Friday, February 6, 2015

On you mark …

Get set.

Go!

No ... Wait!!!

Kintala is in the final stages of staging to the Islands. A few minor tasks remain to be finished come daylight. By late morning off the mooring ball and across the bay to anchor outside of No Name. We would anchor inside No Name but it is pretty sure to be full of boats who are staged for the Islands. In or out it looks to be a one-night stand. Sunday looks like the day. Maybe Monday. But this evening a weather check brings different tidings, and the fun of being a cruiser and completely responsible for making these kinds of decisions has begun.

Sunday early is lumpy north bound Gulf Stream due to still fading south and west bound winds. Picture two enormous freight trains, thousands of miles long weighing uncountable millions of tons, running in opposite directions on parallel tracks … tracks that are too close together. As they pass the trains bash and bang into each other, bending bits and sending passengers flying. That is the Gulf Stream with a north wind. That is tonight and tomorrow, tapering off on Sunday. Monday is quiet seas and light winds, the trains running the same way at the same speed. Minor bumps but hardly noticeable … the calm before the next batch of weather.

Such weather is now forecast to arrive in Bimini sometime Monday. Maybe Monday night. And maybe Monday midday. Monday early midday is high tide at Bimini. Bimini is the kind of place a boat like Kintala needs slack water to get on and off the dock. (It being the place, last year, where I bashed the dock getting out, bent our new Mantus anchor and Kintala's anchor roller, and splintered one of the marina's pilings a bit.) It is also the kind of place where one does not go in on an ebb tide with a west wind. Don't be late as the weather will likely be at the inlet before the flood tide returns. If the wind directions sound confusing its because the forecast has them swinging nearly 360 degrees in the space of barely a day.

Going in the weather window of Sunday means bashing head long into the waves and wind for 10 hours. Going in the weather window of Monday means motoring. Motoring means putting the WesterBeast to work. In our case it means betting missing a beating on the WesterBeast running flawlessly throughout the trip. If it doesn't we will be sitting ducks in the Gulf Stream as the winds turn to north - the freight trains running in opposite directions again - and the weather ramps back up to ugly. Back in my old life I often bet the farm on a single engine. It sort of comes with the territory of being a night freight driver in single engine airplanes. I didn't like it much, but it was the only way I had to pay the bills. And it was a long time ago when I was young and bold. I'm not so young anymore. Not so bold either. And I don't much like betting the farm on the WesterBeast.

It is 2020 in the evening and the plan is still to head across the Bay the morning. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Note: Night freight single engine airplane drivers had a check list should the engine quit deep in the darkness. Slow to best glide speed. At 200 feet off the ground put the landing gear down. At 100 feet off the ground turn on the landing light. If you don't like what you see, turn the landing light off.

2 comments:

Mike B. said...

So, is it better to have one WesterBeast or two? ;-)

TJ said...

Two WesterBeasts? Oh Nooo!!!