The weather has been up and down lately: 40 degrees and 20 knot winds one day, 55 degrees and calm the next. The weather was looking good for a sail last Friday, and since I was on a flex day from work, we decided to take Egretta for one last sail on Claytor Lake before putting her away for the season.
The sky was brilliant blue, that crystal clear, I-can-see-forever sky that only fall and winter bring. The November trees contrasted against it in gorgeous yellows and oranges.
The lake had been lowered significantly, maybe 5-7 feet, for dam maintenance. We used the public ramp, as the state park warned that the ramp we usually used would be too dry to launch a boat. Launching was challenging as we had to climb down a ladder to step onto the boat once we launched it. The dock was 2-3 above our heads when standing on the deck of the boat. Retrieving was even harder. Holding a bowline from 10 feet above and trying to manuever the boat with only a line was not easy.
Out on the lake, the world and the water were silent. We were on a different part of the lake than usual, which I loved. We were able to sail along some of the cliffs of Claytor Lake, which until now we haven’t accessed in our sailboat.
With the exception of the occasional lawn mower or cawing of a crow, there were no sounds. The lake was like a liquid mirror. Somehow there was enough air to move our boat while barely rippling the surface, and for the first time I recall, we glided through the water in silence: no gurgles, no sloshing, no mushing or slapping. The only time our movement made any sound was when we crossed a small boat wake and the tiny waves tinkled against the bow hull.
We were wrapped in tall socks, jeans, fleeces and light windbreakers, and with no wind and clear air, the sun was warm on our clothes at 3pm. As soon as the sun started dropping, it got cold fast. By the time we returned to the dock, my hands and feet were numb.
On land at the ramp, Brian pulled all the halyards out of the mast to stow for the season. No more sailing until spring :-(.