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Newcastle to Whitby in a Venture of Newport 23 

Back in '88 or so I took my McGregor - Venture of Newport 23, from Port Darlington, Ontario to Whitby, Ontario.  The distance is maybe 15 or so nautical miles, 4 of hours sailing, if wind and weather co-operates.
I was still rather in-experienced.  First "big" boat after sailing a dinghy and the Siren 17.   What could go wrong - nice summer day - just a lovely sail to Whitby.  Did not check the weather forecast.  Did not think that the prevailing wind is westerly.  Did not think that with waves and tacking it could be a much longer trip  Looking back at it now I am wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Anyway - off we go, my ladyfriend and I,  and the weather deteriorates, maybe at best 13 knots maybe 15 knots at times.  But the sun went away and it rained on and off.   We did not take food or warm clothing - just our summer clothes, T-shirt and shorts.  

I did not measure the distance from Port Darlington to Whitby, thinking, in my head, that it would be, maybe, 3 hours or so, which would be correct on a flat lake and motoring at 5 knots.  Except that the wind was against us..

I don't even think I had charts.  Just follow the coast line!  All off a sudden the centerboard starts bumping - oh gee - shallow water - shit - let's get out of here.  Needless to say - my ladyfriend was not impressed!  Neither am I, with myself,  in retrospect!

I don't think the main had any reefing point so with the main up and the other two sails, jib and staysail, (the Venture of Newport 23 is cutter rigged) we were overpowered.  So we motored, or should I say pounded, against the wind and waves in a boat with a flat aft section  - FUN!

Well, 6+ hours later, very cold and very hungry, we made Whitby.  I don't think I have ever been forgiven for that trip!
I think I slept in the doghouse the next couple of weeks.

With proper clothing, some food, a thermos with soup and another thermos with tea or coffee and some reef-points it could have been a fabulous sail.  Tacking out into the lake for a couple of hours and then tack back to head for Whitby. 

It is easy how you can fool yourself into thinking you are now a sailor - big 23 foot boat - what could go wrong?  HAH!

I had taken the Power Squadron courses and I had sailed a dinghy, I had read Chichester, Robin Knox-Johnston, Joshua Slocum, therefore I was sailor!  Ah - the dreams of the everyday house man!

Did I know how to hove-to?  Was I smart enough and humble enough to admit I had made a mistake and I better head back to Port Darlington and do it properly next day or whenever?  

But what does not kill you makes you smarter!


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Copyright by Peter Deppisch, February 2006