it took me an hour to drag my ass out of bed this morning. i laid there, saying it’s time to get up, time to get up, and i just couldn’t move. i feel that awful ambivalence of being flogged to an inch of my life by a very beautiful woman.
i’ve been up for a couple of hours and had my coffee and i still feel like my central nervous system is totally shot. the boat is a shambles although externally she is nicely put to order, no mean feat after the events of yesterday.
it started innocuously enough – we pulled out of campbell river without paying the moorage; i’ll be damned if i’m going to pay for moorage like that. christ, if someone had been on deck they could have been killed between the boats; i have no idea what the hell that wharfinger was thinking getting us to raft up in such a dangerous spot. if he had come buy asking for payment i would have suggested a place where he could shove my boathook -in fact i would volunteer sending it home.
so we bumbled our way south, having no idea where we were going. from the previous post i expect my ambivalence and confusion is clear. so we just let the current and iron genny send us south while we talked about everything that’s happened and what it all meant. at least we hit a good tide; i hadn’t checked but we were on a nice ebb and we hit 9.5 knots in discovery channel, the morning utterly windless.
we were about an hour south of cape mudge when a few zephyrs started blowing. we pulled out the sails and started a slow upwind drift. the wind started doing this strange backing and we kept tacking trying to follow it. I expected something to happen soon but wasn’t sure what; there was a forecast of winds to 30 knots but environment canada calls wolf so often and is wrong more often than probability would expect (they would have a better average by flipping a quarter) i’ve almost come to ignore them and just keep my eyes out.
this time the were right. one moment we were ghosting along, and the next we were hard over. within a few minutes we partially furled the jib. soon i had to put a double reef in the main. the seas started climbing. within 1/2 an hour we were in the ugliest seas i’ve ever been in, even worst than johnstone strait of a few days ago. of course it’s much worse pounding into it rather than running downwind. water was regularly running over the decks as she buried her bow into the waves. we regularly had the rail in the water, heeled at almost 40 degrees.
we were going like a bat out of hell but the tide and especially the seas prevented us making any way to windward. although i was pointing as high as possible, when watching our progress on the chartplotter, we were simply going back and forth on the tack (we had decided to make a run for comox and the wind was right on the nose). the seas crashing on the bow just would not allow us any southing.
so ignominously we decided to fire up the engine and make a bee line for harbour, straight into the surf.
it was hell. if i had been thinking clearer i would have turned around and run back, or at least did a nice beam reach and headed for lasquiti. the water kept washing over the deck, spray coming into the cockpit. I had to go on deck (tethered) to adjust a reef in the mainsail and got caught in a wave that drenched me, and after that both of us had to take turns to go below and put on our wet weather gear.
our southing was terrible. even with the main up and the engine opened up, and there were times that we would almost completely stall after a really big wave. at best we were making a couple of knots velocity made good. we were only something like 13 miles from comox and yet it took us until almost 7 PM to make it into harbour, beaten to crap, the genny with two big tears in it, and the salon looking like a bomb had gone off. I had forgotten to close a locker in a galley and at one point a whole whack of plates and bowls went flying. we had done what sailing we could but that meant putting reefs in and out, pulling in the jib, putting it , pulling it in again. it was hard, hard work.
we were utterly exhausted and debated whether we would tie up at the dock or anchor, another mistake on my part. past experienced showed me that trying to dock – especially at a strange dock – is a bad idea when i’m very tired. my boat has fairly poor handling, especially when compared to a more modern boat and she doesn’t turn on a dime at all. we pulled up to the dock and although i was in a very good position to land her, we were slow and didn’t have our lines or fenders ready. i tried to stand off while we got the gear set, but there was still a strong breeze and she kept drifting to leeward. eventually i knew i would have to start all over again and tried to turn around and redo my approach.
unfortunately, i had run out of room. there is a very narrow channel dredged out for the dock and it shoals quickly. at first we didn’t realise that we had been “blown ashore”, it was so soft and gradual. but revving the engine produced nothing.
oh, bloody hell again. i couldn’t believe it. not only had i run her aground but i ahd done so almost at the top of high tide and it was fast falling. it was also now dark. i knew we had to get a kedge out and try to haul her off the mud before we lost too much water under her keel. we had to get the motor on the dinghy. unfortunately i hadn’t yet bothered to fix the harness that we use to hoist the outboard motor off the rail. so sheldon and i first had to take it off and untangle it, and reinstall it before i could drop the motor on the dinghy (of course half-filled with seawater).
at that point someone hollered at me from the dock that he had a 400 foot line that we could fix to our halliard and lean her over. the idea is that as you grind in the halliard, the other end of the rope is tied to the dopck and the boat then heels over, which lowers her draught and lifts her keel from the mud.
after a lot of buggering around we got it all set up and we pulled her over as far as we could from the dock with three of us pulling, and tied off the line. then sheldon started cranking on the winch. over and over she heeled and she actually shifted a bit, but by that time she had lost a lot of water under her and she still wouldn’t budge. it looked pretty hopeless. i hadn’t all that much faith in the tilting thing anyway and thought we should have just dropped a kedge and winched her off, but what did i know? i’ve never run aground before and was learning as i was going.
i went back to the boat and grabbed the anchor. sheldon let go the winch and i peeled out the anchor chain. of course the stuff weighs several hundered pounds and the dinghy had a hell of a time actually making way, i spun around in circles going here and there, trying to get that goddamned chain pulled out. after an absurd amount of spinning around i eventually got that anchor dropped onto the dock.
i pelted back to the boat, gave sheldon the helm and went across her deeply sloped deck to the winch.
she groaned, oh, she groaned. the 150′ of chain actually lifted out of the water. it was probably foolish as the cost of a new winch was a lot more than a tow, but by christ i wasn’t going to leave her on the mud; i got her there and i was going to get her off. i stopped for a minute to let the winch cool and gave ‘er again. sheldon gunned the motor and at last, the sweetest, sweetest feeling as she slid off her mud bed.
we thanked everyone for their help although i think we should have charged admission. the couple that had first showed up with their stern line, marge and john from washington state, could tell we were the walking dead and invited us to their boat for some hot soup for dinner. that was the most wonderful thing i had heard in a long time and i bless them for their kindness and generosity.
after the soup and a nice visit, we stumbled back to the boat. i have no idea where he found the energy but sheldon went looking for beer and soon came bac
k with a case which we demolished in short order. i was so tired, so exhausted i couldn’t sleep and i stayed up half the night reading newspapers on the internet, until sleeping the sleep of the undead.
slowly, oh so slowly life is coming back. i dread walking back to the boat and the disaster that she is below decks. but there are clothes to wash and i badly need a shower. when i get the energy i’ll post some cool videos and pics. too bad nobody was around to video the rescue of fainleog.