Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sakonnet to Point Judith, RI

18.8 nm
Wind: NW 10-20 knots
Seas: 2-3 feet
Maximum speed: 6.2 knots
Average speed: 4.2 knots
Latitude: 41°24.36’N
Longitude: 071°30.30’W

We woke up this morning at 6:30 AM, which, for anyone who hasn’t read my trail journals, is a feat of nearly superhuman effort. I, myself, am still reeling from the shock of it. We’re finally motivated, I guess, or growing up, or had a fire lit under our asses by watching Secret catch air in the gale on Saturday.

In any case, we realize that as long as the sun’s setting at four, we need to make tracks while the sun shines. So we rolled out of bed, made coffee, peeled off the sail cover, and turned on the VHF, only to watch the freezing rain sheet across the horizon. The winds were forecast at 15-20 knots, so we had nothing to worry about wind-wise, but it still didn’t seem to start out in 35-degree rain. We had a saying, hiking: “You can hike in the rain, but you don’t start hiking in the rain.” It continues to be true sailing.

It’s unfortunate, because we had vast plans to break our thirty-mile barrier. Our longest day, still, was the day we sailed to Cutty Hunk and tacked across Buzzard’s Bay about eight times. We’ve been sailing in direct lines lately but still have been unable to cross that threshold.

When we finally set out at almost one the rain had cleared, but sailing still seemed ambitious. The sky was grey, it was still icy out, and we had our full West Marine raingear on—waders, rain jackets, and boots. We looked like a yellow West Marine convention. Rob, our friendly West Marin salesperson, would be so proud.

I must admit, though, the investment in raingear may have been the wisest we’ve ever made. It keeps us warm, dry, and happy as we sail in these conditions. I’m definitely glad we decided to take the plunge instead of using the bargain basement stuff we had intended to.

Because the wind was only forecast to go up to twenty knots we decided to leave the full main up. We’ve allegedly figured out how to reef, but it still seemed like a lot of work, and more trouble than it was worth. So when a huge sailboat, heeled over like crazy, passed u s reefed on the way into Newport, we felt hardcore or crazy with our full main extended. I continue to be thrilled with how our stiffened-up rigging is controlling our heeling. We only had a piece of the jib out for stability, but we were still sailing at about five knots, and barely heeling at all. I can always tell because everything stays where it’s supposed to stay. Anyway, the sailboat waved at us—their raingear as fluorescent as ours—and we waved back. It may have been the first time I’ve been acknowledged by another sailboat where I didn’t feel like I was doing something completely wrong. The wind was strong, but not out of control, and Secret was never unhappy or out of hand. It was a gorgeous sail.

The best part of the day was towards sunset, when we headed in to Point Judith, our eventual anchorage. The clouds cleared, the sun came out, and the wind calmed. We let out the whole jib and kept about a four-knot pace but in much more relaxed seas. It was always that way hiking too—it’s so rewarding to head out in awful weather, only to have the sky clear and the day show its beauty to you in a way that those who don’t brave the bad weather never experience. It just feels amazing to be outside again, every day, experiencing what the world is, rather than the controlled interior environments most of us live in everyday.

Even now, I can see my breath inside of the cabin, and the universe is letting me know that it’s cold outside. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can get under my covers, get warm and cozy, and wake up tomorrow morning and see what the world has to say. A full moon’s coming up soon. I can’t wait. In the meantime, we’re tucked in between two uninhabited islands in an anchorage that’s allegedly packed in the summer. Tonight, the water is as flat as a plate, and we have the anchorage all to ourselves. Life couldn’t be better.

1 comment:

Ellen, John & Sophia said...

Sounds like an amazing day- I love Pt. Judith. And you made a wise decision, good raingear can pay for itself with happy sailors.