Saturday, February 6, 2016

Boat Dancing 6 Feb 2016

Boat Dancing

Does one wake in the middle of the night to blog or does one blog in the middle of the night because one is awake?  3am.  Hmmm.

First, some business.  We have been told by several folks that they tried to post comments to our reports and could not.  That should be fixed now, so give it a try if you are so inclined.

If safety and comfort are concerns, and aren’t they always, weather can dictate much of your travel plans when traveling by boat.  Cold and heat are endurable.  Enough wind is a delight.  Wind creates waves. More wind is challenging and harder work and creates bigger waves.  Too much wind is potentially devastating and, combined with the waves it creates, can be lethal. 

We were reminded that much of forecasting is educated guessing.  Predicted waves are an average of the highest one third of the waves seen.  NOAA then tells you to expect occasional waves of up to twice that height.  You might be tempted to brave 3 to 5 foot seas, but what about the occasional 10 footer or higher?  Are those waves coming at your bow so you slice neatly through them or are they hitting you from the side, rolling you first one way then the other?  Is it for an hour or for an amount of time which seems interminable?

So, sailors look for places to take their boats to hide from most of wind and as many of the waves as possible, there to wait for a period of nice weather before moving on.  After all, this is supposed to be a post card vacation, not man against the sea.

Boot Key Harbor is one of those hiding places.  Trees, land and buildings provide 360 degree protection from the waves and partially block the wind.  Partially.  And when wind hits a boat, the boat moves.  Now the boat samba begins. 

Boats at anchor dance back and forth much like a flag waves, but in slow motion.  The dancers are different sizes and shapes so they appear to be dancing to different tunes.  They pull at their anchors as a dancer would pull at a partner’s hand when moving apart but trying to stay together.  Are the boats held to their anchor partners by a line which allows the boat to move and dance quickly or by a chain which acts as a damper?  Does the anchor partner have enough traction on the floor of the harbor to keep from sliding?  Is the anchor big enough and the right design to hold steady against the lunges and pirouettes of its partner?

Prior to the beginning of the dance, some boats do practice moves.  They pick up their anchor partners and wander among the other dancers looking for the best remaining spot on the floor: not too close to the other dancers, or too near posts or the edge of the floor; a spot with good traction for the anchor partner. 

The dance begins.  Some dancers travel miles at the end of their anchor’s tether and yet never leave their spot.

 Much of the fastest dancing happens in the middle of the night and includes kettle drum thunder, strobe lightning and copious rain.    One dancer slips and falls landing aground, stuck at the edge until a helping hand can pull them back to the floor the next day.  Another dancer’s partner loses its grip and its crew must brave the storm to raise the anchor and find a new spot among the other dancers while the wind howls and the rain blinds and the darkness hides the other dancers.  Sometimes the move is less successful and dancers collide amid loud man noises. Morning oft times finds them still tangled.

The dance provides engaging entertainment for those of us who have danced slowly at the end of a strong chain which is attached to a well designed, oversized anchor partner with a good spot on the floor.  We are the successful dancers, this time.  We sleep a little better.  This time.


  1. Abe and Brenda fehrFebruary 6, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    Hey Reggie and Barb, enjoy your posts thst keep us "posted". We've been reading them regularly as well as Ray and Anita's. Also post the occasional comment on go with gusto blog but I'm pretty sure they're not getting them. No worries but can you pass on a best wishes and prayers from Abe and Brenda? As well as to you two. Sounds like a healthy mix of fun and adventure on the high seas. God Bless.

  2. Highly poetic for 3 am! As Shea and Thea (and boyfriend) are off to contra dancing tonight, we'll be waiting to make sure their lines are not tangled come morning.

  3. Hi Reggie.. yes.. the dance is always interesting and entertaining.. watch out for thise NOAA weather guys.. miss you both.. i will one day join you for some sailing time again...

    Be safe..


  4. Hi Reggie.. yes.. the dance is always interesting and entertaining.. watch out for thise NOAA weather guys.. miss you both.. i will one day join you for some sailing time again...

    Be safe..