Friday evening, I left town about 6:30 PM with the Sea Pearl 21 in tow. I headed up to Stockton Lake for my first overnight on the boat, solo. It took me a little while to rig the boat in the dark, but around 8:30, I pushed off and rowed out past the boats at Orleans Trail Marina and down the long cove to the main lake channel.
At first, I only planned to row out a bit, then find a peaceful cove and wait the night out to sail in the morning. But the moon came out bright enough to see by and in spite of my slight reservations, I hoisted the sails and took advantage of the decent wind coming down the lake. I sailed for about an hour before dousing the sails and rowing back up the long cove I started from, finding a smaller leeward cove to anchor and camp in for the rest of the night. I'm glad I bought a spotlight before this trip, it came in really handy when spotting a good place to camp and in spotting landmarks from the water.
Owls hooted throughout the night and bats swooped through my at anchor light, but I still managed to sleep really well, overall. Between the motion of the lightly rocking sailboat hull, the tiring two hours of sailing and rowing in the dark and a rum and cola while reading under the makeshift tarp boom tent, I was out like a light.
Morning came, I made coffee and heated up some pre-cooked bacon to eat with my Pop Tart. I sat and enjoyed the view from where I found myself anchored. One last owl hoot before the sun came up completely, a blue heron croaked his displeasure as a bass boat raced down the lake and I relaxed taking it all in, having done something afloat that I've only read about previously. It was great!
About 8 AM, I put everything back in its place and sailed back into the main lake channel to meet a guy I met at Sail Oklahoma Messabout, named Gene Berry. He pulled up to the launch ramp just as I turned the bend in the lake. Perfect timing. I sailed over and practiced heaving-to while he rigged his sailboat.
Gene is a prolific builder of small boats. As soon as he has one done, it's on to the next. The boat he brought for the day was his V-Fly, a modified Jim Michalak Mayfly 12 with a vee bottom installed.
We sailed from the Orleans Trail area up the lake, past the two large islands and up around the bridge that separates the dam side of the lake from Mutton Creek Marina. Gene sailed under with ease, but I hung back, not confident in clearing the bridge in high water conditions. We've had a lot of rain this summer and Stockton is over its normal banks a bit. Gene lost his hat on the return trip under the bridge, we tacked back and forth for ten minutes and managed to find the needle in the haystack, a green hat in a green blue lake.
Then we set off for the down wind run back to the launch area. By this time we had a decent amount of company. Large sloops sailed in every direction you looked and pleasure boats pulling inner tubes with bouncing laughing kids zigged back and forth all over the place. I followed Gene into the launch area he put in at and we talked a bit before he headed out and I sailed back to the marina to collect my things for the day.
It was a great trip. I got to experience sleeping aboard for the first time and sail in the company of one of my SailOklahoma friends that I usually just converse with in broken up Yahoo forum messages. Looking forward to the upcoming SailOklahoma event in October and sailing more with like-minded boat addicts.
Only downside, I need to pick up some sailing gloves, soon. I had a line run out on my left hand about mid-day and I ended up having to fashion some makeshift duct tape bandages for the blisters I received for my inattention.