Thursday, February 19, 2015

The F8 shuffel

Sailors have a lot of ways to talk about wind. Kintala danced and tugged at her anchor all night as the F5 winds romped through Miami Stadium, occasionally touching F6. That would be 17 – 21, and 22 – 27 knots, respectively. This morning her crew was a bit sleep deprived but daylight always makes things seem better. Except that the winds cranked up to F7, occasionally touching F8. That would be 28 – 32, and 33 – 40 knots, respectively. For those used to MPH, 40 knots is about 46 mph. More fun? F8 is officially “gale force winds”. And while sitting in the Miami Stadium anchorage provides more protection than would be found sitting out in the Bay or on a Dinner Key mooring, winds out of the northwest have a pretty good shot straight at the bow. Much of what got done on the boat today would fall into the “hanging on” category.

Whitecaps on the water in a protected anchorage is never good.

Kintala is a noisy boat in the wind. Her decks creak as the load on the cleats ramps up. Snubbing lines groan though the blocks, and the anchor chain rattles and bangs. Like all sailboats she has a lot of rigging up in the sky for the wind to sing through. Sometimes there is a “bang” or a “thump” whose origin is unknown, which often provokes a trip out on deck to make sure all is well. I did two such trips last night, one around 0320 and another at 0515. Deb was up each time as well since having a person out on deck, alone, on such a night is not the best of ideas. There is no such a thing as a quiet night when the winds are F5 and better.

Out on deck (I don't remember if it was at 0320 foray or the 0515,) boat bouncing, wind playing hard, checking to see if the ground tackle was holding (ours and those around us) or being damaged, with the lights of mega-city Miami just across the way, I was struck once again with how different our life is now.

I'm not sure what is going on out in the “real world”. My habit of checking “the news” seems to have dropped away a couple of weeks ago, about the same time as when we left the mooring ball in Dinner Key. “Out here” we have different concerns; mostly revolving around the weather, the holding tank, and stores on board. We get up in the middle of the night to check the ground tackle, bundled against a chill wind and being careful where we step. What is happening “over there” (picture me vaguely waving in the direction of those same Miami lights) isn't really much of a concern to us “out here”.

Anchor watch from the comfort of our enclosed dodger.
My guess would be that most of them “over there”, at either 0320 or 0515, were completely unaware of what the wind was doing. They certainly weren't out walking around one step from a possibly fatal stumble, making sure their house wasn't about to (literally) blow away. And the concerns they do have seem … well … rather odd when viewed from the deck of a boat. When I was paying attention, the news was full of people famous for being famous doing stupid things which, somehow, made them even more famous. There were sports people doing things sporty and not so sporty. There were politicians doing things and saying things so stupid even the famous people couldn't keep up. And there was the endless repetition of violence that no one seems able to understand or reduce. There is an air of infantile wafting off of much of it, like that from a baby's diaper. If Human Kind is the sharpest knife in the cosmic drawer of life, the universe is a dull place that could use some new management.

(Kids and Grand Kids, of course, tip the balance back. Maybe we should put them in charge? I would offer my 8 year old Grand Daughter as far wiser, smarter, more compassionate, and with a better sense of fair play, than any currently sitting in the House, Senate, White House, or Supreme Court.)

It seems to me that a lot of people are getting tired of being over there and heading out here instead. Deb organized a cruiser's sundowners get-together the other day while we were still in No Name Harbor. A good crowd showed up, and a good number of that crowd were first year people heading for the Islands for their first time. Maybe there were as many new people last year, people I didn't notice being a newbie myself. But it doesn't feel that way. Maybe a lot of people from over there are starting to suspect that accumulated stupid must, at some point, get near to being fatal for all involved. Being somewhere else when that happens has a certain appeal, and a cruising boat is a good way to get “somewhere else.” When I was "over there" I was certainly one of those who felt that way. But now? Maybe not so much.

Oh, I suspect some things are going to seriously unravel. After all, Deb and my jobs, the housing market, and our options of housing that didn't include a cardboard box and a bridge, all unraveled all at the same time. But once we made it onto the boat and out here, it didn't seem that is what happened at all. Living on the ocean tends to give one a different perspective on what is raveled and what is unraveled. The seas have been around since long before us silly humans, and will be around long after. As have the dolphins, whales, jellyfish, sharks, and starfish - most of which will probably outlast us as well. All of the antics of human kind appear smaller from offshore, a species unraveling maybe, but that is not as important as we make it out to be. Pretty much nothing “out here” pays much attention to the odd doings of human kind.

Including, sometimes, me. Particularly when the deck is dancing to an F8 tune in the dark reaches of the night.


Unknown said...

All this, and a poet, too. You are quite a guy, Tim.
Thanks, again.

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

I would worry about losing touch with "common humanity," but I suppose your kids and grands provide a shoreside "anchor." Dual anchors are often a good idea!

TJ said...

I know what you mean, but if you will allow a play on words, I am not sure common humanity is a good thing. I have more interest in uncommon humanity, one that reaches out rather than strikes back, and looks outward for understanding and wisdom without fear. One where heroes are not lauded by the number of their kills nor a person's worth - and political clout - determined by the size of their bank account. Common humanity is our failing. If we can't learn (Learn!) to be uncommonly human, human kind doesn't have much of a future.

SV Pelagia said...

Is there such a thing as a quiet boat when the wind picks up? (Not Pelagia!)

S/V Island Bound said...

Damn Tim! Another excellent post! It amazes me how you can put those feelings (which we share) into words like that, and I couldn't agree more.