Tuesday, October 13, 2015

“Know when to fold 'em...”

I am not a big Kenny Rogers fan. Indeed, that whole genre of music usually makes my teeth hurt. But when a man is right about something (and his song gets stuck in your head) he should get some credit.

The forecast was for winds gusting to 20 with a small craft advisory. Not great but nothing to make a story out of either. Friends are out there even as I write, and the plan was to meet them at the anchorage at Ft. Monroe. It is only 30 miles or so, being hard on the wind for a few hours would not be that big a deal. And, truth to tell, as much fun as it has been to be here, spending time with good friends and hiding out from a hurricane, I am suffering a killer case of restless. Places south and warm, with sparkling water and sand bottoms for the Mantus, are whispering “come hither” in my ear. Yet they are still weeks away at sailboat speeds. Time to get a move on.

We looked at the cards and anted up, getting the deck set for being under way. We even raised a bit, recruiting help, playing out extra lines, and waking up the Beast.

Winds up to 20 had Kintala hard against the lines keeping her off the dock. There would be no just casting off and motoring away. After some discussion it seemed reasonable to drop the dock side lines, run a second spring to keep the boat from surging forward in the wind, pull in the off dock lines, get some quick release lines around the pilings for and aft, drop the spring, drop the lines, power forward and GO! An enthusiastic starboard turn would be needed to miss the next set of pilings, then we would be on our way.

We got right to the point of tossing the spring, sucking in the lines, and GOING. Then we stopped. The pilings forward that we needed to miss loomed large. The winds were a bit higher than we liked. We were running out of hands to handle lines and drive the boat. And just getting to where we were had taken more than an hour and required some serious pull using the jib winch to pull against the wind. The whole set-up felt wrong.

I've bounced off of piers before. Deb suggested that maybe we should have waited a bit more. Know when to fold 'em.

I tossed our cards onto the table.

A couple of extra lines thrown around the windward pilings would ensure the hull stayed clear of the dock. A bow line went the other way to keep the other side of the hull off the pilings and aid the spring. With the spring snugged up the crew of Rover went back to their own tasks. (Thanks Guys! It was a good try.)
An attempted selfie with the crew of Rover but it appears my phone camera
is going wonky. It took a bunch of really bad pics in the last two days.

The dock is about 10 feet away so we are boat bound. If the winds ease as forecast late this afternoon Kintala will make her way out to the anchorage and spend the night on the hook. Tomorrow is another day, less wind but from a better direction. Should the winds stay where they are, we will stay where we are.

In the mean time the boat is secure, provisioned up, and ready whenever the weather deals a playable hand.

A pic from our genoa restitching project. This is how the boat looks in sew mode.

Yesterday's beautiful sunset taken from a badly misbehaving phone camera.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A protest ...

... just like the good old days.

The Florida legislature is at it again. Denying boaters shore access in an effort to drive us off apparently isn't aggressive enough, so they are back to reviewing anchoring restrictions. They are having a “public” meeting tomorrow: during the hurricane season, during the Annapolis Boat Show, with most of the people who will bear the brunt of their actions a thousand miles away. If one was of a cynical mind one might think the timing was deliberate.

Since I hate to go down without at least the token of a fight, and since we are among those who will be affected who are also a thousand miles away, the least I could do was send them an email. No good is likely to come of it. If history is any guide people who are used to abusing their power never change their minds, and never give that power up voluntarily. Sooner or later someone has to come along who has the will and the means to remove them from power.

It would be preferable if the good people who live in Florida would do that through elections. It is, after all, their jobs and paychecks that will take the real hit.  Unfortunately that would require the US be an actual, functioning democracy. A claim that is open to debate. In any case, all such power shifts start with protests and trouble makers and then lead wherever they lead. So I thought I'd add my two cents worth, just to keep my "trouble maker" card valid. Here is the email I sent to John.Love@myfloridahouse.gov

Dear Sir,

I understand that the State of Florida is, once again, considering trying to restrict the use of Florida waters to citizens at the insistence of the few. It is already well known that one local marine police force has been bribed to harass boaters at the behest of a single home owner. This, all of its own, is an outrage that the politicians in Florida are ignoring.

I would attend the meeting being held on October 8 to voice my disgust personally, but my Florida registered boat (which is also my home) is currently in the southern Chesapeake Bay. Our insurance is invalid if we are in Florida and a named storm damages the boat during the hurricane season. In addition, we have discovered that places like Annapolis, MD are very welcoming to the cruising, boating, and live-aboard community. They enjoy having us as guests. We enjoy spending our money with them.

