Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cold winds

The crew of Kintala is still reeling from losing Greg. The world is muffled, and there is a general feeling of being distracted and distant. A day was lost hiding behind Chicken Island. The run to Titusville was a good sail on a cold day, but all good thoughts about the day got washed away with the news from PA.

A second day was lost in Titusville. We bounced and shivered at anchor while the winds blew and the temperatures dropped. Nights were near unbearable with the snubber line groaning under the strain of the moaning winds. Just about the worst noises that can be imagined for a pair of heavy hearts lying in a dark v-berth. Finally, in the wee hours of this morning the winds faded, the boat quieted down, and the dark became a place of refuge rather than a background for grief. Sleep finally crept in just before the dawn.

Deb was up first, checking the weather. There were all kinds of warnings out for more wind coming to stir up the water. There was even a small craft advisory for the ICW. But, for all that, the morning was quiet and cold. She rousted me out of the berth with the smell of fresh coffee and the idea that we should get while the getting was good. A run to an anchorage about half way to Vero could be finished before the worst of the weather moved in. It sounded like a good plan to me. Titusville, through no fault of its own, was a place I dearly wanted to put behind us.

We dressed with all the layers we could find, shook the WesterBeast to life, dragged the hook out of the mud, and motored off in flat water. For the first couple of hours it seemed like the forecast was likely wrong. Around 1200 there was enough wind to spin the little head sail out to help the Beast along. The GPS speed jumped to 7. A bit later we stowed the staysail and let fly the working jib. GPS speed jumped to 8+ and we literally blew past a nice looking ketch rig that had taken to the ICW ahead of us. A bit after that and it seemed wise to give in to the still building winds, stow the jib and put the staysail back to work. The little sail and a loafing Beast still had us moving along at a steady 7 plus. 

(The only speed reference we have is the GPS. Boat speed is a guess as that thing stopped working after we left Stuart. It has been way too cold to jump in the water to fix it. Wind speed is also a guess as that thing apparently got tweaked by a bird in Stuart as well. We haven't seen the kind of weather needed to go up the mast. The tachometer is toast too so, right now, we are “old school” sailors. We set the RPM based on tone and feel. Sail choice comes from looking at the water, facing the wind, and feeling the boat. If it “feels” wrong we do something different. I guess we have learned a little bit about doing this. One of these days though, Deb really should do something about getting the deck monkey into gear to get some of this stuff working.)

Seven knots is roughly twice as fast as what we saw going north a couple of weeks ago. Eight knots is flat galloping. We blew past our intended stopping point at 1400 and pressed on for Vero Beach. With nearly an hour to spare before the sun went down we picked up a mooring ball, having covered just over 64 nm in just under 10 hours. On the ICW, with sails flying.

The world is never going to be the same as it was when we set out south after this last summer's boat work in Oak Harbor. Death has visited our family twice since then. We have struggled with bitter winds and endless rains. The Island are out of reach. But the cold run on this day got us to Vero. There was a long hot shower waiting on shore. It will still be cold tonight, but not as cold. The boat sits quiet, secure, and still. There are friends nearby, and words of encouragement over the internet. Pictures from the week in Daytona with Daughter Middle and Family bring smiles and warm hearts that have been touched by cold winds.

It will be good to sail in short sleeves and bare feet again, but that is still some distance away. Right now Vero feels like a good port in a storm, being here again is a relief.

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