I have a lot to learn about sailing to get the most out of this new boat. The controls on the Bluenose were very basic. Bolero has, or will have, most of the modern sail controls. In addition since she does everything a bit faster my decisions need to catch up. I am committed to spending as much time on the water as it takes.

All in all we had a great afternoon sail and hope to go out again in the light wind forecasted for today.