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"Sailing Geek" finds high winds, religion in early October squalls

Riverside, AL - "Be careful what you wish for." After suffering several weeks of light to non-existent winds, the Systems Analyst turned sailor was beginning to wonder what that toe-strap in the floor of the Kelly II was used for. "The wind has been so light since I began sailing that I never got a chance to sit on the gunwales. You had to sit in the center of the boat or you'd turn it over!", he confided to this reporter. But October brings a change in the prevailing winds in this part of the country and nowhere was that more evident than on Lake Logan-Martin last week.

After a half-hour of comfortable 10 knot winds, the leading edge of a storm began to blow in. Soon the winds were making 15 knots with gusts up to 20 knots.

"I just kept beating (turning almost directly into "irons") to keep her from heeling too far over. I know I could have leaned way over or sat up on the gunwales to balance her but I was just too scared to 'fall off'".

"Falling off" refers to turning the boat away from the wind and, in this case, exposing the sails to more of the wind's force. (See figure below.) It results in much higher boat speeds and subjects the boat to more heeling and leeward forces. "I just kept thinking that the wind had better slow down or change direction because as it kept me heading in one direction, I was in danger of running out of lake!"

Then came the rain.

The good news was that this brought much lighter winds. The bad news was it brought lots of rain and some lightning. "Now I'm thinking - Great! I'm 40 yards from the nearest tree and the Kelly II is sporting an 18-foot lightning rod! It seemed like a good time to head for shore."

Both boat and captain are fine but a little wet.