With no successful disaster on the past trip in June, why not rush in where angels fear to tread? After all, what could go wrong?
Our friends the Honeycutts have the time now for a short cruise and carrying on a tradition of over 20 years we will go along for at least part of the time. Since we are still in the "try out" stage, we will stay within one day of our home marina. Our goal tomorrow is the Tides Inn, 46 nautical miles away, on Carter Creek off the Rappahannock River. (Remember we are on a sailboat so what to most is a short jump, to us is a major league.) So, ... if the next paragraph, after the date, starts out with "Tides Inn Marina", not much good have gone wrong.
It was a normal trip, which is not to say a good trip. Still we are here, so not bad at all. We knew that the dredge was still working in the very narrow entrance to the Marina. I thought I would get a picture of it as we squeaked by, sort of a, "muerte, pase de la" in a Bull Fight with us as the bull. Click-No- Click.Dead batteries, no picture. Assuming that we would not need the camera again, we guaranteed that we soon would be entertained by a group of dolphin. By the time the camera was ready, the dolphin had gone. It made no difference anyway, because with camera ready two more close encounters went unrecorded. Dolphins jump, Dolphins hit the water, camera clicks. Great picture of the water.
The weather forecast when we left was for 5 knots from the North. Well, or course it was wrong, because the wind was from the South. But, either way, great weather, as long as you were not planning to sail. That was OK, we had our now trusty motor.
We left on a falling tide, which means all the way up the Bay there would be a falling tide ahead of us. This outflow of water from the Bay subtracts 1 to 2 knots from your speed. For most this is inconsequential, for a sailboat it is a major performance hit. Still it was a nice day, quiet and peaceful, until the motor started doing the "RRRRrrr" thing. This time it was executed cleverly; Tachometer reading: 2300...2200...2000....1600...Pause...1800..2000..2300. Repeater about every half hour with a slightly different lower number and/or duration of pause. Sort of the boaters equivalent of "death by 1000 cuts."
Now you might ask "Why didn't you try that electrical pump thing that worked last time." Kay and I were agreed on this: you have to be careful about how you use Magic. Suppose you found a bottle on a beach and the proverbial genie in a bottle grants you three wishes.
That was our situation, we were reluctant to use the only magic trick we had left. Makes sense?
After about three hours of holding our breath every twenty minutes, we were desperate, not to mention, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Next time it happened- I Pulled The Knob - for five seconds, and as if by magic the motor instantly returned to normal and stayed that way until the very end. (Note, however, I did use the word "very".)
Peace at last, and along we went with the Honeycutts on their Hunter 43 about a mile to the West of us. Suddenly we were hit by an enormous wake. We rolled beam's end to beam's end, several times. Neither of us could see the boat that created it, and as it turned out neither could the Honeycutts. As one might imagine, there was much crashing and gnashing of teeth, ours not the dogs who seemed to think that this was part of the fun. Three notable unfortunate results followed this event,
First the wine catapulted out of the wine rack (and shattered). Second, the Air Conditioner decided it had enough. (It turns out water to air, air conditioners do not like to be upside down.) and third, the essential piece of equipment which no one can ever admit that it does not work (lest they admit it worked in the first place) no longer worked. Hypothetically, of course.
Now as to the wine, to obtain proper perspective, carry a couple of bottles of red wine into your bedroom. Turn the ceiling fan on high and throw the bottles at it until they shatter. Now you have the idea. By the way, if anyone knows how to get the smell of hot red wine out of what is essentially a cave please let us know.
As you approach the Tides Inn on Carter Creek, you have to pass by the bow of the 127 foot "Miss Ann", in order, to first locate and then access your slip. As we did this I went forward and at that moment Kay throttled down and said "Oh No, the motor." Now there was not a Damn thing I could do. None-the-less, we coasted around "Miss Ann" and into our slip where Dennis Honeycutt and a dockhand neatly tied us up.
Later I went to the office to register. Going from bright light to dim light is particularly challenging for me. At one point the same person who helped in the docking, handed me something to sign and said "sign here." I signed "There", and he looked at it and then me and said "well I guess it does not matter where you signed as long as your name is there." He realized I didn't have the sharpest eye in the flock. I laughed and said I guess you wonder what I am doing on a sailboat? He replied. "No. You are lucky, I have not seen many woman who could handle a boat the way your wife does.
Again, not much traffic on the waves, either water or radio.
At one point the Coast Guard broadcast a "Pan Pan" telling all, that a man was missing from a boat at Kiptopeke State Park. His description was listed as Hispanic male, about 35, wearing only blue bathing trunks. (We have mentioned Kiptopeke before, it is where the concrete ships are located.) Later the "Pan Pan" was cancelled when "Man discovered standing on the beach."
The Tides Inn Marina, though on the expensive side, is worth the money. Its service fee of $22.50 covers about everything you would expect from a luxury hotel including somethings you wouldn't. THere are three restaurants including one that, up until this visit, required Coats and Ties for Gentlemen. Since every man was by definition a gentleman and since I long ago forgot how to knot a tie (even if I had one), we were not familiar with that dining area. We usually choose the restaurant adjoining the big pool, but last night we made a change and, with Dennis and Karen,the four of us went to the "Chesapeake Room."
