The BINARY Files

Nov. 15, 1998

A few circumstances have conspired to keep me off the water today, but I did get out yesterday.

I drove over to my boat late Friday night, so I could get up early and sail. Saturday dawned crisp and clear. I rolled over and slept for a couple more hours. I got up and walked over to the West River Market for sausage and egg on a homemade bisquit and a big cup of coffee. Walked back to Binary, sat in the cockpit and ate breakfast.

A beautiful day, but little wind. I hanked on the sails anyway. The motor was a little obstinate after sitting idle for over a month, but I coaxed her to life, slipped the lines, and eased out past the end of the pier.

Neutral. Up with the main, then the jib. Cut the motor, swing her around.


Two four-letter words: dead calm.

Now warm, the motor fires easily and I head for the Bay in search of a breeze. Reverting to the Iron Genny with the sails up feels like selling my soul to the devil, but at least I'm on the water.

I motor slowly, enjoying the beauty of sunny fall day. Hard to believe it's the middle of November. Even the powerboaters heading out the river seem to sense my tranquility and wait until they have passed before throttling up so as not to disturb me with their wakes.

For a moment, I thought I felt something on my cheek. There it was again. I turned my head to try and find the air. I looked out toward the Bay, and there on the water I saw those tiny dancing wavelets that betray the presence of a breeze. The air approached from the Bay to the east.

The big genny filled. Binary heeled five degrees to port and, with confidence that nature would continue to provide air, I quieted the motor.

The breeze held and I began tacking out of the river. The game was to make the best use possible of the wind within the confines of the channel between the shallows. Thus, Binary and I danced around the poor souls who were slaves to their motors still.

As is not uncommon, the wind swung towards the south as we approached the Bay. The last tack out put us on a course for Thomas Point Light, some miles away.

Passing Curtis Point removes the last barrier to the southerly wind. Responding to the air and a tweak of the sails, Binary heeled to 15 degrees and began to fly.

The Bay was flat and Binary cut cleanly through the water. I tied off the tiller and fetched a jacket from below. Then I took a walk forward. It's silly, but I like to stand on the bow with one hand on the forestay and feel Binary under my feet. It must be an odd sight for the passing boats: not a soul in Binary's cockpit, no one at the tiller, just an idiot standing on the bow grinning.

What a "grin mill" my little boat is.

Soon the horn at the light house could be heard across the water, playing its rythmic, one-note tune. It was time.

Tiller over, loose the jib sheet, then trim the genny in again on the other side. Skipping only a beat as her nose came through the wind, Binary settled on her starboard side and headed back for the West River.

The wind had gradually increased all morning and Binary was now laying over to 25 and 30 degrees. Easing the sails to the edge of luffing brought Binary back to a more comfortable 15 to 20 degrees. With her keel back under her, Binary flew on. The waves were still below one foot, so it was a dry, fast ride.

All too soon, we approached Galesville. Two quick tacks to gain the wide spot in the river. Sails down. Motor on for the few minutes needed to reach Binary's slip. Then quiet as I played spider, weaving the web of docklines that will hold Binary captive until I return to again set her free.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful Winter.

Fair winds!

Eric White, 15 Nov. 98

Return to the Binary Files