Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bashing along ...

Sailing on Lake Carlyle was mostly fun, occasionally challenging, and rarely a chore. Open water sailing is mostly a chore, usually challenging, and only rarely fun. Our biggest challenge at the moment is handling Kintala upwind into 20+ knots. Concerned about having too much sail flying we end up without enough power to shoulder aside the waves. Setting and reefing the main is tough work on a bouncing deck, at night it is downright scary, and I'm still not sure how much sail the boat will carry when the apparent wind is reaching toward 30 knots.

The cut into Hatchet Bay. 90ft wide. Try that in 4 foot waves...
Motor sailing has become our default option in those conditions, but 47 tired ponies is simply not enough to shove 23,000 pounds up a wave. And, I am not sure how well the engine handles being run in those conditions either. We are talking a lot of motion, rolling and pitching, that are not normally associated with engine operation. The WesterBeast has done yeoman's duties so far, but I listen for every compression stroke, every chuff of water, and every sound. Each moment we are hung out depending on that thing is a moment I dread.

It is a problem because more than half of our days (and nights) have been on the wind to a large degree. It wasn't supposed to work out this way. Waiting on the "right" conditions is part of having your house with you and no schedule to keep, right? But if we tried to work it that way we would still be in Charleston, maybe Norfolk.

It is also a concern because Kintala (like us) is not as young as she used to be. We have been giving her (and ourselves) a real beating. Down below she makes an ugly variety of noises when bashing like that, none of them confidence inspiring. Then again, I have pounded to open water weather in exactly four boats, so it isn't like I have a large sampling to compare.

For the next couple of days we are going to hang out in Hatchet Harbor and lick our wounds. A 6 hour slam fest, a night's endless rolling in the worst anchorage we have found so far, and yesterday morning's motor /sail bash into 3, 4, and 5 foot waves on a 2 to 3 second period (honest, I counted) has taken its toll. Sleep deprived, short on meals, missing a dorad that got tossed overboard by a sheet, fittings loose on the Bimini, and a pressure water leak that appeared in the night, we need another "stand down" and will likely be here a few days. Like the tide, my enthusiasm for open water sailing is at a bit of an ebb.

My enthusiasm for this lifestyle however, continues to grow. Anchored alone in some remote location or nodding to a mooring ball in "Velcro Beach" are equally enjoyable. I could easily make the Abacos my second – water based – home. Less so the Eleutheras. These Islands have not been kind, though Spanish Wells is near the top of my favorite places so far. I love living on a sailboat and being a member of the tribe "cruisers". I love living outside of "American Consumer Normal". Being light and mobile and unencumbered by anything more than living smart today so I will be around to do the same tomorrow, is just fine.

Now if I can just learn to sail this thing to weather without breaking it or me, life would be near perfect.

1 comment:

Rharriscpa said...

Looking forward to your return to Velcro Beach. Thanks for these great pictures. It's probably been 20 years since I was in Hatchet Bay. Looks like nothing has changed much.