Saturday, October 17, 2015

Clown Car …

No, I'm not talking about the still-a-year-to-go Presidential campaign. (Though I completely understand why “clown car” has become the catch phrase to describe many of those trying out for the position. It is tempting to compare them to little girls trying out for the cheerleading squad, but those kids are all smarter, more adult, and probably better leaders. Hell, any one of them would probably make for a better POTUS. I'll vote for the 14 year old who got an “A” in science class – thank you very much.) Unfortunately, today's clown car was Kintala bashing her way across the Albermarle sound.

With yours truly behind the wheel.

This was our third day out after our stay at Severn River. Day one put us at Hospital Point. It was kind of fun to be there again, two years after our first trip. We met and rafted up with Kokopelli and her crew, having last seen them in Back Creek. There were a dozen or so other boats there as well, and the next morning we headed off with the rest of the pack. At the end of day two we were rafted up with Kokopelli once again, this time at the dock at Coinjock. (Sometimes it is hard to stay off of docks, particularly in the ICW. It can be hard to find a good anchorage when you need one.) Today, day 3, had us aiming to cross the Albermarle; a bit of water with a nasty reputation. Not today though; the forecast had the winds at less than 10 knots, waves less than 1 foot.

And I believed them.

We were near the end of a long line of boats leaving Coinjock this morning, so I wasn't the only one skunked by the weather guessers. Everybody was getting thumped a bit, with Kintala's bow regularly going clean under in the steep, short coupled waves. The anchor is on the bow; its big, flat, spade shaped blade hitting the waves broad side on. So it is a good idea to have it securely mounted in its roller; chain pinned, cable looped over the shank to keep it from bouncing, and lashed to the bow pulpit. Kintala had 1 out of 3.

To me the big risk on the ICW is the WesterBeast calling it a day at a bridge or in a narrow cut. Should that happen the best option for avoiding disaster is having the hook pretty much set to pitch off the deck to bring proceedings to a damage-less halt. In the Albermarle today the big risk was pitching the hook off the deck and bringing proceedings to a disastrous, hull crunching halt. As soon as we had room we turned off the wind so I could go forward and fix my mistake, but it was a somewhat tense few minutes before we had that kind of room.

Then there was the sail work … or lack thereof. Kintala needs horse power to plow through waves, something sorely lacking in the Beast. The main, with at least one reef and maybe two, would have been perfect. Along with the staysail, Kintala could have punched her way happily through the waves all day long. Unfortunately the main was rigged to go up full but the jack lines were not rigged at all. (We are in the ICW, who needs jack lines to keep from falling off the boat in the ICW?) The head sails could provide the needed push to help the Beast, but I could not seem to make anything work right today. The roller furlings would not roll or furl without snags, snarls, and various “now what's the matter”s. Twice the staysail sheets got so tangled up someone had to go out on the foredeck to untie the knots. (Fortunately at times when the jack lines weren't missed.) Near the end of the day we were far, far off the wind. The jib jibed, un-jibed, back winded, flopped around, got put away (painfully slowly) and replaced by the staysail – again. Then the staysail jibed, un-jibed, back winded, flopped around, and got put away (also painfully slowly). All of this while trying to stay in the excruciatingly narrow channels that make up parts of the ICW. (It is hard to hold a point of sail when the water a few boat lengths off the channel is two or three feet deep.)

Fenders flopped around – which happens when they get tied at only one end. My toes got tangled up in lines. (Fortunately I was wearing shoes, which doesn't happen that often anymore!) The anchorage we were planning to use looked untenable in the winds and waves, so we pushed on south while watching the sky, finally finding a place to anchor that looked protected from the oncoming weather.

Weather that promptly died once the anchor was set.

It was that kind of day.

Kokopelli at anchor at the north end of the Alligator Pungo Canal

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My wife and I have a vacation home on the Albemarle Sound. It is always interesting to me that the Sound has such a reputation as being difficult, since I grew up sailing there. On the plus side, the water is fresh and if you are sailing there in the summer, you can swim to your heart's content and not have to worry about washing off the salt. The water is very thin on the edges so you do have to watch the contours if you have a deep keel, but out away from the shore, it is awesome. Next time through, you should stop in Edenton. It is a really beautiful town, founded in the early 1700s. There are several nice towns. You might detour up to Washington NC on the Pamlico. Also a great little down. And don't forget Columbia! A tiny place but it has a great restaurant. Anyway, next time through, some in the early summer/late spring and do a tour of the whole area. You could spend several weeks sailing around the "Inner Banks". You won't regret it. If we are down, you can even overnight at our place! We have a pig-picking every July 4th that you won't soon forget.