Many people assume that passages are ripe for cabin fever. They assume that at some point you just feel like you’re all alone sitting on a piece of cork, bobbing around without purpose or direction or anything to do. Admittedly, there are occasions during a passage when the swell is stacked, the wind is low, and my stomach is sending out smoke signals requesting help and/or solid ground. In those moments I would pay large sums of money and consider getting pregnant in order to give up my first born if I could just be on land. But (so far) more often than not, being at sea isn’t as boring or lonesome as you might think. That doesn’t mean we don’t get cabin fever though.
Yesterday morning, Craig and I had plans to start the day early, head ashore, get some groceries, and maybe accomplish some other chores. The weather had other plans for us. Instead of stretching our legs and getting fresh produce, we stayed on the boat to make sure the increasing winds would not be a problem.
What kind of problem you ask? Well, the kind where the wind builds, which builds the waves. And then in combination, the wind and waves thrash your boat so much that you pull on your anchor super hard and drag it through the sand. Sometimes you drag and the anchor resets and you’re fine. Other times, the wind and waves push you closer to the beach (or other boats, or rocks, or out to sea…) and you’re really not sure if the anchor will hold you in place. And if it doesn’t hold, then your boat ends up on the beach (or crashing into other boats, or rocks, or drifting out to sea…).
We were definitely getting pushed towards the beach in 15+kt winds and 3-4 ft waves. Suddenly instead of 50ft of water, we were in 13ft and we could see the bottom which had lots of big rocks, and the tide was on it’s way out. Also getting pushed towards the shore and the anchorage full of sailboats was a cruise ship. It was within about 20 meters of one boat who finally hailed the captain to make sure they knew they were about to take out several boats with his stern. It was time to reset our anchor. The options of protected locations are limited here for the south east winds we were seeing. By limited I mean totally non-existent and that Small World was totally exposed. Woof.
As we put the boat in reverse to dig in the anchor in the new spot, I looked behind us to make sure I wasn’t going to run over a jet ski buoy. It took a while for the anchor to set so we got close. I threw the engine into neutal and walked back to the stern to make sure we didn’t run it over. Then I noticed the rusty car on the seafloor, below the buoy and nearly below us. At that moment, the wind increased again to the point where we thought it would be best to stay put. Luckily the wind also shifted to push us away from that car so I didn’t have to worry about bottoming out on top of it.
Okay so, we reset the anchor, cleared the car, and the cruise ship moved far away from us all. Things were looking up. Then the wind increased again. Just to keep it interesting overnight, you know? With sustained winds of 20kts and gusts over 25kts, it was a long, rolly, noisy, bumpy night. It was so rolly that we had to sleep in the sea berths rather than the master cabin. It was so noisy that Craig was up from 2 ’til nearly 6 trying to quiet everything down and also checking to make sure we weren’t dragging anchor. It was so bumpy that in the dark before sunrise we hoisted the dinghy so it would stop beating on Small World every time it caught a wave. That sounds so simple doesn’t it? Just hoist the dinghy! That involves Craig scrambling into the dinghy, attaching the hoisting lines, and climbing up the back of Small World while both boats pitch and roll in 4ft waves so that at times he was staring me in the eyes and others he was staring at parts of the boat that are generally 4 ft under water. I’ll be honest. I was very nervous.
This morning, a boat in the fleet hailed the port captain. His anchor had been stuck in the rocks for the last ten days, unable to be freed even by a diver. Now, his bowsprit had ripped off and was dangling in the water, barely attached by his rigid bobstay. He is a solo sailor and needed some help and supplies. This is the the stuff of nightmares, people.
I’ve been close enough to shore that I could swim. I can see kids playing in the surf, hear the music at the bars, and follow the volleyballs back and forth across the nets at the tournament. But we’ve been trapped on the boat, and I’ve been forced to stay laying down for most of the day to avoid full blown seasickness. Listen. I ate lunch while laying down. I’m not having any fun.
But I just saw a whale breach a bunch of times and jumping manta rays… So… Worth it?