In spite of the attempted betrayal on the part of Florida's compromised political system, we are looking forward to returning to the southern Florida area, particularly Biscayne Bay, in the next few weeks. It has been our experience that the people of Florida do not share the anti-boating views that their political leaders are being bribed to pursue. Indeed, whenever we share the story of the state's underhanded attempts to serve those who are buying their influence, rather than the public good, people are pretty sympathetic to our dissatisfaction. A good bit of Florida's service industry is supported by boating, cruising, and those who live aboard. Those whose jobs depend on providing that service know who supports their paychecks. And they know it isn't those serving in the State House.

The tide may be turning. Politicians who harm the many at the insistence of the few may soon find that they really are on the wrong side of history. That is never a good place to be. It is my hope that there are enough true public servants in the Florida legislature to turn back this squalid attempt to kneel before the rich once and for all.

Tim Akey
s/v Kintala

Ed Note: You can follow the Florida anchoring debate on Wally Moran's website. He is actively involved in the fight to defend anchoring rights in Florida. You can also send an email to the email address in the body of this post if you are concerned about your anchoring rights in Florida.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Things not mentioned

One of the few moments the rain slowed down enough for me to risk my
non-waterproof camera to sneak a picture.

Sunday was one of those days that never show up in the Cruiser magazines. Though Joaquin turned far out to sea another storm system battered the area with “1,000 year” rains. We spent the day kind of grimly holding on as Kintala shook, pitched, and groaned her way through a day of lashing rain and wind guests in the high 30s. At high tide the road into the marina was under water while waves washed over the higher of the fixed docks. The low fixed docks were under by several feet and the walkways to the floating docks did weird things, bouncing like diving boards and sticking up into the air. Getting off the boat was a chore, but we had to when the rising tide pulled the power cord completely taut. A few minutes later the flood waters shorted out all shore power in the area anyway.

The fuel cans were stored off of the boat for the storm. It took another jump to the dock to retrieve one so the Honda generator could get a tank full and be brought into play to keep the batteries charged. Even if the dark clouds and rain weren't rendering the sun inoperative, the solar array had been removed and stored below. By Sunday night yours truly was well and truly tired of the wind, rain, waves, and ride. Hurricane or no, the idea of having run off to hide in a hotel room was feeling like the option we should have taken.

Come Monday morning the boat was still dancing, but just a little. No rain fell. There were even a few shadows in the salon, something not seen for many a day. The air was dry and cool and a look at the NOAA sight showed Joaquin well to the east of and moving further and further away.

A short aside here; though NOAA was seriously worried about Joaquin making landfall in the US, European models always had the storm turning east. Still being a pilot at heart and having had a life-long relationship with weather and weather forecasts, I was curious as to why the difference. From what I can learn, NOAA's funding for climate research and forecasting is being reduced, leaving them working with outdated models and limited computer capabilities. Something that, frankly, sounds like lunacy. Nothing is more expensive in lives and property damage than being unprepared for large scale weather events. But America isn't even keeping up with the rest of the world when it comes to forecasting and research, let alone being on the leading edge. Lunacy indeed. Anyway...

What a difference today

A hurricane scare is much better than a hurricane hit. Come early Monday afternoon we started turning Kintala back into a sailboat. With the boom back up in the air, the anchor, dink motor, and solar panels remounted in their normal positions, and the bimini and dodger back up, boat life is slowly returning to something nearer to normal. Today the main sail was bent back on, halyards run to their normal places, and the cockpit is, once again, a cockpit. In the next day or so we will start repairs on the head sails. (We noticed some stitching and a few tears in the sunbrella when taking them down.) While Deb is running the Sailrite machine I may try to track down and fix some of the worst leaks that made themselves apparent over the last few days.

This is work that just has to be addressed. Putting damaged sails back up when heading out for a 2000 mile season is pretty poor seamanship, sure to lead to even more damage later. This has been a good place to ride out the storms, and we have friends here who are also working hard at getting back underway, so hanging around for a few more days to do things right isn't a bad thing at all. Still, the weather for the next week and more looks to be perfect for getting a move on. So, good place or not, it will chafe a bit, pinned here getting things done that need to be done, while the sun is shining and the winds blowing gently on a good point of sail.

