Rockin' & Rollin'
13 February 2008 | Warderick Wells
Beth - hot, windy
I need to temper my assessment of Emerald Rock mooring field. It was just wonderful in the north wind but on Tuesday night the wind was out of the SE and we had probably the very worst night we have ever spent aboard. We rocked and rolled vigorously in the 20-25 knot winds with gusts to 30. (I almost put viciously - but maybe that word should be saved for an even more rocky night sometime!)
We didn't get around to installing lee cloths before we left (strips of cloth along the salon seats that fasten to the seat and to the rails along the ceiling - to keep the sleeper from rolling out when sleeping there in rolling seas) and hadn't missed them till now, when the forward berth was horribly noisy and bouncy. The benches in the salon were somewhat better but I had to jam myself against the back cushion and keep a hand tucked under the seat to make sure I stayed there. We hadn't secured everything before we went to bed because we thought it was just going to be the usual kind of rocking, so when the serious stuff started, books flew off the shelves, dishes on the counter slid into the sink and even those in the cupboards were sliding and banging against the doors. I stuffed towels into every cupboard to lessen the slide, jammed computers and cameras between pillows on the floor and then got horizontal. The cabin is not the best place to be when there is serious boat movement, but our cockpit seats are so narrow that we'd have been knocked off them in a minute if we'd tried to sleep up there. At least neither of us got seasick!
Jim and I were each up to the bow a time or two just to check on the mooring line but it was fine. One thing about being on the mooring - we didn't have that residual anxiety about whether the anchor would hold. The disadvantage was that we didn't have the benefit of a long anchor rode that would have cushioned the movement a bit.
We did some more hiking on Tuesday, dinghying in as far as Butterfly Beach. The water was rough and our fuel supply was getting down so that worked very well from both perspectives. Fortunately, Sandi and Steve are kindred spirits in their love of walking so we've had dome fine times on the trail. We ceremoniously placed a small "Madcap" sign, created from a piece of driftwood, atop the pile at BooBoo Hill. We leaned over the blowholes and were amazed at the power of the wind and spray. I was expecting a low moaning sound and instead found a real snort. It comes in short powerful blasts - enough to blow your hat off and make you step back a pace or two. I could picture a powerful underwater creature snorting and blowing his demands.
A word about footwear on these hikes: I've been wearing my crocs and they have held up amazingly well on the sharp coral. I can move in and out of the water with them and they are as comfortable as always. Those $30.00 shoes are just perfect for cruising. I wear the thongs more often, but the original clog style stays on better when going up and down the hills.
The temperature has been upwards of 27C most days, and water temp has hit 30 on occasion. We've been able to swim off the boat whenever we need a refreshing dip, and our solar shower bag is always nice and warm afterward. Our towels are getting a bit salty and we are rationing water so we can't wash them. We keep a set for drying off after a salty dip and another set for drying after fresh water. They're all lightweight - heavy ones take too long to dry.
A highlight of Tuesday was a birthday celebration for Kathy on Sapphire. Mike made some fabulous smoked salmon pate (smoking the salmon on the BBQ) and a nippy blackbean dip. We toasted her health with champagne and shared some chocolate cake to top it all off. Jim and I then made the short trip back to Madcap before settling down to the nasty night I talked about at the beginning of this post.
On Wednesday, Jim and I in company with Steve and Sandi and Mike made a great long trek - about 3 hours worth across the cay, down along the Sound side and back to the Banks side, going up and down hills till we got back to Butterfly beach where we had left our dinghy. I was reminded of the flow experiences - doing that which is just barely possible. That's the way we felt by the time we got back. Thank goodness we had taken water - some snacks will be in the backpack next time we embark on a long hike. We tramped up and down, stopping to admire the glorious views, challenging our legs with steep ups and downs, and our balance with narrow bits between eroded holes in the ground. It was all very satisfying and made for a good glow of achievement. We watched the curly tailed lizards and the tiny straight tailed ones. We stopped to read signs about the dozen different kinds of vegetation. It may look barren and scrubby here but there are an amazing number of shrubs and grasses and trees that are perfectly suited to this hot, saline environment.
We learned something about beaching dinghies too - we had pulled ours upand set the anchor the way we usually do, but had left the anchor line slack. Unfortunately, that meant that when the tide came in, the dinghy floated out enough to be the recipient of wave after wave of salt water. By the time we got there, it was well and truly swamped. Our dinghy bag with lights, depth sounder, handheld VHF was soaked and the gas tank was afloat. I bailed furiously until Mike and Jim managed to tip the thing over and get the rest of the water out. We were so lucky that the motor started up right away.
Wednesday night was rocky but much more tolerable than the night before. We watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and headed off to bed in good time.