So That’s Why It’s Called Thunder Bay…

I was worried that today’s post would be boring.

Our destination was Rob’s family’s home in Ossineke, for his brother’s birthday. This is not boring for us. However, for a reader who doesn’t even know these people, it well might be.

Especially since we would be arriving by car. The weather forecasts called for thunderstorms all day. Harrisville is close to Ossineke, by car, so someone could pick is up. Rob’s dad urged us to wait two hours and check again, because on the radar it looked like the storm would miss us. Sure enough, in two hours everything looked good.

Everything but my post, that it. Between Harrisville and Ossineke, there is only one interesting landmark, the Sturgeon Point lighthouse.

And we weren’t even able to sail. No wind, cloudy skies, lots of fog.

Then we approached Thunder Bay. Changes were happening. The flag started billowing. This time it was to the side. A reach! This could be better than yesterday. Rob raced to the front of the boat to raise the genoa. He had to keep it very close to the boat on order for me to be able to hold our course. Thunder heads had formed beside us–gray and black mountains towering over the bay–but they were moving away from our boat. We were sailing toward bright sunshine.

The genoa was twisted on one edge, so Rob climbed on deck to fix it. We gained speed, then I noticed we were off course. When I corrected for this, the genoa began lufting. It lost its wind. We tried retrimming it twice, but it would only hold wind if we headed into the storm.

Then the squall hit.

I had been filling the sail, then slowly turning back on course, while Rob tried to make adjustment. The third time, the sail filled and the boat heeled over as we raced in the wrong direction. My steering did nothing to bring us back. “Release the jib!” I yelled to Rob, who did not realize what was going on. Thinking I was giving up, he climbed down to the cockpit and loosened the jib sheet–the line that held the sail in place. The line flung up, snagged our new winch handle, and sent it flying.

The black mountain had spread. It was over us now. Whitecapped waves and swells rocked the boat from side to side. And the jib still needed attention.

Wearing a life jacket now, Rob climbed on top once again, this time to remove the sail. As he lowered it, the wind swept it into the water. He immediately pulled it out and stuffed it into the v-berth.

Rob tethered himself to the boat, while I secured everything in the cabin. We put in two swashboards, so that the Bean couldn’t get out. She stood at the half-door, smiling and rocking with the waves. When a large swell would hit, she’d cry “Weee!”

Under power, Moonraker went wherever we steered. It felt secure and confident as it chopped through the waves. And sailboats are like Weebles; it takes a lot to actually tip one over. Our heavy full keel kept the right end up.

So I took the helm again, so that Rob could chart our new course. As we rounded Scarecrow Island, the sun filled sky. We’re anchored on a beautiful, rocky (read: no seaweed!) beach, and we had a lovely family get-together.

The house!

Some guests on our boat!

Happy birthday, Uncle Chris!

4 thoughts on “So That’s Why It’s Called Thunder Bay…

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