Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First Times - November 9, 2009

The wind is calm.  The waves, all 6” of them, flow past Reboot quietly.  The anchor rode hangs down from the bow.  It is dusk, and everything is quiet.  Quiet is strange.  Sailboats are always making noises.  The slap of the waves against the hull; The sound of the wind thru the rigging; Pumps, refrigerator, radios, there always seems to be some noise.  It is so quiet that I can hear the propane flowing out of the stove as it heats water for my dinner.


Why is this remarkable?  For the last 48 hours I have been stressed out waiting to see if Hurricane Ida would chose to take all of my possessions.  I have been checking the weather, conversing with other sailors, getting Reboot ready for strong winds and high seas.


One thing was certain.  I could not stay at Mulberry Cove Marine, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.  I have been docked on the face dock, a location for transients and also the only place deep enough for Reboot.  With a 22 mile fetch the face dock is not a place to be with heavy winds from the South quadrant.  Boats are picked up and deposited on top of the dock by the storm surge.  I knew this to be true as I had met a couple in NOB Norfolk who had just gotten their boat back after 4 months in the yards.  It had been severely damaged right where I was docked.


One option was to move to another marina.  It would be an expensive and not necessarily a good solution.  None of the local marinas are particularly well protected.  In a slip one runs the risk of damage from the marina itself.  The second option, and the one I chose, was to anchor on the southeast side of the St John River.  I would be protected from the strongest winds by the trees on the bank, and from the waves by the short ½ mile fetch.  Of course I had to find a place that was deep enough so that the keel would not bottom out in high waves but close enough to shore to get some protection.  In addition, the wind was predicted to “clock”; starting in the Northeast, clocking to the Southeast and South, then the Southwest, and the back to the North. So the spot had to have some protection from at least three sides.   I located a suitable spot, left NAS Jax and headed across the river.


I have been sailing since my early teens.  I have been racing Reboot for years.  I have anchored out numerous times on my way down from Milwaukee.  But I have never before set out with everything I own in the world to anchor where there was a 30% probability of tropical storm force winds.  And I knew something else – I was going to be on the boat as I had no way of getting off once I set the anchor.  Getting the dinghy working has been well down the priorities of my “to do” list. 


Here I sit.  Ida is dissipating over land.  Reboot has bounced me around, strained on her anchor rode, heeled in the strong winds and stronger gusts.  More strong winds are forecast for tomorrow.  Yet I am much more relaxed.  Reboot and I have been there, done that before.  We have checked off the box at anchor, 30 – 35 gusts to 45.  We know we can do it again.

1 comment:

  1. Rain and high winds gusting to 70 mph are forecast for Englands west-country over this weekend.
    "REBEL" is hopefully, secure in her own radle at Weir-Quay boatyard.
    The boats around her on props are all cross braced in case a prop or three should fall away as the yachts rock and vibrate in the gusts.
    "REBEL" is a 34ft long, 4.5 ton, racer/cruiser and we use a 35lb CQR anchor when cruising.
    This is on the basis that a good big-un always beats a good small-un !!
    The final anchor shackle is a load tested, stainless steel type that is about the same breaking load as the 25metres of 8mm chain spliced to 32 metres of 14mm Octoplat rode.
    We also carry a spare 15lb kedge anchor as a doubler or emergency spare.
    A very wise move, to anchor off away from the main fetch.........I've also seen a lot of damage to vessels in exposed marinas.......mainly due to vessels being warped too tightly to the pontoons instead of allowing them to ride off a few feet.
    Cheers ( Hic!)