Almost ready to quit
We’ve been anchored in the harbor near Clarence Town on the southeastern side of Bahama’s Long Island since Sunday afternoon. Coleen had three days left to finish school for the year and each day had exams. She really needed to stay in one place and focus her energy on finishing strong. Thankfully, although the anchorage is a little rocky, it’s not too bad, especially considering where we’ve been. So I suppose it was a good place to sit still for a few days. We’re planning to stay one more day so we can enjoy 4th of July at the beach rather than sailing.
Hmm, that seems a weird thing to say, since in years past I would so look forward to going to the lake to sail my boat on the 4th and enjoy the fireworks. Now I just want to stay put. I suppose it’s because the last few passages have not been that much fun. In fact on our way from Crooked Island to Clarence Town, a 10 hour sail, Coleen and I spent most of the time talking about selling the boat and living on land.
We raised the hook in our terrible rolling, almost sickening anchorage off of Landrail Point on Crooked Island, just after 7 a.m. Sunday morning. We were so glad to get going as the motion in the anchorage had been horrendous all night with a strong swell coming from the south, a direction to which we were exposed. The wind was fairly light, but we expected it to fill in by 9 a.m. We would be sailing a few miles downwind, and then on a broad reach the rest of the way. I had a terrible time trying to get the sails organized to sail downwind as the waves were very sloppy and from various directions. I moved the mainsail from one side to the other trying to find a motion that didn’t have the boat rolling all the way from one side and then all the way to the other side and back. I tried all sorts of combinations, head sail out, no head sail, main on the starboard, main on the port, pole, no pole. Nothing seemed to work well and I was getting tired. However, looking over at Perseverance I could see that DJ wasn’t faring much better.
Finally, we were able to turn and head on a broad reach with the wind on our quarter, but most of the waves were still on the stern and every few minutes we’d get a six footer which would really send us rolling. (OK, DJ says there were only occasional 6 footers). Still it was better than before and I got the sails set with a partially rolled up jib, the whisker pole, and a reef in the main. We had to keep our speed down as Perseverance had a blown out genoa and couldn’t make more than 3.5 to 4 knots with just a main and yankee. I finally had to put in a second reef so he could keep pace.
I had one small situation which gave me cause for pause and nearly sent me over the edge. I needed to jibe and went forward to move the preventer (the boom vang attached to a forward stanchion). There was so much pressure on it I couldn’t get it loose. So in my great wisdom I decided maybe I could use my foot to press down on the line and free it. Yep, my foot was firmly stuck I had to yell at Coleen to let out the main and turn the boat (which is what I should have done in the first place). There were a few tense minutes until she managed to disengage the autopilot and turn the boat. That was about the time I decided to move back to land!
Thankfully, the rest of the passage was uneventful and by early evening we made our way into the anchorage at Clarence Town. I was still quite discouraged, feeling once again that I am really not a very good sailor, which is probably an accurate assessment. I went to bed in a fairly bad mood, but resigned to getting rid of the boat.
Early next morning, while waiting for the weather report, I grabbed my copy of By the Grace of the Sea one of my favorite books, authored by Pat Henry, a woman who was about my age when she set off on a 10 year solo circumnavigation. I’ve read the book many times, but somehow seemed to have overlooked the parts, when she too was ready to quit, flung herself into the cabin with tears of frustration and anger, or did things that were stupid. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite so bad. Maybe in some crazy way this was normal. So I began to make a list of little improvements I could do to make the boat easier to sail and perhaps more stupid proof. After all, although we do have our share of bad days, the good days far out number the bad. So until that changes, I guess I’ll keep going.