Sunday, March 25, 2012

after the storm

The storm clouds dissipated which were over us last night as I wrote.  They left behind a crystal clear sky full of brilliant stars, and one storm cloud way off in the distance back lit by intermittent lightning.  After the tense afternoon, it was easy to relax and fall asleep
     We were awakened near midnight by howling winds, rain, black clouds and lightning.  I had to go on deck to secure a loose sail cover in the dark, for which the world is thankful. 
     At times like those, you begin to ponder the merits of going on deck with no shoes, no life vest, no tether, no knife.  It seems like it will only take a short time to do whatever the task is.  Why delay while grabbing and getting into all that stuff when the problem could be getting worse as you waste time preparing for things which have never happened to you.....yet.  So, you rush out not thinking about slipping or tripping or losing  your balance or being knocked overboard where you would be swept away by the current and storm.  Most of us think the guys who "safety up" even in benign weather are rather foolish, but who are the smart ones?
     Today was to be light winds and temperatures in the upper 70's.  We never saw it that way.  We were able to motor-sail for about a half hour.  The rest of the time was mostly cloudy with a head wind, and sometimes adverse current, the combination of which could slow us down to under 4 miles per hour unless we pushed harder, for which there was no reason.
     We were just turning in towards our chosen anchorage for the night when we ran solidly aground.  Barbara calls it "dropping Florida anchor".  There is an unmarked shoal stretching out into the marked channel.
     The tide was going out and a blustery breeze was blowing towards the shoal.  We were fortunate we were at only about 1 foot above low tide, so it would eventually reverse and raise us off the mud.  However, as the incoming tide raised us, the wind could push us farther up the shoal.  What to do, what to do, what to do???
     Kedge!  I climbed into the dinghy and maneuvered it to the bow of "Submit'.  Barbara lowered the anchor plus its 100 feet of chain plus 60 feet of anchor line into the dinghy.  I then backed the dinghy towards deep water and upwind while the anchor rode played out over the dinghy's bow, before dropping the anchor overboard.  After I returned to "Submit", we took up tension on the anchor rode and settled down to a couple games of cribbage while waiting for the tide to come in.  As the tide lifted us, we hauled ourself free with the anchor, "kedging off" for our non-sailor followers.  It was good practice for some time when things could be way more serious than this was.
     A tasty dinner, a glass or two of wine, and a -so far- quiet evening at anchor in Beaufort, SC.

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