This Holiday weekend we took our dogs sailing for the first time. We have brought them to the boat before, but never left the dock with them. We were impressed with how good they did, they weren’t scared at all and while Hayley was clingy, she was fine.

Here is Holly being coaxed into the cockpit:

Hayley is getting some love from John after her life jacket is put on.

They didn’t love the life jackets, but neither of them tried to take them off. They seemed rather comfortable actually.  They are wearing Alcott Mariner life jackets and even though the girls are different sizes and shapes, they both fit into a Large. I do like the blue color and there is a whole line with a matching collar and leash that I’m thinking of getting for them. Partway into the sail, I wrote their names and the boat name on their life jackets, just in case.
Holly sitting pretty in her life jacket (on my seat of course).
That's my chair

Hayley really wanted to go inside

but she was wary of the stairs. She didn’t go down then, but when we came back in and were closing up the boat, she finally went down and hung out for awhile in the shade. The dogs were very calm while we were motoring away from the dock, when we scared a large Blue Heron Holly’s ears perked up and she watched it fly by.
Look at that bird

This is my favorite picture of the whole trip, Hayley looking over the bay with the causeway in the background.


Heading out down the jetties, there is a lot to look at, Hayley was constantly going from side to side to see everything. Even with all the movement, the life jackets never slid off or even moved from where John put them on.

Right in the middle of the jetties, the wind picked up and we decided to put the sail up with a reef. That’s the first time I had ever put a reef in a sail, and the sail we have on the boat currently is slightly larger than the original one and it has battens which make it unwieldy. Awkwardly, I tied the reef points, knowing I wasn’t doing it correctly but doing the best I could. It worked even though it’s not pretty.

The wind was foretasted to be 11-13 mph, but it was much stronger than that, over 15 mph at least. There was lots of traffic on the water that morning being a holiday weekend. As we cleared the jetties, the wind had kicked up the waves to slightly uncomfortable levels (although the pictures don’t look that bad).

The dogs were handling the swells ok, but it seemed that they were getting nervous.  Hayley was staying really close to me and Holly was right next to John. We decided to turn around and sail up the channel, the wind was perfect for that and the water would be calmer. We didn’t have the momentum to turn around so we had to fire up the motor to complete the turn. The dogs are hot (yes, we had plenty of water for them and they drank a lot) but seemed fine otherwise, not motion sick or upset.
The girls first sail

Hayley is chillin as we enter back into the calmer water of the jetties.
Hayley chilling

There was even more traffic as we came in, shrimp boats, dolphin watch boats, fishing boats. I think the only boat we didn’t see was the Coast Guard.
Traffic in the channel

The sail up the channel was so calm and pleasant, we just sat back and let the wind move us. We tried to put up the head sail, but the direction of the wind just wouldn’t let the sail fill. The constant flapping couldn’t have been good for it so we rolled it back up. We didn’t really need it anyways as we were moving along fairly well. As the time neared noon, we were getting hot and hungry so we decided to turn around and head back in. This time we had the perfect amount of momentum to make the turn smoothly, and everything worked perfectly. (shocking, I know!) As we turned into the bay, we were running with the wind and I found that slightly eerie. The rush of wind was gone and it was so much quieter. It just was …odd. We saw a pod of dolphins that swam right next to us.
Dolphins in front of the coast guard station

The dogs were getting hot now, without the wind to cool them off. They retreated to the shade under the dodger.
Tired girls

I have to say at this point, things were going very well and I had gotten complacent with trimming the sails. I knew that we would be moving towards port (left)  into the bay but I didn’t really think about it when I had placed the sail on the port side. As I look at this diagram (from the safety of my computer) I know that I should have placed it on the opposite side. As we slowly turned into the bay, John was steering and the turn was so slight that I really didn’t notice. Then BAM, the boom swung completely to the other side of the boat with an accidental gybe. It was so fast that I barely had time to react, I grabbed at the line as it swung by my hand but just ended up with some rope burn. I immediately asked if I had done something wrong (normally I’m the one that makes the mistakes) but John said that it was his fault. Looking back, I think if I had set the sail properly, that wouldn’t have happened. Right after the sail swung over, John turned up into the wind and I pulled down the sail. As I was pulling it down, I notice that one of the battens had popped out of it’s holder and in fact, the holder is broken. That was the only damage that I could see.
The rest of the ride to the dock was uneventful and we even managed to dock with no issues, we seem to be getting better at that. All in all, it was a good sail. We plan on taking down the damaged sail on a less windy day and send it to the sail maker to be checked and fixed.

Hopefully we can take the dogs out again soon!

Our Dogs’ First Sail
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