Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 2, continued: A wild night

Wind came back into the west in the late afternoon, so I pulled up the anchor and headed out.

The weather radio said short thunderstorms were "possible", and about an hour later it turned out this was understated. A black blinding squall, with rain falling in streams rather than drops, came roaring across the water like an express train and hit me a lot quicker and harder than I expected.

I was able to heave-to and reef the mainsail and partway furl the jib (thanks to the handy roller furler) and by the time I got that done the storm was over, the sky was clear, the wet decks were gleaming-clean and the little droplets of water hanging here and there sparkling like sequins in the horizontal light of the setting sun. Oh and the wind was a nice steady ten knots, a little north of west, and the seas were maybe two feet and leisurely.

This halcyon state of wind and sea persisted until nearly midnight. Then the wind got stronger and the water very choppy, hitting me pretty hard on the port bow and making it hard to keep my course. And I was tired: had gotten up in New Rochelle quite early -- for me -- and had been either sailing or hull-diving all day. I just don't have the dura-ilia for these 24-hour forced marches any more.

So I hove-to on the starboard tack about four or five miles from the Long Island shore. Went below and pottered a bit, trying to warm up. Then noticed that the GPS was telling me I was actually traveling a knot or so in the diametrical wrong direction: west, that is, back toward New York. My fuddled brain gnawed on this bit of data for a lot longer than it should have had to and then the penny dropped: if I heave to on the port tack instead I'll reverse my direction of travel by 180° and be making progress without having to do any work!

The half-tack required to get me there was a bit white-knuckle since the sea had come up a good deal and the wind was, shall we say, brisk. As I gathered way for the tack the swells were coming across my starboard quarter. The Scapegrace gets very skittish and playful under those conditions and I was slow and groggy. It took several tries: coming up into the wind almost almost almost getting the jib back-winded and then, bang, a wave knocks the bow back and it's all to do over again: fall off, gather way, put the helm down, mutter come on, come on... and then another damn wave. But finally I caught a break or the wave gods tired of toying with me and the bow came round as sweet as you please and I lashed the tiller and went below and fell sound asleep in the middle of Long Island Sound.

Well, not quite the middle, of course. I was pretty much on a line between Eatons Neck and Port Jefferson, on the threshold of the bight between them. If I can get the Google Maps api to play nice with Google Blogger -- which is not so easy as it ought to be -- a map will appear below:

So I was out of the shipping lanes. But still I suppose there's stuff to bump into, or be bumped by. As it happened no such disaster befell and I slept the sleep of the bone-tired until dawn -- which brings us to Day Three.

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