Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fairfield to Stamford, CT

20.2 nm
Wind: calm to S 5 knots
Seas: building to one foot
Maximum speed: 5.3 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 3.1 knots
Average speed: 2.5 knots
Latitude: 41°01.59’N
Longitude: 073°32.19’W

I’m sitting in the dark boat. Karl’s gone to get water, and none of our interior light is really working. It’s okay—I have the light from the computer, the light of my headlamp, and I’m perfectly content. The computer is happily singing me Wilco songs. It’s astonishing to me how much enjoyment and civilization just music brings. I wish I could have put our entire CD collection onto my computer to randomize it all. Instead, I’m getting very familiar with the random selection of CDs that were loaded onto the computer. Every day I resolve to play an actual CD instead of my CD collection on random, but every day it seems like too much work and a waste of electricity.

Some huge powerboat ran aground right across the channel from us. As far as I know, he’s still there, waiting for the tide to come up. Yup, still there. I just peeked out of the companionway to check. I feel a little sorry for him, because I know how he feels. I hope he doesn’t think I’m mocking him, sitting over here with my light and my music. Not very much light, but light nonetheless. He called over another little fishing boat to come pull him off, but hasn’t seemed to want to ask for our help. We’ve been monitoring channel sixteen on the VHF since he ran aground, waiting for his call for help, but he hasn’t made one. Karl was going to row over and offer our assistance, but I’m not sure what we could do with a rowing dinghy.

We actually got to sail today. Very slowly, but sail nonetheless. Karl sailed us effortlessly out of the harbor at a rate of about one knot. When our speed dropped to about half a knot and the sea turned that glassy texture that indicates an absolute absence of wind, we decided to motor. We made a fair amount of progress before I made the casual observation that the wind appeared to have picked up. Then we were able to run with the wind (it was behind us) basically into Stamford harbor.

It was great to not to have to beat for once today. It was nice to be able to make a rather effortless three knots under sail. But both of us continue to be frustrated by our lack of ability to sail efficiently, and torn between the choice of sailing slowly and inefficiently and ending up stranded in winter gales or motoring our way out of danger. It’s a very tough choice. I lean towards sailing anyway, storms be damned, and Karl leans the other way. I just don’t want to begin a habit of reliance on the diesel. How then are we going to revise our sail plan? Where will be the motivation to work out our spinnaker arrangement, build a wind vane, get a larger genoa, all those things that need to be done? Even now, I feel our laziness when we’re both depending on the diesel to start soon. Why do we need to sail well in light wind when we can just fire up the engine?

Still, I feel backwards. Why not just use the engine if it will take us there faster? But then why don’t we have a blasted powerboat instead of this ridiculous sailboat? I know that sailing will be what helps us eventually, so it seems worth our while to learn to do it well now. But is this really the best time? I don’t know.

I had resolved that today was the day we got to go into town for some real food, ice, groceries, laundry, showers, and water, and I’m very dismayed that none of that happened. Neither of us quite know how to go about approaching a harbormaster or a marina. Do you just call them? Radio them? We don’t feel like real sailors yet—will they really believe we came from Massachusetts? And can we just dock and get these things without paying for a mooring? It’s all so bewildering. We’d rather just continue our habit of anchoring on the fringes of civilization. So Karl’s sneaking into a yacht club after hours to find an outdoor faucet. God forbid we actually try to talk to a living human being. Eventually we’ll have to figure all of it out. In the meantime, it seems amusing to continue our life of innocence, completely unconnected to the real world.

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