Monday, September 9, 2013

Homeward bound

I signed up another crewman for the trip home: George, the son of an old friend of mine. George is a kind of honorary nephew, or maybe it would be more nearly correct to say that I'm an honorary uncle. Anyway, George is a great guy, very competent, and excellent company, and I felt strongly that I was lucky to have him along.

We had planned to leave Ithaca bright and early on Labor Day itself, the Monday. But that morning the weather was thoroughly dire: pelting rain, wind not quite howling but certainly making its views clearly known, thunder clapping and even lightning flashing -- in an oblique, reflected way. There were no actual bolts visibly streaking across the sky, or smiting a proud tower; more like a camera flash going off in the next room. Followed, five or six seconds later, by a sullen growl, as if God were abusing the manual transmission in His supernal car -- shifting without using the clutch.

George and I took a brief thoughtful look at the waters and the sky, and returned meekly to our Ithacan megaron. I don't know what George did, but I went back to sleep.

'Long about noon, things looked a lot better. The sky had cleared, the wind was from the northeast, birds were singing, raindrops were glistening on the grass in the weak, barely-recovered sun, etc etc -- all the usual pastoral cliches. Very nice, though.

So George and I decided to make a go of it. We got the boat off the mooring and down to the Port Of Ithaca dock, to fill up our water tank and load food and clothes and so on.

A gaggle of Ithacans gathered to see us off. One of them was Scott, an Ithacan who is also an airline pilot, and knows a lot about weather. He drew me aside and showed me a radar sequence on his Kibble, or iProd, or tofflet or whatever. 'A line is coming through,' he said. Loved that phrase, 'a line'. And it was a line, too, a vividly-colored row of little turbulent knots on the screen, plainly moving along the coast from Casco Bay in our direction.

They were a lot smaller than the vast tangled gnarly monster, a sort of octopus on methedrine, that had just passed through. But they were still rather scary-looking. 

I wanted to say 'forget it, we're not going,' and I believe that Scott, without directly saying so, felt that that might be the better part of valor. But I just couldn't do it, with all these people watching.

Compromise: reef the main. There's really nothing jiffy about jiffy reefing, so this took another ten minutes, which lent a flat air of anticlimax to the scene. But finally we got it done, and fired up the engine, and put-putted away from the dock. Waving and so on.

We got about three miles down the river and the heavens opened. Oh, it wasn't rough or anything; in fact, there was no wind at all. But it was a great deal like standing uder a cold shower. So we decided to bag it and dodged into the very pretty Harmon Harbor, shown above and below(*), and dropped the hook, and made a little dinner, and tried to dry our clothes -- the portlights leak, in a heavy rain -- and then went to sleep.
(*) Photos by George. 

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