Monday, December 25, 2006


Belhaven to River Forest Marina, NC
Wind: S 25-30 knots, gusting to 35 (knot-meter recorded 33 on dock)
Seas: one-foot, choppy

I didn’t mention it last night—too busy with the turkey—but Lise and Marcel are here with us too. When we pulled in last night we saw them at the marina, and Marcel motored over in his dinghy yesterday to where we were at the anchorage, and invited him to come stay at the dock, his treat, as a Christmas present. We thought it over, and decided to head over this morning, figuring it’d be good to celebrate with some friends as well as alone. Some local hunters had given Marcel a hank of venison for Christmas, seeing how far away he was from home.

So we ate a leisurely breakfast, not really paying much attention to the rocking of the boat. She lies so easy at anchor that it’s almost like being rocked in a cradle. I didn’t even realize that the wind had picked up until I listened to the weather report and then went outside in my raingear. We got docking lines and fenders ready, Karl pulled up his crap trap (baited with turkey neck) and anchor, and we set off for the marina. Both of the other boats in the anchorage peered out at us from under their spray dodgers, white-faced, as we motored blithely by, waving. It felt like the wind picked up the closer we got to the dock, the chop building, and as Secret slammed down into the waves and strained ever harder to power into the wind, we both began to rethink our lovely Christmas plan.

Keep in mind we’ve only docked a handful of times, maybe ten, and never in thirty knots, which is what it became clear to us it was blowing. Marcel and Lise stood on the dock, gamely waiting to hold our lines. Luckily they do a lot of docking, especially in bad weather, so Marcel knew just what to do, even when the boat was perpendicular to the dock with Lise holding a bowline and the anchor roller gouging out chunks of wood as I tried to keep the boat off. We came off relatively unscathed, but the fenders are screeching against the pilings and the motion of both boats is so uncomfortable that Lise is completely seasick. I’m not sure how much it is homesickness and how much it is seasickness, but whatever it is, she’s miserable, and Karl and I both wonder if maybe we should have stayed at anchor. At least we can try to comfort Lise and be good friends to the two of them, even if we are worried about the boat.

I’m more than ever convinced of Karl’s anchoring abilities. We’ve rode out a ton of storms at anchor, and Karl goes out and confidently manages how much chain and rope we have out, and prepares a second anchor that we’ve never had to use, and basically I don’t worry. Docking during storms is a whole new ballgame, and really seems a lot more frightening to me. Your boat has a whole ton of things to crash into at a dock, and with a fiberglass boat like ours, that means you lose your boat. If your anchor drags, you have at least a couple of minutes to try to get another one set.

So a cold and wet Christmas for us. We’ll go over to Marcel and Lise’s later and try to watch movies and eat venison and be somewhat festive. I’m just glad we had our warm and cozy family Christmas last night.

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