Wednesday, May 7, 2014

March 5 2014: off my mooring, at last!

Monday, I came across this line in my to-do list: "raise jib and see how much of the furler channel is free". Since the wind had died to a nice breeze, I snagged the opportunity....and the jib looked good. Then I tied the furler base between the pulpit stanchions to keep it from twisting....and, suddenly, the furler worked pretty darned well, rolling and unrolling the jib in moments.

Hmmm....So....the jib looked really good (other than numerous stains) and furled easily. Wind was REALLY good: not too strong, not too weak...and from the north-east so I could sail out of the harbor easily. Raised main to see how that felt....very nice.

After sitting on the bow for ten minutes, frozen in indecision, I couldn't take it any more and dropped mooring and took off....and moved without trouble past all the boats.....very sloooooooowly.

 Sailed a mile to Johnson Bay and dropped anchor where I thought the depth good, then went to work on cleaning the bottom. I don't know WHEN the oysters/scallops were last cleaned off, but there were a lot of pretty mature ones (up to 1.5"...maybe better). There were also some anemones that had sprouted up. A blue and yellow angel fish and a host of less colorful smaller fish gathered to nibble on the broken shellfish as I worked.

Once I had done about 3/4 of bottom and started to shiver, I raised the main (with some struggle: too much friction in the works..maybe the sheave on top of the mast needs replacement) unfurled the jib, and pulled the anchor (and it came RIGHT up! Nice to have the anchor roller repair work so well!). I sailed right out of Johnson Bay and headed to Haulover, hoping to buy a drink from Peter and celebrate my sailing firsts (first on this boat, first solo on a large boat, first in Caribbean). 

A nice shower poured down for ten minutes, so I closed the hatches and took some shelter below the solar panel above the helm.

Finally I reached Haulover, but saw no sign of him....and the wind SUCKED that close to the windward hills, puffing, swirling, and I headed back, but ducked around the point to the west and into Hurricane Hole, a place I've never been, and spent an hour sailing around there, occasionally getting gusts that heeled me well over (things clanked below: my house! What just fell over?!), then ran downwind, wing-on-wing, for Johnson Bay.

Although it seemed a bit cool, once I anchored I dropped into the water and got back to work, a single jack keeping me company, nibbling at the life I knocked loose. In half-an-hour, I emerged dripping and shivering, rinsed with a bucket of cool fresh water, then put on long johns, jeans, and jacket. I must be getting to be a typical tropical wimp!

After I warmed, I paddled off to look at some old moorings where I thought I saw goose barnacles. Sure enough, I found a nice bunch and detached a cluster with my thumbnail. I also harvested some oysters I'd been reluctant to eat in the murky water of Coral Harbor but felt fine about taking from these waters where one can see fish 20' or 30' away. Also collected what, judging by the byssus threads, I believe is a mussel. Tossed them all into a pot and steamed them. The mussel tasted fine, the oysters had the wonderful taste of good oysters, and the barnacles shrank to near nothing...but still tasted like crab. Two out of three ain't bad!

Now I sit on a square cushion/floatation device, back to the mast, face to the wind, the headlamp lighting my keyboard as I record the day's events. I find that my longing to sail, my desperation, my now gone. I like the boat, I enjoy the way it sails, I can do it single-handed, I am at peace about heading back to CA for a while. I will probably sail all day tomorrow, look at my maps and see if I can find park moorings in Hurricane Hole and other places, and try tying down some of the things that slid about or fell over today. This was a good start! And I hope to enjoy the quiet and lack of sodium vapor lamps here compared to the glare of my mooring in Coral Harbor. Night, y'all!

I awoke Tuesday morning to yoga on the deck under the stars, followed by a cool sunrise: blue sky, clouds, rain (far left), and a weird hole burned in the clouds. Now I am sunburned and back at my mooring after the second day of sailing....including sailing up to Angel's Rest (Peter's bar) and buying a celebratory drink....and sailing home.

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