Friday, June 15, 2018

New Water

It was with a bit of reluctance that we dropped the mooring ball in St. Augustine and headed north. One of the best stops on that first trip South was spending Christmas at St. Augustine, so we like hanging around the place. But hurricane season is already here and Blowin’ In The Wind is still far ahead.

A couple of days later Sister’s Creek also managed to capture us for a few days. When we arrived a swift current was flowing upriver, carrying us past the dock in the narrow channel. The plan was to turn the boat around in a wide spot we knew about from being there before, then approach the dock into the current. The wide spot was completely potted over, tossing that plan into the dust bin. As the dock swept past, Deb asked what I was going to do. I didn’t have a clue. With no other option I started goosing the Beast without mercy while holding the helm hard over, trying to get the bow to swing up into the current without smashing it into the dock. Maybe Deb would be able to lasso a cleat or a piling from the bow, snub us up, and let the current swing the stern to the dock.

But she didn’t need to. The bow kept coming around without the boat going forward much. The angle of approach got better and better. The hull came to rest parallel to, and about six inches from the dock, bow into the current, the now-just-off-idle Beast holding us stationary against the flowing water. Deb took the small step to the pier, cleated lines fore and aft, and there we were. It was a perfect landing the would look good on my new Captain’s license.

It was also pure luck.

The first night we shared the dock with a really nice looking trawler, but we never saw any hint of the crew. Night two had us sharing space with three other boats, and then sharing drinks, stories, and jokes. It was a good time. Two boats left the next morning, the third the morning after with new friends Kelly and Melissa. But later that afternoon we were joined by another nice looking trawler. This one had a friendly crew and some good stories of their own.

Another reason for our stay was less obvious: we simply couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do next. The debate was to go outside, catching up to Blowin’ In The Wind in one big jump. That would also allow us to bypass the shallow bits on this part of the ICW. Shallow bits that are not my favorite part of taking the inside path. But we have never been through Georgia before and it has been two years since Kintala put new water under her keel. A schedule change for Blown’ In The Wind means we have an extra week to catch up. Should we make the outside jump, we would have to find a place to just hang on the hook for more than a week. Why not see some new places? A last consideration was the unrelenting thunderstorms that have flowered every afternoon for weeks. It is comforting to be sitting secure when the winds blow, the lightning flashes, and the rains fall.

That was on our mind because, just two miles short of settling onto the dock at Sister’s Creek we had, for the first time in five years, made a quick stop in the face of an oncoming storm. As the lightning fell and the rain shield slashed its way toward us, Deb pulled the boat a few feet off the channel while I moved to the foredeck to toss the hook. It hit the water just as the rain found us, setting hard as the wind gusts pushed us backward. The snubber went on and stretched out without any help from the Beast. About a quarter mile away a Coast Guard Cutter went to station keeping, stopping dead on their approach to the channel and then using their massive engines and bow thrusters to hold position as the storm crashed over us.

A storm too big for a Coast Guard Cutter to dance with is way too much for Kintala. Every afternoon has been the same, the storms then rampaging offshore every night. We are not huge fans of night passages anyway, though we do them when we need to. But night passages and the kinds of storms we have been seeing these last few weeks? No thanks. After a lifetime making a living in the sky I try to avoiding having that kind of excitement in my life.

So we are in new water tonight, anchored between islands just north of the St. Mary’s inlet. The worst of the storms appear to be past. Tomorrow we will start to pick our way through Georgia, figuring it will take five or six days as we balance the tides against the miles and the shallow spots, aiming to be at anchor before the evening light show starts. Sometimes a not-favorite-thing-to-do can still be something worth doing.


Allan S said...

Great entry! I was right beside you in spirit while you were docking in that current:)

It was great meeting you and Deb in Boot Key after years and years of reading your blog.

I finally left Florida after being plagued with the same breakdowns you two had. I'm relaxing in Cuba and my wife has joined me here:)

Off to Havana Monday then Mexico hopefully.

Cuba is beautiful and friendly and most importantly, affordable for those of us on a budget.

Safe travels.....Allan

TJ said...

Good to hear Allan. Someday we may make it to Cuba but, right now, north an family call.

Unknown said...

I fully understand that I am in no position to offer any advice to you guys on boat handling, but I found myself in a similar situation docking-wise, returning from a charter to a fuel dock. The wind was very strong from nearly dead aft and so I was being blown past the fuel dock. Add to this that there was already one very expensive boat at the fuel dock (it would accommodate two boats) downwind of where I needed to be. I took three shots at it, but could not get close enough going slow enough to please the guy from the charter company so he kept waving me off (another boat had hit the dock earlier that day I later found out). Complicating issues was that fact that the guy from the charter company was French Canadian and about half of his suggestions were in French (which I can only speak 10 words of). Also, the guy in the downwind boat was getting a bit nervous, to say the least. He had his whole crew on the stern ready to fend off. I finally gave up and went further into the marina and tried to back into a turn-around so I could get headed back to the dock head to wind, but the wind would not allow the bow to come all the way around. It would get to about 90 deg. backing in and then get blown off before I could get in forward and come all the way around. Add to this the fact that there were of course million dollar plus boats everywhere. To make a long story short, the charter company sent a guy in a dink who tied off on my stern as I was running out of marina. This guy was a total pro. He put the engine in reverse and backed upwind all the way back to the fuel dock past the downwind boat and brought the stern to the dock as pretty as could be done. I gave the line handler an aft line and the boat pretty much snuggled right up to the dock. I felt like an idiot of course. The guys from the charter company were polite to point out that someone had hit the dock earlier that day (I saw the dent in the two inch deck boards) and that many people had trouble getting in that day. What was even more impressive however was the guy that took the boat to the berth. I could explain it, but without pictures, it would be hard to communicate. Anyway, next time I have that situation, I am going to try backing up to the dock. Not sure I could pull off the maneuver the guy did to get it in the berth. Never even touched a piling and noone had to fend off. It was a thing of beauty.