Saturday was a busy day filled with boat chores and sorting out the cockpit lockers. I managed to fix the issue in the aft lazerrette – where the steering quadrant was exposed, and fitted a nice cover over it. Now I can actually use the locker without worry of losing steerage J I’ve deemed the aft locker the “fun locker”, because it’s where I stow the snorkeling, beach and fishing gear, roller skates, cooler, and all those other items we need for fun activities when we go ashore. It’s handy too, since it’s right next to where we hang the dinghy on the davits. We can just pop it open and load the dinghy.
The other cockpit locker is the “not so fun” locker as it holds tools, spare parts and all those things you need while fixing something or doing maintenance. Now I’ll let you guess which locker will have the most use J
Coleen had a friend over to spend the day, and was she ever happy about that! They played quietly for hours – only popping out once in a while to ask for more lemonade.
We had some new friends over for a little dinner party that evening – with grilled hamburgers, etc. They’ve been cruising now for several years, spending most of it in the Caribbean and East Coast of South and Central America. As with most cruisers, they had a wealth of stories and tips.
Sunday I slept late and then lounged around in bed reading a book about the Virgin Islands. I think I was procrastinating because I knew I had to work on a window and was not really looking forward to it. Did that ever turn out to be a nightmare! I managed to get the window out only to find that the whole area was soaked – tons of rotten wood. Well, maybe not tons, but enough to bring me to tears. I was certain my voyage was over before it began. Soon enough DJ came over to see what all the wailing and moaning was about. He reassured me that it was a common issue, easily fixed, and then provided me with tools and instructions…. I removed all the spongy wet stuff and then left it covered with mosquito netting to dry out for a couple of days. Of course now I’m thinking I might need to take out all the windows because who knows what is lurking under there, and then maybe while I’m at it replace them with bronze ports. A quick price check on the internet shows that to be $3000 project since I have 11 ports! I decided to chew on that idea for a while.
After putting all the tools away in the “not so fun” locker, I decided I needed to clear my head with a sail to the beach in our little 8 ft dinghy. Coleen and I packed up our gear and after a few tense moments remembering how to rig it up we were off. Now it’s only about ¾ mile to the beach, but it’s down a 100 ft wide creek full of twists and turns, so that meant we had to tack about 300 times (I may be exaggerating a little). Most of the time we did well, but a few times I waited a bit too long to tack and the very strong tidal current pushed us into the mangroves. Just about the time we’d get moving along well, the creek would turn and we’d lose our wind and we would be one with the current. I finally learned what they mean by “throwing the tiller over hard” and got in some good tacks. After we fought our way out of Whiskey Creek and into the much wider Sisters Creek -- life was good!
Coleen was nestled down in the tiny little bow reading a book this whole time. She had on a little pink hat and I’m sure it looked quite odd from a distance. A couple of times a passing kayaker would ask if she was asleep :-)
All told it took us about an hour to sail to the beach, but we never gave up. I’m not going to go into detail about our actual landing on the beach – let’s just say it needs some work to get the kinks out.
The beach was crowded with Spring Breakers, but we found a nice place in the shade and relaxed for a while. I started a great new book I found in the cruisers lounge “My Old Man and the Sea”. We stayed at the beach a bit longer than planned as we were waiting, waiting, waiting for the ice cream truck. To our dismay it was a no-show. So finally around 5 p.m. we re-packed our gear and began our journey home.
Now if landing on the beach was a challenge, disembarking from the beach was a total disaster! It was very, very low tide due to a full moon. We were in a bit of a mud flat, squishy, yucky sand with odd creatures sprinkled about here and there. It was a challenge to just walk to the dinghy without slipping in the muck. We finally managed to drag her into a few inches of water. My plan was to use the oars to paddle into deeper water and the put in the centerboard, attach the boom, raise the sail, etc. In reality I rowed us out a bit, and started fiddling with everything and before I finished we had floated to the other side of the entrance and were hard aground (in a dinghy no less). Of course the fishing dock across the way at the beach was full of onlookers, but I tried not to notice. A fishing boat heading through the entrance offered us a tow, but I declined as I still needed to get the rigging together. I finally rigged it all up except the center board and used an oar to push us out into deeper water. I would get us pushed out and headed the right way, but before I could put the oars away and push the centerboard down, the current would have us aground again. It was truly a comedy show. Finally, I was able to do it fast enough and we took off --- only to get pushed hard into some mangrove trees which captured the boom and rigging in a twist of branches. At least we weren’t aground :-)
A lot of pushing and sculling later, we finally got out of that mess and sailed home! When we were almost back to our boat, Coleen (who turned 9 on January 11th) looked up from her book and said, “Am I ten yet?” Guess she thought it was a long journey :-)