Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Sailing Adventure Part 3

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Todd looked up from the Eldridge tide chart and clicked on the laptop one more time, “OK, looks like this afternoon is our chance to get back to Narragansett Bay. The weather’s going to suck on Thursday and the wind we saw last night is only going to get worse.” He turned the page in the Eldridge, “The tide’s going out around 2 today. We’ll pick up about 3 extra knots of speed by going out with the tide. We need to be ready to leave right then.”

“OK, sounds good,” I replied as I carried two bowls of dog food onto the deck. “Let’s get these guys ashore right after they get fed.” When we’re at home the dogs get fed twice per day, once in the morning and then once when we get home from work in the evenings. Feeding them two small meals every day helps them keep their metabolism high, so they won’t get flabby. While we’re on the boat we only feed them in the morning, this way we can control their digestion a bit, and not have to walk them ashore twice.

The biggest problem with this plan is that we tend to feed them a bit later in the morning on the boat. In the time between their waking up and their feeding, their digestive systems continue to percolate. If we don’t get them shore immediately after feeding them, then we end up having to scoop poop off the deck of the boat.

We don’t actually mind if they poop on the deck. If they have to go they have to go, and there’s nothing we can do about it. They’re trained to use the foredeck if they need to. But if we can get them to go ashore, then it’s one less thing to worry about. So far every morning on the trip has involved scooping poop because even at our fastest, we didn’t move quick enough.

“OK, I’ll pull the dinghy to the side of the boat, let’s get them in it fast,” Todd shut off the laptop and climbed the stairs onto the deck.

From the cockpit I saw Nemo squat on the starboard side, “Dammit!!” I groaned as I went back below to get the Green Works, the scrub brush and paper towels.

Getting into the dinghy with the dogs has become more challenging over the years. Griffen’s impulse control has waned, and his separation anxiety has increased drastically. In recent years he’s begun randomly jumping into the water because he cannot contain his desire to swim. I’ve watched him lie across the edge of the boat and stare longingly at the water below, then pace as if to wait for the urge to pass. Eventually he cannot take it anymore and needs to feel the water on his fur. His brain becomes focused on swimming, that it shuts itself off to any other stimulus. He sits back on his haunches and prepares for the leap into the water, his eyes intently focused on the glistening surface. He doesn’t hear the “Griffen! NONONONONONONO!” from his humans. He hits the water, and an expression of pure joy and relief crosses his face. As he swims, his humans grouse at each other, “You were supposed to watch him!” “Me? I told you to get him!”

While Todd pulls the dinghy up to the side of the boat, Griffen also lets out this horrible yowl, as he fears being left alone on the boat without his people. I don’t know if he fears we’ll never come back or if he thinks that where ever we go will be fun for dogs and he’ll miss out. But he makes this screechy howl that makes my teeth itch. No amount of commanding him to be quiet, or even forcing his snout shut, will stop him.

Todd stepped into the dinghy, “Nemo, come on pal!” he called. Nemo easily leaped from the deck onto the pontoon of the dinghy, while Griffen screeched at the injustice of being left behind. I climbed in, and then Griffen clumsily flopped in. I instinctively grabbed Griffen’s collar and forced him to sit. He will only sit for .05 seconds before trying to jump from the dinghy into the water, so we command him to “sit!” over and over for the entire ride to the beach.

Westport Point has miles of pristine beach. The sand is soft, and there are few rocks unlike other New England beaches. We pulled the dinghy onto the soft shore and the dogs hopped out and began exploring. Griffen barreled into the water, while Nemo sniffed near the sand dunes. I donned my shorty wetsuit and joined Griffen in the water. The incoming tide was strong, and I felt the water force against my legs as I waded in. A sandbar presented itself and I called to Todd, “I am going to swim out to that sandbar with Griffen.”

Approximately a third of the way to the sandbar I turned to the shore and noticed that I’d been carried several yards over from where we beached the dinghy. I heard the dinghy motor behind me, Todd called out to me, “We’re joining you guys on the sandbar.” He passed Griffen and I, and beached the dinghy onto the sandbar. Nemo jumped out and splashed around in the knee deep water. I turned to Griffen just as he turned to head back to the beach. He was closer to the sandbar, but sought the stable ground of the beach as he fought the current. I doubled back and put a hand on his collar and we swam together.

The sand abruptly curved upward, and we were able to stand. We climbed onto the sandbar where Todd was playfully chasing Nemo. The water splashed around them, and Griffen and I couldn’t resist joining in the fun.

We splashed around on the sandbar until the tide had come in to the point where the dinghy no longer would rest on the sand. We climbed in and headed back to Sabine for a shower and lunch.

At 2 PM I untied the mooring line. The wind was directly from the west at 20-30 miles per hour. We exited the harbor and followed the GPS heading to the buoy that marks the end of the channel. Sabine rolled back and forth on waves that were forecasted at 2-4 feet, but looked more like 4-6.

We reached the buoy and turned the boat west and directly into the wind. Our speed dropped to 3 knots, even with the tide pushing us along. The wind was stronger offshore and it battled the outgoing tide and created the humongous waves that Sabine teetered over. We rode the waves for about 10 minutes then Todd said, “OK, at this speed we are in for a 10 hour ride to Newport. This is going to be a miserable fucking ride.”

“So, what do you want to do?”

“I think we should head back. This is dangerous and stupid.”

“But you had said that tomorrow would be even worse,” I reminded him.

“Well, then we’ll have to stay in Westport until Friday, then,” he sighed. “I just know that I don’t want to go today.”

We turned around and headed back into Westport.

“So, you want to try the other place for dinner tonight? We did try the one place already, might as well try the other place in town,” I shrugged.

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