Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Good Weekend or a Bad One?

Normally, winter here in Florida equates to really great sailing weather. Last year we enjoyed a great week during Thanksgiving when we sailed to Tarpon Springs and then on New Year's Eve we anchored out with friends for the holiday. Needless to say, none of that happened this year as it's been one of the worst winters on record as if anyone needs me to remind them.
But, since summer will be here before we know it, we're trying to anchor out as often as we can before we become 'marina bound' yet once again. And now that I think about it I realize I've forgotten how lucky we are that the Gulf is easily accessable and that we have many anchorages nearby. We can go out sailing for the day, come in to the bay to anchor for the night, and then spend as much time on the hook as we want the next day as we can motor home within an hour.
Lately we've been anchoring out in an attempt to test our solar panels and wind generator and a couple of weeks ago we finally had success. So this past weekend we headed back out knowing we would have a totally relaxing and peachy keen time.

You can't go wrong with breakfast mimosas in the cockpit.

along with sausage, eggs, toast, and french press coffee.

We spent the evening in the cockpit since it was so calm and we also had a full moon. During the night the wind kicked in and by morning Windy our wind generator was hard at work keeping our batteries charged.

Here our gauge reads 15 amps. We saw it hit 18 several times. Wow! Our batteries were charging at over 14 volts, more than we get on shore power.

So, yes, it was a beautiful evening but if you know Hans and me you know something surely had to go wrong. We towed the dinghy behind us because I wanted to use it at the anchorage so I could scrub the port side of the Knotty Cat. I can't do this in the marina since there's a boat right beside us. About the only thing I managed to accomplish with this little plan was to pull more muscles in my arms than I knew I had. Even though it was a calm day the water was very choppy due to all the weekend/St. Patty's Day traffic (I love power boats that roar through anchorages zipping past boats and totally oblivious to our pesky anchor chains) and I tried very hard to balance in the dinghy in order to scrape some old tape residue left over from last year. One moment I'd be poised above the sticky mess and the next I'd find myself far below it. I slammed up and down, up and down all the while clutching the deck in order to balance myself. I actually felt myself getting sea sick and finally gave up. We then hoisted the dinghy onto our foredeck so we wouldn't have to tow it back to the marina the next day which was probably the smartest thing we did all week end.

Why do propane tanks always seem to kick when you're especially starved and in the middle of cooking dinner (of course you don't realize this until you open the oven door an hour later and dinner is still raw)? I'm happy to report we have a spare tank and I had remembered to buy potato chips. We finally sat down to dinner at our little cockpit table and I was starting to feel really good about being at anchor when WHAM! something hit me square in the face. I was soaked and when I opened my eyes I saw the cockpit covered in purplish/red splashes and my wine glass rolling all over the floor. My hair, shirt, and only pair of good shorts (cream colored and why I wore them to anchor out I have no idea) were soaked. WTF! Hans looked stunned and then said the wrong thing, "That's not a proper holder for that wine glass." because in the process of standing up he'd swept his big German arm over the helm pod which happens to have cup holders which happened to be holding my very full plastic wine glass, and while I know nothing about physics, his hand caught my glass in such a way we had ourselves a perfect storm. It looked like a massacre had taken place. Thank God for Krud Kutter and I mean really, since every time we turned around we were finding dried red wine stains, and one squirt of that stuff took care of it. Later that night I discovered even the back of my head hadn't escaped and my hair was matted with dried wine. I said the hell with it and went to bed.

When I woke up on Sunday morning I found I ached all the way to my armpits thanks to my boat cleaning efforts, but hey, that's what mimosas are for. Shortly after breakfast when it became very apparent that the 25 knot winds ripping through the anchorage had indeed arrived about 8 hours sooner than predicted and were not going to go away, we decided we may as well head back to the marina.

We probably should've gone in as soon as we woke up but I'm the one who resisted and kinda hoped the wind would die down. All I wanted to do was sit in the cockpit, listen to 'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me' on NPR, and read my latest library book. But there's something about relentless wind (even though the wind generator was doing its thing) that gets on my nerves and I agreed we may as well head back in.

We bounced through the bay that by now had white caps and I sincerely hoped that it wasn't blowing too badly in our marina. But it was and I was really glad the dinghy was out of the way and we wouldn't have to deal with it in the water. Normally as soon as we get to the entrance of our marina and start down the alley (as I call it) the wind seems to disappear as we're very protected here. But even though it wasn't as windy as it was out in the bay it was still blowing something like 16 knots and my heart started to race when I saw a line of boat masts tick-tocking in their slips. Hans warned me we needed to get this right the first time as once he started backing into our slip I would need to snag and hold tight to the line on our starboard side piling or we'd slam into the boat to port. I had the line in hand but I had to work my way around our dinghy's outboard which is secured at the stern of the Knotty Cat. No way could I keep enough tension with just one hand and for the moment it took me to get around the motor we were hard on the port side piling. Not such a bad thing as this kept us off the boat next to us and Hans used it to pivot on while I got both hands back on the piling line. Even with putting everything I had into it while walking the boat back into the slip, Hans had to hit our engines hard to keep her from sliding sideways in the wind. Luckily a couple from down the way showed up just then and while I was still pulling for all I was worth up front Hans was able to toss them a stern line and they helped fend us off. And just like that we were in.

And if I thought my arms hurt earlier... when we were finally all tied up I realized my fingers felt like someone had tried to pull each one out of its socket.

Wilbur loves to go sailing but it seriously wears him out. And please, no more bouncy seas!

Of course there's always the work involved getting things back in order after being out. Reconnecting to shore power, running all the hoses, cables, etc... that we use in the slip, hosing off the anchor (which had more gunk on it than I've ever seen, we were really dug in), rehanging our sun shade, and getting things back out that we store while underway. Finally, and not until all that was done, I got my shower. I walked into the salon feeling very clean and happy that my hair wasn't dyed red from the wine when I saw Wilbur crouched in that all too familiar puking pose. On our tiny piece of carpet. Of course I didn't get to him in time so instead of one huge pile of gross puke to clean up, I now had a huge pile plus the trail he left when I tried to get him off the carpet. Hans had been sitting just a foot or so away from him and never saw this coming and I was just waiting for him to say that carpet is not a proper place for a dog to puke.

But when you think about it, our solar panels soaked up the sun, our wind generator hummed in the wind, our anchor light glowed all night and didn't drain our batteries, the refrigerator never had to be turned off, we enjoyed a beautiful night complete with a full moon, we didn't drag at anchor, the cockpit didn't suffer permanent wine stains (nor my hair), we got back into the slip under pretty crappy circumstances without any damage, and Wilbur got a thorough cleansing.

At the end of the day I guess you could say we did have a peachy keen time!


1 comment:

  1. Yep, sounds pretty good to me! I can't wait to get the sails back on our boat ... and anchoring overnight would be heaven .. I think, I hope! LOL!