No Sail
June 21, 2009

no sale no sale no sale

My last sail had been such a good one that I was eager to get back to the river and sail again. Perhaps this time Eve would come with me. Saturday June 21 was shaping up to be a good day. Winds at 11 mph were forecast from the NNW. That was the right direction. They would be blowing against the current so we could make our way easily upstream.

We hopped on our bikes and set off over the bridges on the Allegheny then down the north shore of the river. From time to time, I'd stop and peer into the water. I did not like what I saw.

The previous Wednesday we had storms with rains of biblical proportions. Everything seemed to spring leaks. Our basement was sufficiently flooded to short out the electric supply to our elevator. I had assumed that this would raise river currents quickly. On Thursday I'd run along the river but not noticed anything significantly stronger in the current. The water was unusually muddy, but that seemed to be about all.


Now on Saturday, things were different. Clearly the water had been collecting in the dams upstream and the engineers were now releasing it. I could see the current moving at a walking pace on the Allegheny and, by the time we arrived at the Newport marina, it was running at a slow walk. (Flow on Allegheny at Natrona, 22,000 cubic feet per second; flow on Mon at Elizabeth, 9,000 cubic feet per second.) I tossed a twig into the river. Eve and I stood on the dock watching it move downstream just a little faster than we'd like. "Look," Eve said, "It's already over there!"


Perhaps we could handle the current. But what I had also not liked was the gustiness of the wind. You can see wind gusts on a river. They appear as a dark smudge moving over the water. You learn to brace for them when you are sailing. They are just what tips the boats of inattentive sailors.

How would the sail go? Another great day sailing? Or a difficult day fighting currents and wind gusts? I decided that sailing is meant to be fun. It just wasn't worth the risk of going out and adding one more disaster story to the diary, especially on the day that Eve comes with me.

That was probably a little too cautious. Over the last few sails, I've gotten much better at controlling the Bravo and holding the mainsheet so that I can instantly release it when that boat tipping gust comes. But the other factor was that, in our haste to pack up, I'd left the bicycle saddle bag behind with all the bits and pieces. Sailing would mean we'd have to cycle back and get it. I felt more than a little foolish.


So we didn't sail. We headed off to the Starbucks downtown at 6th Street for coffee. As we stood in our lifejackets ordering coffee, the barista, sensing something sporty afoot, told us that his boss was skydiving at that very moment.

John D. Norton

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