01/19/2012, Crew-Texas Why Knot-Wilmington NC
January 17, 2012
Most folks think a vessels' home port is that port painted on the transom. Technically, that is not necessarily correct. The one painted on the transom is the port of registry and it may or not be the home port and it may or may not even be near the water. The port where based, is the home port. For a cruising boat, where there is no base of operations, the home port coincides with the port of registration thus, in our case, Port Aransas, otherwise known as Port A. Since it has been several months since the crew of Why Knot has been in salt air, we looked forward to our trip this last weekend to visit our home port and our friends there. Port A is vastly different than any other port we have visited thus far and even without the spectacular scenery of the Keys, the Islands of the Atlantic Coast; we know it will always be Home Port to Why Knot. Whether or not she ever clears the jetties again, that will be the case at least under our ownership.
The thing about Port A is that many of our friends who also call it their home port are underway elsewhere on the planet, some in the Gulf, some in the Atlantic, some in the Keys and some even well into the Caribbean Sea. We were fortunate this weekend to run across a few of the cruising crews actually in Port A. That is the ultimate reward of cruising. It is always a treat and one of the reasons cruising is a unique experience.
The other reward on the visit was to simply stand on the beach and face windward into the Gulf. The imagination runs free to think about some things such as the time when, before we left our home port, we would gaze seaward and imagine what's out there. We often sailed out the jetties into the Gulf for the day only to turn around and head back to port. Even with a perfect day of sailing offshore, it was always a bit of a disappointment to come about and head back in. Having now been out there some, and knowing Why Knot is still out there adds a unique perspective to the visions that onshore sea breeze provided this weekend. The weather was nice and cooperative in recharging the cruising batteries of the soul. It did not take long to visit a few of our favorite Port A places and rekindle the dreams of those days. Our "old slip" is occupied and most of those we knew a couple of years ago have gone but it is as though we never left. But we did. We left and our log books describe those adventures we only dreamed of just two years ago. There is a vast difference between most of those ports and our Home Port yet we will always judge all of them by Port A and the dreams it fostered. We once looked out the jetties and dreamed of other ports. We now know the rewards of taking her to sea is unmatched by almost anything else.
Bear is recovering and we have now started the go box. We have been in contact with other crews we've met along the way and most of them are heading South along the AICW. It is the migration which can make the AICW busy at times. We remember how strange it was on a few occasions when we passed a bridge and the tender would say something like "see you next year. " I am sure they recognize those boats that make the trek every year. We have passed certain parts of the AICW three times now and perhaps some of those bridge tenders remember us.
December 29, 2011
2011 was a butt kicker for the crew of Why Knot. No other way to look at it. Just six days into the start of the year we lost a young friend/ business associate to an aviation accident. Certainly, he will be in our thoughts for the rest of our lives. His early departure from this life reinforced our resolve to live to the fullest and be thankful for each day.
We did enjoy our visit to the Abacos and the other boat crews and locals we met are now treasured memories. We are reading of their plans this new year and wish them well. Certainly, we look forward to visiting the islands to further explore those crystal seas and the history that makes them so rich. We did fail to develop a taste for conch in any form which means that we were a rarity among the cruisers. For some reason, we could not get into that delicacy. Anything that looks so ugly and has to be beaten to molecule thickness is not our idea of food. So, friends and fellow scurvs, you can have our life's allotment. That said, there were no other negative surprises there. Great locals, great history and wonderful seas.
Back into the States, we headed north only to be sidetracked by a fender bender that drove Bear's pain meter into the red zone. Since then, we have been dealing with that issue so 2012 promises to be a much better year- - that is if the Mayans were off a bit in their prediction of world's end in 2012. That wouldn't bode well for the cruise.
This year is ending with several upticks. Bear is on the mend and we have a window for returning to Why Knot. Our new prop has only a forty yard history from the yard to the slip. I don't even know if I have it set right but we are looking forward to testing it. The addition of Scurv, ABSD (Able Bodied Sea Dawg) to the crew as First Mate will add a dimension to our anticipated cruise to the Chesapeake. I said dimension meaning challenge since we were not in favor of cruising with a pet. Wait! He is not a pet in his mind. As a puppy, he has already lost his thumbs which mean that he won't be able to fetch some stuff. I am wondering if the right mouthpiece will allow him to act as a sort of robot gripper to hold the wrench? He has his life vest, some turtle neck sweaters and a specialized Astro Turf looking gizmo the help with his chores. So far, he has used everything in the house but that gizmo. I think he is trying to eat it. Anyway, he is chipped and tagged and ready for sea--- or not.
