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Today was a very interesting day on the Woodwind. We had a team building for the first 2 cruises and then 2 public sails afterwards. One of those public cruises was the Wednesday Night Race.
Thank you Mother Nature for 15 knots of wind from the SW!
We had a good teambuilding with a company from the DC area. They really learned what it takes to sail a 74-foot schooner, in 15 knots of breeze, around a race course after 3 hours of training.
They did well, but as all team challenges learn… you need to have someone in charge to make decisions, you need to have concise, targeted communication, and you need to have a plan that everyone knows in advance. Our team finished second, but they learned a whole bunch along the way.
On our 4:00 sail, there were gray clouds forming. I looked on the radar and there was a tiny yellow blip the size of a neighborhood. I sailed further into the Bay, keeping a watchful eye on the sky and on the radar loop.
We got near the middle of the Bay and we saw some lightning. I started heading back watching exactly how the storm might be tracking. That’s when the “neighborhood” sized blip turned into a “county” sized blip, heading for us.
We took down sails immediately, and motored in before we hit the storm. Then the wind came, 40+ knots (50 mph), and I knew we no longer could safely make a landing in the crowded Annapolis harbor. So we were going to ride it out, since that was the safest thing to do. Many of the guests went below and watched the crew work their magic. Some stayed on deck to enjoy the adventure.
When the rain fell, we had zero visibility, so it’s quite simple what to do… you go with the wind, and take the rain to the back, and you have at least 100 feet of visibility. Perfect. We knew where we were, and 135 degrees would take us clear across the Bay for 6 miles if the storm lasted that long.
It lasted for a half hour, we “sailed” with no sails up at a speed of a top speed of 7 knots just by the wind pushing us in neutral (on the engine). As soon as the rain and wind subsided a bit, we headed back into the wind and rain to get everyone safely back to the dock.