To all of you landlubbers, homebodies, worker bees who may be harboring a wistful desire to embark on an ocean adventure, sailing on a sea breeze: Forget it. Disabuse that notion. Don't listen to those glorified boating stories. Stay home.
Under sail, under grey skies
It's more trouble to take care of a boat than a house. And it can be damn uncomfortable when it's damp, cold, windy, wavy. This can seriously handicap your vision of paradise. Or, at least, hijack your adventure.
Calm one day, wild the next! As many grey skies as blue ones.
The forecast for Martha's Vineyard (see yesterday's blog) grew and grew until it was out of proportion to anything we had ever experienced: 40-50 mph winds, 17-foot waves!! The harbormaster at Vineyard Haven ordered all boats in the outer harbor to move inside the town breakwater. A few hours later, he ordered all boats to move again, through a drawbridge into a protected lagoon.
Yikes! A mini-hurricane! And no letup in sight for 3 or 4 days, at least not for wind and seas calm enough for us to get to the music festival in Rhode Island over Labor Day weekend. Me? Miss my fourth play date? No way.
So … instead of moving to the lagoon, we fled before the storm, all the way to Rhode Island—a harrowing 7-hour ocean crossing under gray skies. Strong wind at our back generating 3-6 foot waves. The autopilot couldn't handle the following waves, so Pope and I took turns at the helm. With this experienced first mate on the wheel, our boat surfed nimbly up and down the giant rollers. After all, this was my third extended cruise on Echo II. Ocean crossing? No problem.
Just out of Vineyard Haven, a good omen: a GIANT sea turtle surfaced behind our boat! Head a couple of feet in diameter, massive shoulders bouncing above the waves. Wow!
Entering Newport harbor, under grey skies
The talisman served us well, at least safety-wise. We anchored in Newport, Rhode Island, at dusk and hunkered down beneath growing storm clouds. Minor hiccups (tongue-in-cheek): Anchor dragged twice; finally set. Too close for comfort to other boats, but too dark to re-anchor.
Snug, cozy, and dry, under grey skies? Ha ha.
Relentless rain; damp clothes and towels hanging everywhere. Slow drips from starboard porthole and front hatch. Howling wind, but wind forecast here is for only 20-30 mph! Ha ha. No problem. No ice in the cooler, only warm beer and melted butter.
Take my advice: if you want comfort, convenience, a warm bed, sweet dreams, Jameson on the rocks in the afternoon, and hot toddies at midnight, stay home. On dry immovable land. Shut your windows and curl up in an easy chair with a suspenseful novel about a boat in a storm.
- Written Wednesday, August 30, 2017