When we were given a choice between "Spring Water" or "Sparkling Water", I suspected "trouble", when the corked bottles arrived I knew it. The menu was short but confusing. $27 chicken, OK, got that. Pass. Now I like tuna so when I came to "Sesame Seared Tuna Ahi", I thought what can you do to Tuna? It turns out not much at all, it was pretty much as if it just swam onto the plate. Curious, I later looked it up:"To make seared ahi, you need to start with very fresh, sushi-grade ahi, as you will only be lightly searing the outside, leaving the inside raw. Not even rare, but raw."
Not a good beginning (or end). I spent most of the dinner chasing the tuna around the plate. There was,I thought, a Wasabi sauce, but actually it was a Soy Sauce with a large junk of Wasabi in it. In any case once I caught a piece of the Tuna it tasted quite good when dipped in the sauce. (BTW the lighting was romantic and, therefore, too dim for me to see what I was doing.) With diligence and a lot of coaching from Kay ("It just moved to the right") I tracked down the elusive Tuna, until ...
I found what I thought was a large piece which I assumed I had dropped in the sauce, and then, ... and then - I ate it! Before either my mouth, or throat could start screaming, I heard from my Stomach: "Big Boy you just made a major mistake! Do something about it!"
Fortunately my legs decided to ignore the whole conversation, as did my lungs shortly thereafter. I must have been turning white since both Kay, to my right, and Karen, to my left. were saying "Carl are you OK?" I dared not even attempt to breathe or speak. Meanwhile the whole table was jumping around as the unnamed person across from me was laughing so hard he was shaking the table.
After about ten minutes I could begin to breathe again and was able to utter the word :"Gasp."
My stomach continued for hours using words that would have embarrassed Lenny Bruce. Still all returned to normal, which means that our Air Conditioner now working was now not working.
"Anyone who suspects they are competent need only take up sailing to gain a new perspective."
Our cruising companions the Honeycutts just pulled out of their slip, headed for Yorktown or Mobjack Bay.We will leave tomorrow for Salt Ponds.
Later 3:00 PM
Spent our last day keeping the A/C running while under siege by Sea Nettles bent on invading our boat though the cooler unit water intake. Yet another reason for enjoying a vacation while sailing. All sailors must be optimistic masochists. There is no other explanation for having fun by enduring everlasting frustration.
Yesterday we left Tides Inn under sentence of a very good forecast: "5 to 10 knots from the SE. Waves 1 foot or less." That did not stop us from worrying about the weather, since we have never found the forecasts to be reliable.
Actually worrying about a sailing trip is worthless since you cannot have any idea what may go wrong. Kay has gotten much better at this than I, as I usually start counting all possible disasters and/or malfunctions 24 hours before we leave. I am never right, but not wrong either, something will go wrong, however I will not have thought of it. We planned to leave Tides Inn at 9:00 and at the appointed time all that was left to do was unplug the power plug.
Sad to say it was firmly attached to the boat. Not Kay or I or the strongest man on the dock could remove it. It was now part of the boat.No mystery on removing a power plug from a boat, we have both done it dozens of times. (Later, when we were back in our slip, I removed the seat above the plugin and tried everything to get it out. No luck. Kay said "wait a minute",mentioned she had a hard time plugging it into the socket in the first place, looked at it thoughtfully ...and ... unplugged it.)
We left Tides Inn at 9:30. For the most part the trip was remarkable for what was not said. Never once did either Kay or I mention that the motor was running fine. Not even a single "RRRrrr". We both were thinking of it, but not one word was uttered. Even if you are not so foolish as to believe that words can alter machinery, why tempt fate? ( I bet 90% of cruisers that read this feel the same, though they may be smart enough not to admit it.)
The trip went as the weather predicted, smooth and easy, until we passed the York River entrance channel, then things changed fast and dramatically. 5 to 10 became 15 to 25, mostly on our nose, from the South. The autohelm gave up saying "Your turn." Kay was having a hard time holding the course and her visibility was limited by the spray covering the dodger windows.
If we were young and virile we would have said whoopee and tossed up the sails for the last 12 miles of the trip. We fail on both the first counts and "Tossing up the sails" left the arena about ten years ago. It would take me 12 miles to crank up the Main now-days. Anyway Kay struggled through and found the entrance channel to the Marina, which is close to shore and not easy to pick out under the best of circumstances. We turned to enter the narrow channel with a dredge as before partially decorating the entrance. Two things now happened, against all reason a sailboat was trying to sail out the entrance and the phone rang. The caller was our son, Chris, who had called to tell us he had gone over to the "Dark Side." I quickly described the situation: Wind, waves, narrow, shallow, low tide, idiot coming out. He said "Oh you mean a normal day for you and mom. Call me when you are in the slip."
I will never understand why some sailors insist on sailing where one cannot sail without forcing others into dangerous situations. My guess is that it has something to do with the Mast.
As in the past we negotiated the entrance and headed towards our slip. By now the anemometer is recording gusts to 33 knots, I was at the bow thinking there is in no way in hell Kay in going to be able to back into the slip without a disaster. However, she does. We are here. Not a bump.
After tying up I call Chris.