Sunday, December 10, 2006

Knapp Narrows to St Jerome Creek, MD

39.6 nm
Wind: calm to SSW 5 knots
Maximum speed: 5.8 knots
Average speed: 4.7 knots
Latitude: 38°07.52’N
Longitude: 076°19.62’W

We’re finally getting somewhere. That’s what that little 39.6 nautical miles means. And we’re finally listening to the critics who have been telling us: don’t sail, motor! They’ve been telling us that for the last month and a half, and after the debacle of yesterday, and with the impending realization that we might not even reach Norfolk by Christmas, we decided to listen to them.

So the sail covers didn’t even come off today. The wind was right in our faces, and we didn’t even bother to tack. The Master steered every last minute of the day. I thought to myself: hmm, this is what it must be like for all those people who don’t agonize and search their souls every time they flip the key for their diesel.

I think the hard part is the decision. If you’re resigned to having an inefficient powerboat, as Lise and Marcel seem to be, or if you’re like the Pardeys and don’t even have an engine, then you don’t have the choice to make. But with us, we look back and forth at each other longingly in the morning. Who’s going to take off the sail cover? Who’s going to pull out the winch handles? Or, when there’s no wind at all: who’s going to have the cojones to pull out the key?

We knew the wind was against us. We know the wind is going to be against us tomorrow. So instead of agonizing, or beating ourselves up (although I’ll do both of those things in even the best conditions), we just motored. I was able to do the dishes, clean the whole boat, bleach the mildew off the hull, bleach the contaminated cutting boards, and all before breakfast. Well, not exactly. All before lunch.

Which is when—wait for it—the motor started acting up. Big surprise there, huh? As soon as we start relying on it, it turns for the worse. It’s doing this crazy thing where for no reason at all it loses RPMs and then gains them again. We even had to shut it down for a couple of minutes, with no sail out, lie ahull, and pour oil into it. Which didn’t fix it.

Poseidon must be taking his fierce revenge. Or something. So while we had thought about letting the Master steer us all night, right into Norfolk, instead we pulled into an extremely rolly anchorage right at dark, and Karl’s pulled the whole diesel apart. So now I’m agonizing and soul-searching again. That’s what we get for relying on our engine. We’ll probably have to tack against the wind tomorrow, if we move at all, at a grand average speed of 1.2 knots in the five-knot breeze. It will only be what we deserve.

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