01 March 2017 | Exumas
EVS: Wonderful (followed by WINDY)
All sailors, and most people for that matter, look forward to glory days – when the conditions are “just right”. For sailors, that means sufficient winds in the right direction for heady sailing, calm sea state, blue skies, and favorable companions. (In our boat yard, there is a boat named Glory Days and her former owners proudly sailed her all over the Bahamas and beyond, relishing in their time together. After she was sold a few years ago to a new owner, he started to update and rejuvenate the vessel. Unfortunately, like so many dreams, he found the reality far different from his imaginings. A fuel tank had ruptured, electric wiring and components needed to be replaced, the rigging was rotten, etc. He placed a new home port beneath her name so that her transom now reads “Glory Days My Ass”.)
Off times, when we and others are out and trying to get from point A to point B, the winds are too light, too strong, or in the wrong direction. As a result, sailboats often are found to be motoring (or motor sailing) simply to get where the crews intend. This has sparked all kinds of joking comments – what are those sticks in the air [masts] for anyway? (One friend recently discovered a good use for them – she hauled her cell phone up to the top to catch a distant cell signal and create a hot spot on her boat.) Or, “hey, what are those white things [sails] you have up in the air?”
Of course, there are the occasions when the conditions are just right and we have had a number of wonderful sailing days when we have made good time and enjoyed the absence of engine noise and the chance to listen to the surge of waves and hull through the sea. On our return from the Jumentos Cays, we had strong winds that enabled two days of broad and then close reaching with exceptional and consistent speed. The first day, we averaged about 7.5 knots, with some exceedances. (See photo). The second day became more stressful as the wind shifted closer to our bows, increased in velocity to over 20 knots, and varied considerably (from 14-21 knots) over the course of 30-60 seconds – and every 30-60 seconds it seemed. Finally, tiring of the “hunting” that Gratitude (and her auto pilot) were doing [i.e. rounding up in a gust and falling off in a lull], we put a reef in the main and partially furled the genoa. That reduced our speed somewhat but made for a much more comfortable and controlled ride.
So, we have had several glorious days of sailing, plain and simple and we have relished each one. Now, we are starting the trek north and, as always, have to temper our desire to stay put and explore with the need to keep moving to cover some ground. From the Exumas, where we are now, we will head to Spanish Wells, a favorite settlement at the north end of Eleuthera, and thence to the Abacos, where we last ventured in 2010. There, we hope to reunite with sailing friends from our earliest days aboard Gratitude. We are sure there will be glory days along the way.