Ass out, or Captain Inept.

My mom still lived in Sea Cliff in 2004 and my dad had recently died so I spent a lot of time out visiting her when I could. Sea Cliff was a wonderful place to grow up and I enjoyed revisiting it. I knew the lay of the land, the harbor and tides, or so I thought.
There was a wonderfully breezy day with winds out of the northwest that moved all the trees in Sea Cliff as I drove my wonderful new bride Jessica down to our boat at the HHC. The wind was a brisk 10 – 15 knots but what I had not accounted for was the fetch and wave action we got off a nearly 6 mile fetch. I took my new bride for a sail.
The engine started up just fine and we dropped the lines and I thought about raising some sail but instead we motored out of the mooring field where I hoped Jessica could keep the boat headed into the wind while I raised the main sail. Before long Jessica asked me if the smoke coming out of the companionway was normal. The engine was over heating so I shut it off. I tried unfurling the jib to see if we could use just the head sail to maintain steerage way. This produced uncomfortable heeling and I realized I would not be able to head into the wind at any angle. Fortunately we were quite close to the mooring field we had come from so I furled up the jib and risked using the motor in short spurts. I called the HHC on VHF radio and announced that I was drifting in their mooring field. Fortunately we drifted upon an empty mooring, the Commodore’s mooring naturally, and their launch finally came aside offering assistance.
Jessica and I stayed on board ‘Odalisque’ for about 20 minutes while we let the smoke from the engine compartment dissipate out the open companion way and cockpit hatches. I was learning that there was a bit more that I needed to figure out with this boat in order to just enjoy a casual day sail. I had overestimated my own sailing abilities and underestimated the effects of wind and waves. I also knew almost nothing about the Atomic 4 engine in our boat and it was even possible that I had seized or ruined the engine.

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