Friday, March 27, 2015

The Beast gets a break …

Crab Cay anchorage on Little Abaco Island
Kintala has pointed her bow westward and is starting the trek back toward the US of A. The disappointment of having to leave the Islands after barely a month is balanced by those we are sailing toward. Family awaits in Annapolis and Pittsburgh. Then there are Daughters (3), Son-in-Laws (2), and grand kids (soon to be 9) in Indianapolis and St. Louis. There is a chance to sell the condo, (hopefully a good chance) and to see some old friends at Carlyle as well as St. Louis.

We left Green Turtle and sailed back to Nunjack, spending four nights in our new favorite place. Then left Nunjack for Crab, spending two night in one of our favorite places from last year. From Crab we headed for Fox Town to do some provisioning in another of our favorite places. (Can you tell we like this part of the world?) That last leg was on Tuesday.

Did I mention light wind?
Even with the pole up the sail was challenged
We managed to sail off of the anchor to start the day, then on to the anchor to finish the day; thus giving the WesterBeast a break. Not a big deal in the sailing world, but a "no engine day" was a first for us on Kintala in water more open than Carlyle Lake. The wind was very light which required patience, nursing the most we could out of the sails, and keeping track of the arrival time to make sure we were in by nightfall. It was the second time in Fox Town and the approach is pretty open and easy. But there are shallow spots and rocks to avoid and the overcast sky would make, once the sun disappeared, for a dark hard to describe to city dwellers. We would have woken up the Beast rather than try the approach at night, but managed enough speed to arrive in the late afternoon.

By then the wind had picked up a little and we were doing four knots for the first time since leaving Crab. Getting into the cove brought us up ever more tightly on the wind, a perfect setup. We rolled in a bit of the head sail, than a bit more, than a bit more. Deb picked her spot and spun Kintala the rest of the way up into the wind. I rolled in the last of the jib then took a leisurely stroll up the deck. Just as the boat's forward speed bled away to nothing the Mantus splashed and grabbed hold of the bottom. The wind provided enough push to set the hook, and the day was done.

Sunset reward after a perfect day.
It was a normal day of sailing and a small accomplishment, but it gave us a sense that we are getting better at this. Still, we have a thousand nautical miles to go, across the Stream, up the East Coast, and through the Chesapeake, to get where we need to be. Again, not such a big deal in the world of cruising, a thousand boats will be doing the same thing in the next couple of months. But still a big enough deal to us to make patience and careful planning watch-words to keep close until we reach Oak Harbor.

Patience and careful planning are not new, particularly to someone who spent a career in aviation. But in my land life patience and careful planning could take a back seat once the front door was closed upon arriving home. Unless a tornado came by the house wasn't likely to go anywhere. The winds could blow, the rain and snow could fall, but inside all was safe and secure. The water “tanks” were always full, there was milk in the 'fridge and, if not, the store was only two blocks away. Unlike Island stores, US stores always have milk, and meat, and fresh fruit and veggies. The big screen TV always had ready access to a fast Internet connection. Good for entertainment but even better for checking weather. (Not the Big Screen but the Internet connection.)

The companionway on Kintala isn't anything like the front door of the house. That isn't to say we never feel safe and secure “out here”. With the Mantus well set in the placid and clear water of a protected yet sparsely populated anchorage, cold one in hand as the sun sets on a perfect day, it is hard to feel any more safe and secure. There is no TV blaring the latest bad news, no sirens in the streets or helicopters hunting overhead. Sometimes after the sun goes down, particularly on a clear night with the sky ablaze, it is so quiet that the stars themselves seem to be whispering. (Which, I will admit, takes a little getting used to.)

Yet, even then, there is a little bit of guard left up. If you don't think so, make a loud noise that can't instantly be identified, then watch how fast the cold drink gets set aside and the crew jumps to.

After much debate it was decided that, rather than racing an impending cold front to Great Sale this morning, a slightly better choice would be to wait it out here in Fox Town. Kintala is going to be pretty exposed to the west winds the rest of today and most of tonight, so it remains to be seen if it was a good call or no. Green Turtle is the only really protected spot in this part of the Abacos, but is too far away and in the wrong direction to be of any use to us for the upcoming weather. Buy a ticket, take the ride.

The next few stops will(?) be Great Sale, Mangrove, West End, and the US, maybe Fernandina Beach off the St. Mary's Entrance. At roughly 275nm, West End to Fernandina would be the longest passage we have made, so we are still thinking about it. Another one of those “not a big deal in the cruising world...but”, and the Beast will likely have to get up for at least part of that one.

More Bahamian water pictures, these of the faint ripples on nearly flat water...

Looks a bit like a Windows 7 wallpaper, no?


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