Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nights, antics, and time ...

Kintala has had a couple of one-night-stands; one night in Allan's Pensacola, one night in Powell. Both places were too pretty to be treated that way and deserved more time. But the boat is nearly out of fresh water and Green Turtle is the next place for a fill-up. The third night we cozied up with the Crab Cay end of the Nunjack anchorage. Don't let the names fool you, sometimes the prettiest girl at the dance is called “George”. And while I am generally of the opinion that beauty is only skin deep, around here beauty goes all the way to the bottom. Every place seems like the water is crystal clear, then the next place it is clearer still. Its like saying this pole is vertical, and the next is more vertical. Can't be … but it is.

The anchorage at Allen's Pensacola

As might be expected with a one night stand, somewhere far into the evening there was a bunch of moaning going on. Last night's was the wind, picking up again to hover in the 20+ knot range to caress our rigging. It also set the boat to dancing and had her tugging hard against the anchor chain. (Okay – some one night stands are kinkier than others.) By all accounts we can expect the wind to keep us company until Sunday morning, with the little barbs on the GRIB files pointing directly up the short path to Green Turtle. Flags for 5 feet worth of waves accompany the barbs and while those are not “no-go” conditions, they don't make for a fun day either. Green Turtle is only 5 miles away. We still have some water. Not sure how much, (the gauge on the 79 gallon tank has become one of those “we should fix that” things that will probably bug us until it gets done) but even if we run dry there is enough beverage on board to see us through. Heated salt water will serve for washing both dishes and bodies for a day if necessary. All told there is no reason to push that hard, so we decided not to and will spend a little more quality time enjoying the caresses of Nunjack Cay.

A well-appointed cruising ketch we passed on the way to Nunjack

We are close enough to Marsh Harbor that several of the boats around us are charter Cats and Beneteaus. I have stated before that many of the best sailors I know are regular charter types, but we finally got to see some charter boat antics here in Nunjack. The first was as we set up to drop our sails off of a starboard tack on the way in . A charter Cat was closing in on our starboard side, under power even though she was on the perfect point of sail to let fly her jib and make the fast tracks that big Cats can make. The only person visible on board was standing half way forward on the starboard side hull, on the other side from us. There was no one at the helm. The boat was clearly being driven by the auto-helm while her captain (?) gazed at the anchored boats off his starboard side. We checked up since it was clear there would be no change of course on the part off the Cat.

Kintala would have been doubled T-boned about the time her main fell into the lazy jacks.

The guy did wave to as we passed his stern, though I am not sure exactly how he managed that. With one hand wrapped around the stay and the thumb of his other hand clearly wedged in his butt, waving was quite a trick. Then again, maybe it was his head wedged in his butt, in which case how could he see which way to wave? In any case, any of the charter sailors from home would have slapped this guy silly for his complete lack of water-going competence. Pam would likely have just tossed him overboard. (No harm to be done since it was an easy swim to shore. From there he could catch a ride back to the airport and go deep inland, back where he apparently belongs.)

A couple of hours later another charter Cat pulled several boat lengths off Kintala's port side, dropping her hook onto the clean sand bottom. She then backed down on the short rode with both of her engines running hard, promptly dragging said hook a couple of hundred feet along the bottom. (At least this guy was looking around and standing at the helm.) Some more chain was played out and the boat stood fast as her engines came up to power yet again. It must be some new anchoring technique they are teaching at charter captain school. Maybe the idea is to pile a big mound of sand in front of the anchor? Yeah, that must be it. Since they came to their final resting place well down-wind of us, it made no difference to my world.

An abandoned wreck off the Hog Cays. She was beautiful once.
That world is noticeably less tense than it was last year. These are familiar waters and the Abacos really are, as was once described to me by a long time visitor, a “Dude ranch for sailors”. Sure, accidents can happen anywhere. Any big body of water can play harder than humans and their boats can stand. And we are still learning. But this is not an accident prone kind of place. There are lots of spots - really pretty spots - to sit out a blow (hurricane season is months away yet). And we are comfortable making the boat go in an ever widening set of conditions. Year one of cruising was no walk in the park. Year two got off to a rough start. But things are coming together and we are having a lot of fun. Somewhere, someone should suggest that, anyone who is thinking of doing this, needs to give it at least a two year chance.

A one year stand is not enough time to learn one's way around.

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