Slogging

Slogging

New Year’s Eve was exhausting. While most people were planning what to wear, we were slogging it out against a headwind in 2-4 foot seas.

But the adventure really began early that morning when Greg heard our anchor line rubbing up against the bow. I had just started to make coffee because we knew this would be a long day – our longest yet – with at least 40 miles to go to Key Biscayne. Greg looked out the porthole in the v-berth then suddenly jumped out of bed and started throwing on his clothes. I looked out and saw the stern of another boat about three feet away.

Greg ran up topside and began pulling on out anchor rode (aka. “line”) to try and pull us away from the other boat, but that backfired and instead drew us closer. A groggy man popped his head out of his hatch. Greg told him it was under control and he went back down below.

While a decent wind will keep anchored boats headed back over their anchors nicely in a similar fashion, it had been a windless night and was still dead calm, so the boats in the anchorage were roaming around listlessly over and around their anchors. We noticed the night before that our sailboat (an Endeavor 32) seemed to dance a little differently on her anchor, even in a stiff breeze. I googled this to see if I could find out why or if this was a standard problem, but to no avail. Needless to say, it has made us rather wary while on the hook surrounded by other boats.

Perhaps Greg was waiting for this to happen – I know I was, and I’d slept poorly the last two nights because of it.

Since we were planning on leaving anyway, Greg jumped back into the cockpit and turned on the engine. Still in my pjs, I knew what this meant. I started decanting coffee from the porcelain mugs into the thermoses and changed into my foul weather gear. It was around 55 degrees outside. I came out on deck and found Greg pulling up the last of the anchor chain and I steered us toward the channel. We had planned on getting an early start but now we were underway.

We passed under the bascule bridge again, this time without any traffic, though with a strong incoming tide, and I took this little time-lapse video.

We knew it would be a bit rougher out and I wish I’d had the Go-Pro on and filmed Greg as he hopped around the boat, reefing and then raising the main as four-foot waves slammed against our side. With the reef in, we were soon hitting speeds of up to 8 knots (that’s where we topped off anyway). This allowed us to make great time, but it was intense sailing. To maintain our course and stay as close to the wind as we could, we were constantly battling seas that were knocking us so hard on the port side that sea water was often coming up over the rails.

For Greg the day was stressful for additional reasons. Now that the boat was under a lot of stress, he could hear her making noises we hadn’t heard before. Why were the stays vibrating? Was it normal? What was that thumping sound? Was it something that could break or burst and explode? (It’s a good thing I have him around because, completely focused on how I would make lunch, these issues hardly phased me. In fact, I never made lunch because our alcohol stove was low on fuel and filling it would have required me filling a tiny cup from a former laundry soap container that Greg has now filled with alcohol, and then carefully dumping the alcohol into the stove. While we were heeled over and constantly being tossed by waves. There was just no way this was going to happen. So we snacked through the day instead, and ate our emergency “at sea breakfast” twice: graham crackers with peanut butter and jelly.

The boat was heeled over until we turned the corner at Cape Florida into the Biscayne Channel. Then the wind was at our backs and we rode in with the surf until we thought we were making the turn into the Cape Florida Channel – and, with kiteboarders sanding all around us waist-high in the water, we directly ran aground. With the sail up. Oops.

Greg sheeted the sail in amid-ships, and I put the boat in reverse and we backed out, sand a’swirling all around us. Having actually missed the Cape Florida Channel we had to go the long way around to our anchorage, through haunting Stiltsville, adding about three miles to our day.

Once we realized that the cruise through Stiltsville would lengthen our trip by almost an hour, I went below in the (finally) calm conditions and made us kimchi pancakes for dinner.

At 4:30 pm we arrived, finally, at our anchorage in No Name Harbor, and secured an awesome anchorage amidst the massive power boats that continue to pile up in here from Miami for the holiday weekend. And, despite being woken up briefly at midnight by revelers, we slept like the dead for ten hours.