Sunday, December 1, 2013

Have you left your comfort zone today?

At the entrance of an awesome park in St. Augustine: "Travel
the Universe on the wings of your imagination."
Just when Matt and I start to get a little complacent (I mean, it's been ages since we have had the windlass stop working while our anchor was halfway up or down), the universe slaps us right down. After getting beat up just coming in, the anchorage in St. Augustine handed us our ass these last couple of days.

With the 25-40 knot winds and strong opposing current, our usually rock-solid boat was spinning around like a top. We frantically pulled up anchor right in the middle of dinner because we were getting too close to another boat that was responding to the current while we were still being pushed by the wind. As trusty as our anchor is, it apparently doesn't like spinning in circles for hours in strong winds. After re-anchoring, we got progressively closer to the green channel marker and decided to move again. As soon as we started to relax and get ready for bed, the anchor decided to work its way out and then reset again. It did this another couple of times until slack tide, so we got some less than restful sleep until the next tide change.

The next day, the strong winds continued and we spun around and around, with the anchor chain hitting the hull periodically with a resounding "thud" that made us wince. Every now and then, there would be a really loud boom that we were sure was the hull being ripped open and then we would realize that it was just the cannon being fired from the fort. We felt like Sylvester the cartoon cat jumping up to the ceiling and hanging on with his claws.

Then things got worse. There was an extra-loud thud and instead of spinning around, we were stuck in one spot and stopped moving altogether. The anchor chain kept banging against the hull, scraping our newly painted bottom. The anchor line was straight behind us and tight. Worse case was that it was wrapped on the propeller or shaft. The best case was just that it was on the keel, eating up our paint which wasn't that great either. On the plus side, we were stable and not spinning anymore.  We waited a couple hours until slack tide (after unsuccessfully trying to back the boat up at one point) and the chain worked its way loose. Matt's theory is that the anchor chain got wrapped tight around the back edge of  the keel. Testing the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a  precise, engineer's scale drawing of what he thinks happened (no, I wasn't drinking when I drew it):

We raised our anchor (after cutting off a thick rope that had wrapped itself around the anchor chain in a knot of Gordian proportions) and picked up a mooring ball across the harbor. The moorings are actually very reasonable and only $10 more than the cost of parking your dinghy (which is about $10). The marina offers showers, laundry facilities, a lounge, and a launch. We had decided to anchor just on principle (we have mostly anchored and tend to trust our own gear more than random moorings), but in hindsight we really should have just taken a mooring. They are reputable moorings and we could have saved our bottom paint and gotten a better night's sleep. So, we picked up a mooring ball for the first time ever on this boat (and ever for me) and didn't even embarrass ourselves. Here's to the little wins.
So here we are on the mooring ball, still spinning but in smaller circles, with the mooring ball hitting our hull every now and then. And we seem so very close to that big catamaran next to us who is spinning around too. But we trusted that they spaced the balls correctly and slept much better last night.
This is the 450th Anniversary of St. Augustine. So yeah,
there are a lot of cannons and other old stuff.

We set off on this adventure of living aboard and traveling with kids partly to get out of our comfort zone. Well, we're doing that for sure. And although sometimes when we're in crisis mode I question this path, in the end it helps us appreciate our most modest blessings. That includes a hot shower (though Matt and boys would have had a more relaxing one if a crotchety old cruiser hadn't started yelling at them to hurry up 2 minutes after they started; the same guy proceeded to take 20 paper hand towels from the dispenser to dry himself).
This is the one and only entrance to this wonderful and
huge park that is almost impossible to find your way into.
Speaking of pushing boundaries, Dr. Stanley Paris is the 76-year old founder of St. Augustine University. His 63' custom yacht is docked here, poised to break the record for circumnavigating the world unassisted (that means no help and no engine). Because he can't run the engines he will get towed to the starting line which is a 1/2 mile offshore.  He was supposed to leave yesterday but postponed until today (perhaps because towing him through the inlet yesterday would have been insane). The whole thing makes our travels seem downright mundane.


  1. I'd recognize you anywhere standing on the deck in that scale drawing. Good likeness!

    Hope the cannon the boys are sitting on isn't one that was still being fired periodically. Although they might have found that fun!

    Spinning around in a circle all night sounds like a nightmare in itself. Are your sea legs so steady at this point you don't even notice anymore? I once went on the Wisconsin Ducks, and a speed boat went by. The wake made the duck rock, and I felt a little urpy. Guess boating is not my "thang", or I'm just a major wuss. Maybe both. (maybe?)

    Hope the weather improves and you enjoyed your Thanksgiving stinky-fish!

  2. Actually, that's supposed to be Matt but they say spouses start to resemble each other. No, we're total wusses but we put up with it because we're not too bright and we like the other stuff that comes with it. We actually had turkey and all the fixings. Hope yours was good.


Add a comment: