Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lessons Learned

Wednesday began windy and wild, which did not coincide with our plans. In fact, we couldn't have chosen a nastier time to try to bring Equinox home. Nevertheless, despite the forecast, we ended up going offshore...Ron headed out the inlet, saying it was just to "take a peek" at the conditions. He was hoping that if we ran just a couple miles offshore, it wouldn't be too bad. I was not a happy camper - or cruiser- and voiced my concerns, but Ron was focused on the schedule. As we exited the jetty, Kerry came up, looking sleepy and disheveled, and when he looked out, he said with some disbelief, "So.....we're running offshore?" We looked at each other, both skeptical about this decision, but Ron just said "You bet!" While our Kadey-Krogen can handle rough seas, being stoutly built, we both thought, "why be miserable when you don't have to be?"

Right out of the gate we were in 5-7' seas, and soon they were nearing 10'. This all within a couple miles from shore! I admit to being rather worried, but I'm good at that. Still, I imagined a 10,001 things going wrong, and listened intently to all sounds from the engine room, not wanting to lose an engine to bad fuel, stirred up from the violent seas, and checked again that everything was battened down, strapped down or pinned shut. We were as secure as we could be, and the engines were humming along beautifully. Gratitude was aplenty!

I then started using my phone to text my sister, Jennifer and daughter, Ally, for two reasons: to let them know the new float plan of going offshore, and (more importantly) to distract and calm myself somewhat in the increasingly rough seas. It did help...but then, I noticed that Kerry went dashing down below, and when he didn't return after a few minutes, I went up to the pilothouse. When I found Ron looking more than a bit green, I then realized what was going on...that everyone was seasick, but me!! (I hadn't seen Karen yet this morning, either, despite two attempts on her part to make it to the piltohouse.) Think there may have been a bit too much Tommy Bahama rum the night before....not a wise choice before heading out to sea the next morning!!

Thus, my saga started. I took over the helm station, and stayed there for the next 6 hours, as everyone else was out of commission. We bounced, slammed and slid our way along to Port Canaveral, that being my executive decision to bring us back inside....I had had enough of this! The autopilot fought and wrestled with the seas while I clung to the helm, watching as the waves seemed even larger...pushing high above the bow, looming ever taller, with the boat rising, rising, rising and then momentarily going weightless a moment or two, before slamming down as we crested the wave. Sometimes violently, sometimes careening off balance down the front of the next wave, sometimes just gliding forward to find the next big wave. By now the seas were definitely 14-18', with the occasional 20-footer....yep, pretty much what was forecast. Winds were gale force, about 30 knots, and stayed there most of the day. It seemed like every sixth or seventh wave was a slammer, and none were polite about shoving Equinox around!

When Ron managed to be functional about 3:30 or so, and pried my hands off the newly worn grooves in the wheel, he took the helm to finish the approach into Port Canaveral. I was toast, and hit the saloon couch to crash for a bit. (Ron had said he didn't sleep much in our forward cabin, what with the waves literally tossing him up in the air and his having to listen to the anchor chain bang about the chain locker.) I can't say I had much sympathy at that moment.

By 5:00 we were in the Port Canaveral inlet, and moored up in the marina, with the guys wobbling around and trying to wash, scrub and/or chisel the salt off Equinox.
Dinner was a sandwich or two for those who could stomach them, before a very early bedtime. Bliss!!

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