If you followed my Yellowbrick track as shown above, you know that I am ashore, having tied GANNET in her slip at noon yesterday in rain.
I anchored the preceding night at 10 pm in 60’ of water 13 miles off the entrance to Port Royal Sound. In dying wind I knew I was not going to make it in and with a high barometer I judged that the night would be quiet. It was. The wind died completely and small waves rocking GANNET went flat after a while.
I woke at 5:30 am to the sound of unexpected rain on the deck. I got up and though I was beyond cell phone coverage, I could receive NOAA weather on my handheld VHF and learned that there was a small craft advisory for 20-25 knot winds. Such winds are mere inconveniences to GANNET under sail. At anchor in the middle of no where with zero protection they are serious. With all possible speed I mounted the ePropulsion on the stern and raised the anchor. I had out 150’ of rode, all but the last 20’ ½” plaited nylon. As I have written many times all chain rodes are best, but GANNET cannot carry that weight and using mostly nylon has the advantage that I do not hesitate to anchor in relatively deep water. The rode came in. The anchor came up clean.
We had the fastest sailing of the week on the way in. At first under full sail, then as the wind increased to the forecast 20 knots with a partially furled jib, making 7 knots and an occasional 8 in smooth seas and intermittent rain.
In foul weather gear and sea boots I was on deck, adjusting the tiller pilot’s course and sail trim.
Some of you may recall that when I charged the ePropulsion battery at anchor the first night in Port Royal Sound I could not determine how complete the charge was. When I connected the battery to the shaft I was pleased to see it at 94%. Still I sailed all the way to the first marker at the entrance to Skull Creek, completing the last half mile under partially furled jib alone, before I turned it on. I knew I was going to be powering in Skull Creek against both wind and tide.
I furled the jib and powered slowly, attempting to maintain 2 knots, but our SOG varied from less than 1 to 3. I saw wind strengths of 20 knots to 8 knots. We were in the first third of the outgoing tide. I have no way of knowing its strength, but could see its varying effect on our speed.
There is a long curve to the west in the Skull Creek channel, when I reached the apex of that curve, I checked the battery level and found it at 59%. With a half mile to go I knew we were going to make it to the slip. I had been prepared if necessary to anchor at any time and spend the rest of the day and night recharging the battery, but I really did want to get in and go home and have a hot shower and a cold drink.
Rain had fallen intermittently all morning. The sky was completely overcast.
I put out the fenders and attached the dock lines.
As we approached the marina, there was a dark line in the clouds to the west over Pinckney Island that I knew meant heavy rain. Still I removed my foul weather gear and sea boots and put on my usual boat shoes to be able to move more easily when I docked. I hoped the rain would hold off for ten minutes. In now more than 80 years I have come to understand that my hopes have no standing in the universe. Before I made the turn into A dock heavy rain began to fall. The air temperature was in the mid-60s F, but it made me cold and worse made it more difficult for me to see.
I most see and feel the Skull Creek tides in docking GANNET. I like to dock at bare steerageway. Yet slow too much and the tide moves the boat in undesired directions.
I got the dock lines in place and retired wet into the Great Cabin where I sat for an hour until the rain eased. I made a FaceTime call to Carol. I checked the barometer in my iPhone which I have often tested against shore stations and found to be accurate and saw that the barometer had fallen 13 millibars in 14 hours. That is a quick and deep fall. I am surprised the weather was not more extreme. I removed the ePropulsion from the stern. Put on the mainsail and tiller covers. Put my devices and the still largely full bottle of Laphroaig in my backpack and wearing my foul weather parka in light rain walked home.
I had the desired and much appreciated hot shower. I sipped cold martinis. I ate a microwaved Cuban pork dinner. I watched part of a Robert Redford movie, THE CONSPIRATOR, and went to bed.
I slept until 7:30 this morning. I don’t recall when I last slept that late. During the passage I sometimes fell asleep while reading at Central. GANNET has a very quick motion and three of the five days we were sailing were rough, but I begin to wonder if I am growing old, though of course we know that cannot be true.
Today I moved slowly.
I was still feeling GANNET’s motion more than twenty-four hours after we docked.
I biked down at noon and wrestled the little boat’s interior into harbor mode.
I brought a knapsack of food I had taken to the boat back up to the condo.
I took some videos while sailing. I watched them yesterday and did not think they are of much interest. I will watch them again and if I post any will let you know.
I kept a log.
I have not reread it. I expect I will do so tomorrow and decide whether to post it.
I have already received emails observing that the Yellowbrick failed to upload positions for eighteen hours.
Much of the sailing was rough. The Yellowbrick was knocked from its mount without my being aware of it until I found it under a food bag. I might have knocked it off the mount myself climbing up or back from the deck.
I will write more about the sailing.
It was not the vision I had.
I simply wanted good sailing. I had some, but I had a majority of rough conditions that kept me off the deck and sailing GANNET from below with only brief moments standing in the companionway to trim sails. I can with a remote adjust the tillerpilot course from the Great Cabin.
I have considered whether this was a good thing to do and have concluded that it was.
I did not enter the monastery of the sea, though at times when 150 miles offshore I had the ocean to myself I almost felt I had.
I am still uncertain of my present relationship to the ocean.
I expect to sail again in May. Perhaps again I will simply seek good wind angles. That would be purest. Sailing for itself. But I sense that I need a destination. In my logs at noon I record our position, our course, our speed, the barometer pressure, our day’s run from noon to noon. On this sail changing course so often with the wind, the day’s runs made no sense. I think I need that they do.