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While those of us in the Northern Climates have been battling frigid weather and abnormally high snowfalls, some of our fellow C380lA members have been out and about doing things that we could only dream about. The following is a story sent to me by our members Don and Ruthann Brown. They sail Kolonahe, C380, #236, out of the Kaneohe Yacht Club on Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. I think that means "Gentle Wind" if my Polynesian is up to snuff.

Ruthann and Don where out for a cruise on board Kolonahe. (They seem to have taken the Commodore at his word and started 2010, the "Year of the Cruise" doing just that!) The story goes they were out for a sail on a beautiful, warm day with calm seas and a nice steady breeze. (Are there any other kind of days in the Hawaiian Islands?) Ruthann decided to drop her fishing line over the side with the captain holding a nice beam reach in the gentle but steady breeze. The captain and crew had just finished their annual man overboard drill successfully and where reviewing their tactics. (We all do this on our first or second time out at the beginning of the season, right?) The fishing line trailed nicely behind the boat. Ruthann was checking their new charts against their old ones looking for new marks or danger spots. Don had already checked that their chart plotter and radar had all of the latest updates before leaving the docks. Still, the line trailed behind the boat. The captain made sure that he and Ruthann applied fresh sunscreen. (Sunscreen and other medical supplies deteriorate over time in their containers. They should be examined for expiration dates and any breakdown in their packaging.) They had bought fresh sunscreen and other supplies to replenish their medical kits.

They took turns at the wheel each doing their "what if" exercises. What if this happened to you, what would I do? Would they make the right call on the VHF? Mayday? Pan Pan? What is our position? Where is the closest port? Had they filed a float plan? Could they get help? (The United States Power Squadrons® offers a class called Skipper Saver designed to answer these questions.) And still the line trailed behind the boat.

Lunch time came and went and they checked the operation of their VHF and GPS, including their spare handhelds. They now keep the spares in the oven since reading Steve Dublin's tale of a direct lightning strike. All were in working order. (The crew knew that radio checks were never done on Channel 16, they only wished other boater's knew that.) The light breeze held steady and Don thought now would be a good time to practice reefing the sails. First the main and then the jib. Better to master this in light winds when it is really blowing. (Remember the old saying,"If you think it's time to reef, you probably already should have.") That exercise successfully completed, they shook out the reef and continued on. All the while, the line trailed the boat.

The afternoon was passing by when they heard a whining noise. It grew to a shriek! The rod was moving up and down. Don grabbed the rod, Ruthann the wheel and the fight was on! They worked like the team they are and after a time, they started to reel the big one in. They brought their trophy along side. Picture one is their proof. Ruthann said, "Don, what are we going to do now?" Don replied, "We could, of course, send its blubber to Commodore Joe!" They thought awhile and then said in unison, "Nah, he already is full of blubber.Llet's just get our hook and let him go." And that is how they got picture two, from a grateful Humpback!

Well, that is not exactly how Don and Ruthann tell the story, but we had 80 inches of snow this year. When you are a dentist people will cancel for almost any reason and so I had a lot of time to think about the upcoming season. Thank you to Ruthann and Don for the pictures that pushed me off of my writer's block and especially for being such good sports and letting me use some (some?) poetic license. The real story is, they were watching the Humpback whale migration as these creatures came down from Alaskan waters to spawn and frolic!

I hope that you will take some time to examine, maintain and practice safe boating habits for the safety and enjoyment of yourself, crew and fellow boaters. Get a free vessel safety check from the United States Power Squadrons® or Coast Guard Auxiliary. Take a class or offer to help with one and share your knowledge. One other thing you can do this year is take a non-sailor out for a sail. Give him /her some simple instruction and let them take the wheel. Watch their face. Does it get any better than this?

Stay tuned for our next issue. Hopefully we will have some real stories about cruises. You never know what kind of blubbering will show up in this space next. Enjoy your time on the water and enjoy life!

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