Monday, November 24, 2014

My poor wife

She puts up with so much.

We are almost exclusively a sailboat, which is just the way I like it. It is remarkable to me how many "sail"boats out here on the water spend a significant portion of their time motorboating around. We have shamed many a boat on our travels into at least unrolling a jib and motorsailing. Not only do we enjoy sailing, we have a boat that is intended to sail, and not motor.

The ICW route involves a lot of motoring, as we cruise down these narrow canals and try to stay out of the way of all the other boats going much faster than us. We are putting our awesome little generator through the ringer, giving it much more work than it was intended for. The most recent canal was 20 miles long, so we started at dawn (about 7:00 around here) and cruised at 2.5 knots (about 2.8 mph, a normal/relaxed walking pace) until 4:30, just before sunset. As long as you channel your inner Huck Finn, and can enjoy lounging on a boat looking at the scenery, it's great. Unfortunately there appears to be some cold weather pattern on the east coast (perhaps you've seen the news from Buffalo, NY?) that makes it hard to relax and lounge. Bundling up in all our ski clothes doesn't really cut it for an idyllic water trip.

Then last night we tied up to a free dock in Belhaven, NC, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately the sea gulls also like it, so the poop is everywhere and gross. We moved to a different slip that was a little cleaner than the first one. During the night a storm (perhaps even a squall, Sipsey) blew through and we started rocking and jerking at the dock lines. About 1:00 am I woke up, listening to the halyards slap on the mast, even though we've tied them away to prevent that, and feeling the movement of the boat and the other noises, labeling and categorizing all of them. Eventually there was a thump I didn't recognize, and didn't like, so I got up to investigate further. Obviously it was raining at this point as well, because why not?

On deck I could immediately tell we had lost our bow-line, and were not being held in the slip properly. I got a flashlight, but never ended up using it because there was enough ambient light from the town of Belhaven to see. The rest of the dock lines appeared to be good, and were holding us without the bow line. The thump was the stern bumping the piling every 20 seconds or so with a big gust/wave combination, since the boat had rotated out of position without the bow line. I asked Jenn to get up and help me.

We put on our foulies (full rain pants and jackets) and sailing gloves and went to work out a solution. The bow line was still attached to the boat, so I hauled it in to prepare to reattach it to the dock piling. Jenn and I pulled on one of the spring lines as hard as we could, to pull the boat upwind towards the dock. When we got close enough, I hopped off with the bow line while Jenn held the boat as best she could against the wind. I put a wrap around the closest piling I could, to take the pressure off her line, and we could rest for a moment. We hauled the boat in again, she got onto the dock, and with the two of us we could make a quick dash to the next piling where we made the final attachment of the bow-line where it originally was. Some adjusting of all the lines, and about 2:00 we were finished, happily back where we started. We added a second bow line. We think there wasn't enough tail on the clove hitch we originally tied, and when the wind picked up it pulled through. It held perfectly the second time, with a little more tail.

The boat has a very jerky movement when tied to a dock in unsettled weather. We aren't necessarily facing into the wind, and there isn't enough space to let the boat roll with the waves. Living on a boat, we've gotten used to the way she moves, and having it stop part way through a roll is awkward. Fortunately we were able to fall back asleep. This morning the boat was filled with wet clothes hanging to dry, and I made coffee for my long-suffering wife.

Today it's warm, and kind of sunny, and we feel mostly human!


  1. Wonder if that is where they got the term "ROCK N' ROLL"!!!! Hope you have a restful night tonight. Keep on taking care of my daughter.....xoxo mama

  2. One good thing about resetting dock lines in the middle of the night in a squall ... you get to remind yourself how lucky you are not be dragging anchor in the middle of the night in a squall. -- mike w.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving! Miss you guys. Stay warm and as dry as you can.

  4. OMG!! I had my "sea bands" on just to read about your motion on the ocean!!! Stay Warm, Well and DRY!!! Much Love Aunt Bev xoxox