Opeongo Lake Day 2 - East Arm (Continued)
All three boats reefed sails and set off on the return trip to our camp site under a darkening sky filled with dark rain clouds, but at least they were not thunder heads. Once we left the relatively protected bay where we beached and reached open water, we were battered by 3-feet waves dotted with white caps and occasional 20 knot gusts. It was manageable but a bit exhausting with the frequent wind shifts. Soon we were separated, with John's CL-16 leading, my Hen in the middle and Greg's Let-It-Be in the rear, each abut half a mile apart. Just as I was wondering how much longer my arms would hold up clutching the main sheet, we heard distress whistle in Greg's direction. I turned around to investigate and informed John on the radio, and was alarmed to see Greg's boat disappearing under the waves! With relatively low free-board, the large waves were washing overboard his boat and rapidly swarming it. By the time we reached his boat, only the bow was above water.
Recovering Greg's Boat
I lowered all sails and turned on the motor to circle Greg's boat while we assessed how to recover it. It was impossible to bail out the water with the wind and waves, so we tied a line to the bow and tried to tow it to shore. With the boat mostly under water, it was like a sea anchor and my puny 4-horse motor was impossible to make any headway. Finally I raised all sails and with the motor running, we were able to make progress towards a sandy shore down-wind.
Safely at Shore
We radioed John to recover all the floating accessories that got loose from Greg's boat. A couple (facing the camera) who later introduced themselves as fellow sailors, saw what happened from a distance in their canoe, and paddled around to render assistance.
Miraculously, nothing was damaged and not a single item was lost from Greg's boat. After some rest, it was already 3:30PM. The sky was still dark with rain, but we decided that if we did not get started, there was a real risk that we would get stranded with night-fall. Fortunately the wind had subsided somewhat, and John's crew, Peter, was asked to join Greg to provide better balance. John was to single-hand his CL. The weather was totally different within an hour - clearing sky with moderate wind, and it turned out to be a pleasant sail.
Crossing the East Arm into the South Arm
Making this crossing is a bit tricky. There's narrow stretch of water between the two arms, littered with submerged boulders and shallows, and having to sail against the wind and tacking within this 10-meter channel is a challenge.
Once into the South Arm the wind and waves picked up again, but just enough to make it an exciting sail. We reached our camp site by 7:00PM.
That is what sailing is all about - challenge the elements, work with nature, and push one's limits, and team work!