The picture is a sunset on Mississippi Sound taken in 2010
Happy New Year from Why Knot.
NEVER, ALWAYS, YES AND NO
DECEMBER 20, 2011
I think most attorneys would agree that engineers make very poor witnesses due to the fact that one would be hard pressed to hear the words never, always, yes and no when asked a question. That is simply because those words can never be used to define any activity so simply. There are always "yeahbuts and nobuts". After our last cat left the planet, we decided that we would not redog or recat since we planned to cruise. Our decision was a good one since domestic critters aboard mean more duties and in some cases exclusion from some countries. We had no reason to change our minds as we cruised the waterways of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Who really wants to get up at 0600 and head to shore for necessary dog duties? Stories abound about how the cruise changed due to Phydeaux. We saw evidence of this daily along the way so that never almost applied. Us? No way.
OK, so now comes reality. Whilst the Bear was going to Curves™ today she noticed a truck on the way. Sign said Schnauzer puppies. So much for resolution and firm rules. We would like to announce our newest crew member. Our new first mate goes by the name Scurv. So much for never.
12/19/2011, Hill Country of Texas
A Faint Glow
December 19, 2011
In just a few days, it will have been two years since we stepped aboard Why Knot in Port Aransas and started our cruise "with no plan, destination or schedule". The tired cliché comes to mind that a lot of water has passed under the keel since then but not as much as we expected. There were some diversions along the way that tempered the excitement but never the enthusiasm. Each day here in the Hill Country is a record time that we have not taken sea air since first boating in the salt air. Why Knot gets some exercise in our absence thanks to the folks at Wilmington Marine Center in the form of warm ups at the dock but that does not add memories to the locker. For the first time in well over six months, we can now, with a bit of effort, gaze down what was a dark tunnel and see a faint glow at the end, so to speak. We are allowing ourselves to think aloud about that time when we will climb back aboard. We won't have to wait until Bear can run a marathon but can simply board and sit safely and painlessly. To that end the "go box" has materialized with replacement foulies, some charts and general stuff. As usual, we don't know how big it will get. Our experience has somewhat altered our understanding of what is necessary aboard for an extended cruise but preliminary discussions include the "where do we want to go" conversations. Given the fact that when we do climb aboard and point her to sea, we will be far enough north to at least think about time in the Chesapeake and perhaps ports beyond. After all, it is only about 900 nautical miles (as the crow flies) to the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia from Wilmington. It is just a matter of heading down the Cape Fear River, out the inlet and hang a left. Humm, I wonder? In the meantime, we will keep watching that faint glow. Please don't pass this along to our troll as we want to sneak up on him when we return.
ZERO, TWENTY FIVE, SIXTY FIVE
December 13, 2011
Ok, so the day started with a coffee made on one of those single brewing machines. The only glitch was that two minutes into it I noticed the cup was upside down. I guess I was distracted a bit by the events of yesterday for fellow Texas cruisers who finally made it across the Mississippi in New Orleans. I have been following their Spot reports as they left Corpus Christi and made their way along the ICW west of Harvey Locks. They are starting live their dream and part of that is getting into the routine of dealing with bridges and locks. With few exceptions, most bridges in three heights above the water. Zero clearance bridges are not common but they do exist. The Bayou Blue Bridge in Southern Louisiana is typical. It is a floating bridge that swings out of the way. There are many bridges at twenty five feet. They are plentiful along the Atlantic ICW. Most open on schedule and some open on demand. The fixed bridges are usually sixty five feet which we can go under.