That isn't in the cruising magazines either.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Head and heart

Kintala is tied with a total of 10 lines strung to pilings. All the canvas is down. Everything is stored, stowed, and secured. Compared to the beating friends took in the Bahamas, we are sitting pretty and safe. We are. But it doesn't feel that way.

The boat is bouncing and rolling, tugging on her port side lines as the wind blows a constant 30+. On an outside dock, there are waves nearing three feet washing past the hull. She is making noises unfamiliar since we have never been on her when she was rigged for a storm. For those who have never lived on a boat, unfamiliar noises are not passed off easily. They vie for attention and understanding. When a new one pops up everything gets put aside to puzzle out what has happened, even sleeping. A sailor will sleep blissfully as the rigging sings in a 20 knot blow, but let something thump against the hull or slap on the deck, and that same sailor will be up and moving before being fully awake. Just now we heard a sizable “thunk” for the third time and have yet to figure out what is making the noise. Sounds minor, but it grinds at the back of the mind. Sleep will be shallow and bothered this night.

We took some time off of the boat this afternoon, going into town with the crew of Rover for lunch and a movie. (The Martian: good flick.) It was a needed break. Kintala is never happy when the winds blow and she is tied to piers. She has been so confined for several days now and there is at least two more to go before the forecasts have this storm finally moving away. The folks who live around here, whose houses don't float, will be glad when it does. Flooding is a concern with the ground totally saturated. When we drove out of the marina today we had to go the back way as the main road was flooded even though the tide had yet to reach high. Lunch and a movie was enough time to have the tide peak and start to recede. Had we returned after just a lunch there would have been no path back into the parking lot.

This is a part of cruising that is hard to explain. The head says all is well, that we are perfectly safe in this place in this weather. But the fact is we humans don't really look at the world with the head, we see it though the heart. What we know, and what we are experiencing, are often in open conflict. When that happens we go with the heart. I know we are safe, but I want to feel safe as well.

I will be glad when this storm is over; when Kintala is back together and ready to sail.

We cannot be on our way soon enough.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Stood up

Friday 8am track

Kintala is as prepared for a hurricane hit as we know how to make her. All the canvas is down and the aft end of the boom is lashed to the deck. The solar panels are stored below with all of the associated external wiring taped to the bimini frame. That frame has lines run to various cleats to support it. The dink, dink motor, and anchor are all stowed in the cockpit, and a hundred additional tasks were done as well. It was two days worth of intensive work, most of it while wearing full foulies in deference to the constant rain. This is what one does when invited to a dance with a hurricane named Joaquin. But, as of this morning, it appears that Joaquin has had a change of heart and is going to dance across the Atlantic after giving the Bahamas a thorough bashing.

There is nothing quite as good as being stood up by a hurricane.

Which is not to say that we are sitting in the sunshine. The forecasts for the next three and one half days include heavy, heavy rains with wind gusts to 40 knots. The weather here is still deteriorating rather badly. At any other time such a forecast would suck serious lemons. But compared to what it could have been? I may go sit by the pool (in my foulies) and drink a cold one (even though steaming hot coffee would be more appropriate) just to celebrate our apparent reprieve. Of course doing that would mean actually getting off the boat, and I'm not sure we will be doing that for a couple of days at least. The wind is pushing us hard away from dock and the lines are set to make sure the hull can't reach the hard stuff even if the winds shift. Which means we can't reach the hard stuff either. Still, I would rather be boat-bound than leaving the boat behind while scurrying for cover at a hotel far inland.

Likely, it will take three days or more to have ye 'ol Tartan ready to move again. Of course trusting a hurricane is not what smart people do. Kintala will sit, just as she is, for a few days yet. Once the momentum of more than one hundred billion pounds of hurricane is fully committed to a direction that doesn't point toward Severn Creek, then we will think about making like a sailboat again. It would be extra nice if the rains finally moved off before that task begins. Working in the rain is one of those things one does when one needs, not something one does when one wants.

Pulling down the headsails exposed some wear so it will likely take an extra day or two to tend to some restitching. That, and the fact that I will not be pushing as hard putting things back together, hopefully in the sunshine, as I did while taking things apart in the rain...yeah, a week at least before being happy gypsies once again. More likely two.

But we will be happy gypsies once again. Something that wasn't as likely just 24 hours ago.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Our nekked girl

I hardly even recognized her as I strode down the dock late this afternoon. I'll be very glad when we have her back to herself again. Just hoping that there's some Bahamas left to go to...

The very full aft cabin.