Friday, December 16, 2011

Wind! (Gimme Shelter!)

Posted: November 11, 9:33 am | (permalink) | (0 comments)

PB041798 anchorage at Bryan Creek [photo: we spent 5 days in this anchorage]

We carefully planned out the next few days’ travel and then … So much for plans! Not to worry so much about upcoming shoals and tides, now the forecast is for wind wind wind. Our first priority is to seek what shelter is available here in the marshes. What we really want is a snug still cove with trees or bluffs on all sides. Ain’t gonna happen. The marsh grasses here are like the wheat fields of Dan’s childhood – wide and open and flat. There are a few clumps and lines of trees here and there, but nothing like the 360 degree shelter we’d like. Instead, we’ll settle for “less open.” We found Bryan Creek, a creek in the marsh grass, with trees to the northwest. At least there isn’t a wide expanse of water for waves to build, although the grass isn’t tall enough to shelter us from any wind. Well, maybe it would be tall enough at low tide, almost 8 feet lower than high tide. Those big tides meant there would be a lot of current in addition to the predicted gale-force winds; once again we were glad to have invested in an anchor designed to hold a boat half again our size.

We navigated into the creek in the golden late-afternoon sunlight. Pretty spot, a few distant city lights (Savannah, GA and Hilton Head Island) on the horizon. We were delighted to find we had the anchorage to ourselves. Because the wind would push the boat in one direction while the current held it in another we knew it wouldn’t be terribly comfortable, but we would be safe. And we had all the necessities – lots of food, some good books, and internet access. We prepared to wait it out, expecting to be there for at least 3 nights.

The early winds were from the west, and the trees provided delightful shelter. We had some earnest philosophical conversations, read our books, cooked a pot of stew. This wasn’t going to be so bad, just a cozy little stay-at-home break from our travels. I could do this!

That was Day 1. By Day 3, the wind was even stronger, and had moved around to the northeast and the trees were no longer protecting us. The boat vibrated in the gusts and it was LOUD. Every gust distracted us – will something break? Will the anchor hold? It was hard to concentrate on our books. The nights were worse – the noise, the worry, everything is just magnified in the dark - so we weren’t able to sleep through the nights. By the fourth edgy day locked into a 9-foot by 12-foot room together 24/7, we were getting frustrated, not with each other but with the concept of cruising. Whatever made us think we wanted to do this? We could DRIVE to Florida in two days, and rent an apartment; why were we taking almost two MONTHS to drag the boat down there? More to the point, why were we weathering a storm here, in the marshy middle of nowhere? At least if we were at a marina somewhere in some city, we could get off the boat and walk around and explore a town until the rough weather calmed down enough to travel. And finally, when was this darn wind going to let up?

Well, ultimately, the storm quieted as storms always do, and the sun came back out and our attitudes improved. We were back to loving life and travel on our boat, and seeing the beauty of nature and the different cities we could experience. We said goodbye to our little creek and got underway again. For a while. After just a few hours, the strong northerly winds started AGAIN. We sought shelter in another pretty creek with another line of trees on one side and marsh grass on the other. We had lots of time to make dinner … um, choosing from a wide array of canned and dried choices; we were out of fresh foods. The line of trees blocked the wind but we could see their tops tossing. How can we be sailors and not like wind? Grrr! There is such a thing as too much!

One more try. The forecast now called for two nice travel days, followed by YET ANOTHER big wind. That was it. We were headed to a marina to wait out the next blow somewhere with a few of the comforts of civilization -- i.e., the company of other people, pizza and a pint of ale! And, of course (or you wouldn’t be reading this), we did make it to that marina, and find that pizza and beer. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we were sitting at an outside table. The waitress, making conversation, said, “Oh, it’s so nice today – you should have been here last week, it was soooo windy all week.” You’re right. We should have.

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