good Days, Bad Days
25 March 2017 | The Saints
“Open this card for a crappy moment when nothing is going your way,” the outside of the card read. I have carried this card with me since November and was hoping not to open it.
When I started this day it was the farthest thing from my mind. The weather reports had predicted stable weather with 12-15 knots of wind and gusts of 12-15 knots. That is a pretty calm day with just enough wind to move us along. We were on the leeward side of Guadeloupe. The other times I have sailed along this coast, the Island provided a giant wind block.
We had just finished two evenings in Deshaies, Guadeloupe where I ran into another couple I had buddy boated with last season. I had not seen them since December so I was very excited to spend some time with them. A walk over to the beach, lunch, and then a nice climb over the hill back to the anchorage gave us some fun time together. My current crew mate Cherry is not that much of a hiker right now and more of a walker so she decided to walk over with us and skip the hike over the steep hill. Happy hour that evening finished a very nice day.
The next morning we were up early and weighed anchor around 7:00. We were headed to Iles Des Saintes where we plan to meet two of Cherry’s close friends and then sail with them south if weather permits.
The 26 mile sail should get us there right around 1:00. The first 15 miles went just as planned. There was a little more wind than usual but not that much more. As we reached the south side of the island the wind started to howl. 30 knots of steady blow were common and the worst part is that it changed directions so that it was right on our our nose. The seas had become rough and we were slogging through the clear water making very little head way. I had turned the motor on to help us out but it was not helping much and soon decide to quit running entirely. We headed in closer to shore to get away from the waves so I could change the fuel filters. Some bad fuel must have clogged something up.
After numerous tries we finally got the motor running again. The was a relief but the wind and waves continued to build. Soon we were getting no where and just beating ourselves up. I had remembered spending the night in Base Terre last season. It was safe but was a very rolly anchorage which means not much sleep.
We head in towards Base Terre and find a mooring ball available. The French provide mooring balls in a lot of their bays to help protect the sea bottom but the big problem is that they are not maintained well. They also install them so they are almost impossible to use. That has never made any sense to me.
We get to the ball, I grab the eye to pull it up and try our rope to it and the ring doesn’t budge. My morning pole is ripped out of my hand firmly attached to the ball as we float away.
Have I mentioned that the wind is still howling with 35 knot gusts that always appear whenever we want to do something. The waves are pitching us around like a rubber ducky in a jacuzzi.
Plan B. I untie the dingy and motor over to the ball. I connect the line from the dingy to the morning ball and wait for Cherry to bring Mile high Dream close enough for me to grab the mooring line and attach it to the ball. After five attempts she finally get it close enough for me to reach the line. As I grab for it, a wave catches the boat and the dingy and over I go, pitched into the sea with the dingy upside down.
“This was not the plan,” I say to myself. “Crap what do I do now. The dingy is upside down and the motor is soaking in salt water. Time for plan C.”
The line form the overturned dingy is wrapped around the rudder preventing either Mile High Dream or the dingy to go anywhere. “At least we aren’t floating out to sea,“ I say to Cherry. Let’s get a morning line hooked to the back of the Mile High Dream and then we will walk it up to the front.”
A good idea except that the dingy line is tied tight and won’t let the boat go froward. I grab my knife in my teeth and dive overboard and start slashing at the line in order free ourselves from the dingy. Well not quite but I did jump back in the water to cut the line.
We finally get attached to the morning ball, get the dingy flipped over and get the line unwrapped around the rudder.
The water is so clear that I can see the bottom, 40 feet below me. And I can see the seat to my dingy, my bailer pump, my mooring pole, various lines and other parts that have fallen out. The dingy did need to be cleaned but this is not how I had planned it. It looks like a giant yard sale down on the bottom and way out of reach for my abilities to dive down and save any to it. The life preservers are floating out in the bay somewhere and I no longer have a pair of oars, only one. I will be destined to row around in circles for ever.
Then we had a glass of wine and let the adrenaline wear off. No red wine tonight since we are sure that it will go flying off the table at any minute. I opened my card and tried to figure out how to make a lemon pie out of the lemons life has thrown at me today.
Tomorrow will be a new day once I get through this sleepless night of pitching and heaving.
We are both safe and that is what is important.