There is some trepidation for the first timer, particularly for South Texas sailors, about locks and bridges. For most, there is no experience to draw upon. Certainly, that was true in our case. By the time one gets to Harvey Lock or alternatively Algiers Lock, one has graduated from the short course in bridges and locks. The final test is New Orleans, which requires a sailboat crew to deal with two heavy commercial locks and at least seven bridges. Once tied up in New Orleans, the fatigue sets in as dealing with that gauntlet is a full day's work. I was reminded of our little ordeal there by our friends who timidly asked, not meaning to resurrect old nightmares, which bridge was it that you hit? It is definitely true that cruising beyond New Orleans, east of Harvey Lock, gets easier. Although there are far more bridges along the Florida coast, the traffic is mostly pleasure boating, thus easier. We have not counted the bridges we have passed thus far in our cruise but the count is in the dozens. Not that we are old hands at it but we trust the clearance scales and no longer look up as we pass under them but that one bridge in New Orleans still looms large in our memories. We say to our friends soon to head east of Harvey Lock: Let the cruise begin. We hope to see you along the way.
12/08/2011, Still in Texas- WK in North Carolina
October 3, 2011
It was a long day getting to the anchorage. It was too far to make a port so that was the only option. One travels at just over walking speed. It is sort of a forced sensory rebuilding exercise. As we have cruised, it comes almost every day; that fifty mile run toward no particular place. So it was during the passages through the Low Country of the Carolinas. We have passed some of those places three times now. They start to become familiar. One knows what is around the bend or beyond that river or mile marker. Unlike the crowded parts of Florida, the run from Fernandina, Florida (the northernmost port in Florida) to Wilmington, NC is mostly rural with passages through beautiful tidal grasslands. It is a bit like standing in wheat fields that stretch for miles. There are abundant opportunities to drop the hook in a backwater creek or some nook along the waterway and that is the real reward of being on a boat. We found places where the bug population is a bit of a nuisance but for the most part, the rewards of those long, winding ancient rivers far outweighs the occasional horse fly bite. Even in the heat of the summer, there is usually a breeze that cools down after the sunset. Of course, the lone mosquito that came aboard a few miles back waits until the big toe is exposed in the midnight depth of dreamless sleep. It delivers the wake up bite in the wee hours just in the hairy patch next to the toenail. You know the place. It is just where you cannot get to it without being fully awake.
That said, it is the first rays of the new day, well before the sunrise, that enters the consciousness and in a very gentle way brings on the process of remembering where you are. The day's planning starts with thoughts of that first cup of coffee or glass or orange juice. The Bear is usually in her deepest REM about then so the idea is to make little noise, get really small so as not to bump her getting out of the rack and get topside with the coffee. Of one is lucky, the reward is second to none. It makes little difference as to the actual location for the Low Country anchorages are a reminder of life before cities and cars perhaps in a time when large critters meandered the ooze of the area. The history of that area makes for some wonderful imagination as to the early activities, perhaps during the Revolution when Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox roamed the back waters. The early morning haze or light fog seems to soften the first rays of the day. It is at that time when it is quiet and usually calm. There is a bit of dew on the deck and the dodger is coated with condensation. The air is thick but comfortable. One can almost hear heartbeats. The cockpit cushions are arranged to keep the chill down behind the dodger. One wiggles down in those cushions and takes the first sip of the day. Not talking here about the coffee, but the first sip of the wonder, the sights and sounds of the new day. What is to be our next stop? Where shall we go today? Will there be any challenges? Will we see old friends along the way? After a few minutes, the ultimate decision of the day presents itself: Do I sneak back to the rack for another snooze or do I finish the coffee and leave the Bear sleeping? It is 0545 and no one will know if I do the former. Nawh, sit here you fool and soak up the treasure that is before you. Watch the world wake up. See the dolphin patrolling the shoreline as they swing by the boat to explore the boat. The minnows are schooling and hugging the hull to live another day. Was that a bear on the shore line? There are spots on the stainless. Do I really want to get the polish? Sit the heck down and enjoy the scene. Resist the temptation to wake the Bear to see this.
The San Antonio Express travel section a few weeks ago featured an article by the former Mayor, Phil Hardberger about his passage up the AICW. He mentioned the day when he approached Why Knot from astern. We remember that encounter just opposite the Kings Bay Sub base when we were hailed over the VHF from someone asking if we were really from Port Aransas. They noticed the Texas flag on our signal halyard and then our hailing port. What a nice surprise it was. That day, we saw a Boomer returning from a patrol, encountered a friend from Texas and had one really great anchorage. That's three unique events on the AICW aside from the absolute joy of the Low Country.
To those debating the value of "doing the ditch" through the Carolinas and Georgia we say that to skip that area is to miss some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen so far. Let the area show you history, flora and fauna and the joy of the wispy fog of the early morning.