Sunday, January 14, 2007

En route from South Edisto River, SC

Wind: SE 5-10 knots
Seas: Three feet

It’s one o’clock in the morning, Monday morning, actually, and I’m on watch at the helm with the Master steering. We’re offshore of Savannah, heading to St. Simons Sound. It was almost an impulse decision to go outside, but the weather held, and we realized we had a window, so after all day motoring on the ICW we came out of Port Royal Sound at dusk, and here we are, with 46 miles to go.

I’ve already seen falling stars and heard the chirping of a dolphin. The only thing marring the pleasantness of the passage is the dull throb of the diesel. This is our third offshore passage and my first watch where we haven’t actually been sailing, and that was the whole point of going offshore.

I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I’ve been reading this guidebook called The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South, a guidebook to passages in the Caribbean, and he keeps talking about when you need to use your auxiliary (engine, that is), how you need to time your passages to sail them, how motorsailing is often the best option.

Motorsailing is bogus. It’s motoring with a little piece of cloth up, not sailing at all. It’s what we’re doing right now. It’s just something to make sailors feel better about not buying a powerboat.

If we don’t sail, how are we ever going to learn to sail? The only reason we know anything about sailing is that we spnet all summer refusing to use our engine except to get in and out of harbors. I see little sailboats messing around harbors on the weekend, as we go chugging by, and I’m extremely jealous. At least they get to sail.

It’s as if someone gave me a little motorscooter when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail and I could just hop on it when things got tough. As if someone told me, “You can’t just walk. It’s not safe!” We have all sorts of excuses for motoring--our lack of a windvane, blah blah, but no good reason. We were going six knots under genoa and main, and now we’re going four, “motorsailing.” It’s just easier to pop on the auxiliary, is what it boils down to. It’s easier, and we’re lazy. But if we wanted it to be easy, then why didn’t we buy a powerboat? Why not an RV? Hell, why not just stay at home?

I want to sail. I really, really do. But I can’t do it alone, now, at one o’clock in the morning while Karl’s sleeping, and the wind’s just a little bit too strong. I’m not ready to do it by myself precisely because I haven’t been doing it. Our boat’s not prepared, we’re not prepared. There’s crap all over the boat that’ll fall all over the place when we heel. But if not now, when?

We’ll work it out, I know. This is just another one of the snakes in the garden. In the meantime, I’ll sit out and feel the wind, watch the stars, and try to ignore the noise.

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