Monday, June 28, 2010

11 Days Left

The claw marks on my cubicle walls at work are becoming more prominent. Only 11 more days until vacation. And only 4 more days until we do the New York City part of the trip.

Over the weekend we took the boat to Jamestown on an overnight so we could test out the new gear we installed—kind of like a dress rehearsal for the New York City leg. The radar failed, and Todd needs to call Raymarine to speak to tech support and find out why.

But everything else about the trip was astoundingly perfect. We set out on Saturday with our friends Sean and Heidi at nearly noon. The annual Air Show was going on at the former Quonset Point AFB, just to the south of us. We avoided the swath of boats anchored along the base by sailing on the eastern side of Hope Island. Then we cut between Hope and the northern tip of Jamestown, under the Jamestown Bridge and into Dutch Harbor on the western side of the island. (At one point the iPod played “Dead of Alive” by Bon Jovi, and I got this overwhelming urge to go crab fishing.) As we sailed we watched The Thunderbirds do their aerobatic show. They buzzed over our boat in formation as we waved and jumped up and down.

We puttered around on the boat (Todd and I did the somewhat-but-not-really annual maintenance on the toilet, so it would once again be functional. Sean and Heidi took a nap.) and then we all went ashore for dinner at our favorite island haunt, Tricia’s Tropigrill.

Sunday the fog moved in from the mouth of the bay and quickly obscured important obstacles like the Jamestown Bridge, other boats, islands, etc. We puttered around on the boat for the morning. Sean and Heidi took the dinghy and explored Dutch Island. Todd installed the brand new bitchen stereo, I read.

The fog lifted and we sailed off the mooring. We didn’t turn on the engine. We put the sails up, untied the lines and easily sailed out of the mooring field and north back to East Greenwich. I took over the helm just north of the Bridge. With the wind coming directly from behind we extended the main sail all the way to the right and stuck out the jib all the way out to the left and propped it out with the whisker pole. The wind shoved us right along until we approached the swath of anchored boats watching the air show.   The Thunderbirds once again accompanied us as we sailed.  I looked up and wondered if the pilots were looking down at us thinking "Man, I would love to be down there sailing."  Because I looked up at them and said "man, I would love to be up there flying."

I decided that the crowd would be too much for me to sail all the way through, so I tacked to the east just before reaching the anchored boats. The wind was directly perpendicular to the boat, which is Sabine’s preferred point of sail. I watched the speedometer climb to 6.8 knots, as the boat healed over in the wind. We all held on tightly, and squeezed every ounce of speed out of the wind. Once east of Hope Island, I headed the boat to the north east at which point I tacked to the north west and sailed back into Greenwich Bay.

You’ll notice the overuse of “I” in the last paragraph. That’s because I ran the boat most of the way back, which is rare. I was in the zone. The wind and sail position was more intuitive than it ever was before. Normally I have to think very hard about how to position the sails when the wind or our direction changes. Not yesterday. It came naturally, and came to me instinctually.

Todd lounged on the aft deck with Sean, while Heidi hung in the cockpit with me. The sun warmed my shoulders. The boat moved smoothly through the water. The dogs dozed and only moved in and out of the shade to control their environment by warming themselves in the sun and cooling themselves in the shade. It was relaxing for Todd to not have to run the boat all afternoon. He drank a Mike’s in the sun and laughed with Sean.

We started the motor as we approached our home port of Greenwich Cove. Todd, Sean and Heidi lowered the sails, and then I pointed the boat homeward. The laughter died down as we approached; our trip was ending and it felt like it was too soon.

But in 4 days we will all be together on the boat again, and this time heading to a port where we’ve never been to by boat. Look, there’s another claw mark on the wall.

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