Friday, January 04, 2008

The memories we keep

A friend (Al Winnans) just wrote about the high winds out in San Francisco just now and this note just poured out back to him....

On my boat trip, we anchored in Nantucket, planning to stay only 2-3 days and see things and move on. We had to go at a certain pace to beat winter down into warmer climes. (didn't succeed...we were still in the Carolinas at the beginning of November).

Anyway, the anchorage area was protected from all directions but one...wide open to the jetty leading west, back into the Vineyard. Fifty knot winds hit that last night. It was pitch black and ,one by one , under that black sky, we heard boats slipping ahead of us and dragging back tangling over other boat anchors and uprooting them. It was a mess. We started the engine...a little outboard to keep the heaviest pressure off our line and used it to weave to one side when we saw a big shadow floating back towards us...just praying it wouldn't get our line. That was one night when I asked myself if I was crazy doing this (one night of many, as it turned out:-).

The next morning it was bedlam. We were the leading line of boats. the others were jammed in behind us. A few found spots in the marina. The winds stayed up for seven more days. we ran out of ice and food but couldn't leave the boat. The chop was too high to row in so we beeped for the marina boat service...a big dinghy with a motor that picked you up for a buck for shore. I went in since R was better with the engine if it kicked out, took my backpack and came back with loads of food.

We tried to leave one morning when it seemed calmer. Were halfway out the narrow jetty when a big fishing boat flew by us and hailed us telling us it was still too dangerous out there for a boat our size and to turn back. As we started to turn , a coast guard boat went by really fast leaving a wave that rolled us from side to side. I was in the process of securing things inside but hadn't finished since this was a last minute go. Everything flew all over. The cat,terrified,lept onto my lap and dug her claws in. I soon felt something warm and knew she'd peed on me. Then I realized I was so scared that I'D PEED , TOO!! Gads.

We got back in, anchored, cleaned up the boat, cleaned up me and were finally able to leave the next day.

The two times remotely that scary were when a huge storm hit us in the Neuse river and when we had a long run down the Jersey Coast all night with the winds and seas so high behind us that we were surfing with just the storm jib up. It was whoosh, and up went the boat and then down the side of the wave. Get broadside to one there and you'd roll.

It's a wonder I survived. but those are the times I remember the most. Odd about how memories work, isn't it. It's not the mundane. It's the thrills, the chances we take.

This is R's back on Little Adventure before the stormy days. Look closely and you'll see Monster, my cat, inside, unaware of what was yet to come!

This was on the Neuse River, North Carolina. We were traveling temporarily with the other boat and both of us set out two anchors when we saw the storm approaching. The trees and shoreland in the distance kept the chop down, but both boats tugged ferociously on their anchor lines when the worst of the winds hit.


Monique said...

That was quite a fright! I'm surprised that you did more of those trips.

Memories are fantastic. What I find really surprising is the cat! You usually see dogs on boats because cats are so territorial. It was only my siamese who would come for long walks. The others would follow a short distance and then turn back.

Thank you for voting Pris. It was a close run between Grindhirst and Fathers and Daughters but Grindhirst won by one vote.

I have posted the first seven scenes.

Pris said...

We saw a few cats on our trip and even one monkey. Monster, however, did NOT like this trip at all. I felt bad for her but we had no idea where we would end up when we left and no-one we could ask to watch out for a cat for an indefinite period of time.

Pat Paulk said...

Not a sailor, but, I do love houseboating. Having 3 to 4 feet of draft the wind plays havoc with docking, and riding out storms though.

Anonymous said...

Gosh...I have no desire to be at sea...ever. I think the most daring I would go, would to travel up the canals of Britain, and that would be it.
I went deep sea fishing once!...never again.

Pris said...

Hi Pat
With the windage on houseboats it's a wonder you could do anything at all with much wind.

I hated deep sea fishing, too, but because of the constant roll of the boat as it sat in one place. A friend of mine in Dorset took her two (then) small children up the canals there in Britain and loved it!