Saturday, November 18, 2006

En route from Sandy Hook to Cape May, NJ

Wind: Calm, building to up to NW 15 knots
Seas: 3-6 feet with swell

It’s midnight, and I’m getting ready to start my shift at the tiller, from twelve to three, so I can’t write for very long. The boat’s dark, Karl’s outside sailing on a beam reach. A beam reach to paradise, or so they say. I’ve just gotten about a half-hour of sleep out of my three hours of alleged sleep. Sleeping is difficult when you have water rushing past your ears at about 50 decibels, as well as all the miscellaneous creaks and groans a fiberglass boat makes under sail. Karl says it’s the hull flexing, but it freaks me out. Every time it happened I could swear something hit the hull.

I had the craziest dreams, too—that Karl was walking around the cockpit, not at the tiller, that we had stopped in someplace named Fargut, and docked with a nice young couple, that I had slept through my alarm and Karl had had to hold the tiller until five in the morning… The mind does crazy things at night on a sailboat under sail.

It’s our first time. It’s very exciting. I wasn’t very enthused about the idea. In fact, I had thought that we could go into Manasquan Inlet to anchor tonight, especially after we had to motor almost all day today. There was no way I was motoring all night, in the frigid cold. We pulled into Manasquan, after the wind picked up and we were able to sail for about an hour. It was freezing cold all day, and the prospect of sailing all night made me chilled. But for some reason our GPS doesn’t have detail for the inlets, and dark had fallen while we had messed around dropping the main, and all we had was a seven-year-old chartlet from Reed’s Nautical Almanac for navigation. There were no buoys in the channel at all, and the rumor that we had heard, that Manasquan was awful for anchoring, was rapidly proved true.

Karl said, “Screw this, we’re heading back out to the open water.” And we did. With a two-hour detour. Now we’re heading straight for Cape May, if the weather holds.

The best story of the day is that we almost caught a gargantuan fish, almost being the operative word. We have three fishing poles on the boat, as well as two boxes of fishing tackle, two crab pots, and a nine-foot casting net, but we have yet to fish from the boat. Yesterday, after watching all of the charter fishing boats leave Cape May on their twice daily excursions, Karl dug out our trolling rod and a tuna lure, costing $4.95, that I insisted we buy.

So he set it up this morning when there was no wind and we were motoring, right as we were approaching the charter fishing boat hangout. Now, our trolling pole is a sad affair, ancient, with a broken eye on the end. Karl attached it to its rod holder with a piece of twine, and was just sitting back as I steered, thinking that if a fish bit big enough to pull the rod out of the rod holder, the twine would never hold it. But it did. A huge fish of some variety yanked that rod so hard that it cracked the wooden rod holder in two. The rod went flying off the back of the boat, and the only thing I saw was Karl, almost jumping off the boat, as he tried to catch the end of the broken pole. He did, and fought with the fish for a couple of moments before it snapped the brass leader right off the line, along with my fancy lure. We’re going to have to buy some more of those, that’s for sure. I want some tuna. Still, it was exciting, and it’s nice to have a big bite on our very first day fishing. We’ll have to be more ambitious in the future. We’re not fishing right now because if we caught one, one of us alone couldn’t handle the tiller and the fish.

I must go. Three hours of finger-numbing servitude to the tiller await.

No comments: