Friday, March 3, 2017


... too early to wake up; particularly when it had been near midnight when I climbed into the berth. Though it was a travel day, high tide would not arrive for four more hours. There would be no trying to get through the Black Sound inlet until we were within a hour of that tide. It would take only an hour to prep the boat and be on our way so going back to sleep for a bit would be a good choice. But it was not to be.

A mild hum in the rigging suggested the wind had already outrun the forecast, which did not make me happy. The task for the day was to pass though the Whale, that bit of open water that separates the northwestern part of the Abaco sea from the southeastern part. It can be a finicky bit of ocean that will administer a thorough thrashing to the careless. We had waited an extra day in Green Turtle to take advantage of the forecast for light winds; us, and about a dozen others as well. The light winds were supposed to mark the last day of a weather window to move around the Abacos, followed by four days of winds reaching toward 40 knots. Our plan was to make it to Treasure Cay for the show. We have a long way to go and the calendar now says “March”. Time to get a move on.

Of all the machines I have operated over the years, sailboats still strike me as the most tender, the most susceptible, to bad weather. In reality I am the one who is tender. Though I have ridden motorcycles through the dying remains of a hurricane, driven in snow that had most people looking for a hotel, and flown contently through stuff some people would consider a pure nightmare, I am still unsure of my footing on big water in a 42 foot boot. It is the only machine that has ever made me motion sick to the point of not being able to function, the only machine where – sometimes – I am just not sure of the next thing to do. It frustrates me that this is so.

A check of the weather showed the incoming cold front still a hundred miles away, the forecast even suggesting that the winds would now hang in the low 30s, and fade by early next week. Boats with shallower drafts than Kintala were pulling out all around us. Deb started the coffee. I started to prep the boat for departure. An hour before high tide we dropped the mooring ball and headed off. I pretended to be comfortable and sure; though Deb doubtless knew I was faking.

We slipped though the Whale without a care.

Treasure Cay is different than it was two years ago. It is a full-fledged mooring field now, with just one little spot left clear for anchoring, big enough for maybe four or five boats. We debated a bit, but ended up picking up one of the mooring balls. I am sure it will be fine, but I am not impressed. The balls are small and cheap. The chains running to the bottom are not as big as the one we use to anchor Kintala. The ball we picked up had its pennant chewed about half way through. The bleach bottle float was split and we had to fish the dangling line out of the water. We affixed two of our own lines to the ball, only to be informed when checking in that the rings on top of the balls will not hold up in a blow. We went back to the boat and, using a shackle of our own, fixed our lines to the shackle at the bottom of the ball. It was an awkward little dance, Deb on deck, me in the Ding, to get it set up where we were comfortable. Several of the boats around us have their lines run from a cleat, through the painter, back to the other cleat; a set up likely to chafe badly if the winds blow as forecast. Others are fastened to the ring on top of the ball. I hope the rings are stronger than suggested, and the winds less.

Still, tonight I am content, if a bit embarrassed by this morning's unease. The trip here was short and uneventful, the waters sparking and clear, the little whitecaps of no concern at all. Kintala's newly installed, rebuilt water pump worked fine, though our wind instrument is, once again, on the fritz. We made the right decisions, handled the boat, and are settled in. I am determined to get comfortable doing this, to be at ease in this world.

But it looks like that will be a while yet.

For some reason this sign made me think of our good friend Paul of Lat 43 fame


The Cynical Sailor said...

We've got a photo of that same "Attack Rooster" sign. Made me chuckle to see yours. Hopefully we get out of FL soon and get to see it again in person.

Latitude 43 said...

So far the Roosters are leaving me alone. Can't say the same for the horses.