S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Joe's Guest Blog

A five day cruise aboard Delilah at first sounded like a good idea. In truth, it turned out to be a death-defying, 92 hour, 1 long day @ sea, living at a 45 degree angle and eating beef raviolis out of the can for every meal experience.

I began to have my doubts as I boarded the Yellow Air Taxi in Fort Lauderdale. The yellow Cessna looked like it had seen its day. As I looked out over the wing on my side, there were rivets, screws, and hatches missing. I assured myself the plane was safe because they fly in it all the time, right? They wouldn’t let people in it if it wasn’t safe, right? Well, we got off the ground OK, took a sharp left @ about 20 feet and flew right over the terminal @ roof top level. They do this all the time, right? As we headed for Treasure Cay, there was a terrific headwind which made for a bumpy and slow flight. Landing @ Treasure Key about 90 minutes later, the pilot turned towards the runway, those headwinds were now at our side, and the plane wanted to land sideways. It was a white knuckle landing, and I was very glad to have touched down. I had no idea this was only to clear customs and we would have to take off and land again. Taking off was worse! It was down the runway, up and an instant bucking bronco ride, going sideways and bouncing all over the place. The pilot must have thought it would be amusing to buzz his friend's house @ the tip of the cay, smiling like a madman, he turned to me and said, “If they ask why we were so low, we will tell them there was a plane above us HA HA HA!" Well we landed alright, same thing, sideways, but at least that was the last time. I thought to myself, at least I’ll be taking the boat back, that will be much safer.

Dean was at the dock waiting for me: it was good to see him. Jill greeted me at the boat; it was good to see her as well.

After a couple of days waiting for the weather to settle, Dean said it was time to go; Sunday, about noon, we headed north. It was very unsettling for me, being a power boat guy, to have 10’ seas at our beam, and 20+ knot winds. We're going to turn around, right? Dean assured me that the boat would not capsize. Although the rail was in the water, and the sink was filling with seawater, Dean continued to assure me that the boat would not capsize, something about 4 tons of lead, big keel, blah, blah, blah. He also said that if it does flip, it will quickly right itself. Well, that made me feel better!

For the next 30 hours or so, we pounded north, rail in the water, and Jill bailing out the sink, each of us doing 3 hour watches at the helm with this crazy gizmo doing the steering. I still don’t know how it worked. I pondered over it for hours on watch, I didn’t want to appear stupid, but I asked Dean anyway, he mumbled something about the wind, the rudder, and ropes all over the place. It made this noise like everything was going to pop any minute. Dean was right again though, it really worked, kept us on course, despite the wind and seas, but I still can’t figure out how.

The first night at sea, the seas still about ten feet, wind still howling at our beam, I could only lie in the cockpit, tethered to the floor, with that steering contraption singing its song. Going below was difficult, I certainly couldn’t sleep down there. When I did go below to use the head, I ended up slamming my head on something, I don’t know what, but I saw stars, groping in the dark to see if my ear was still attached. It wasn’t until things calmed down, days later, that I admitted to Jill it was my blood on her pillow.

By the second night at sea, things really calmed down, it started out a beautiful, calm moonlight night. I was on the midnight to three watch, and really enjoying myself. Dean and Jill were sleeping below, and I thought things were great until I saw the squall line up on the horizon. At first it only rained a little, then a little more, then came the winds. It wasn’t too bad, not as bad as before anyway. That was when I heard this noise straight out of the movie White Squall, this incredible gust of wind from nowhere came and heeled the boat over, like nothing I had felt before. My feet were on the port gunnel, and I was grasping for the starboard rail. I swear I was standing straight up and down. The boat seemed to stay there forever. JILLLLLLLLLL……!!!! I SHOUTED IN PANIC. She peaked her head out and said, “Looks like we have a little squall, I don’t think it will get any worse, but if it does, wake me up." And with that, she went back to bed. Well! I was terrified, but shook it off. The squall settled down, but it took the rest of my watch to calm down. I spent the second night at sea, tethered to the floor in the cockpit, wondering how they would handle my obituary in the Town Crier. I was sure I would not survive this trip.

The remainder of the trip was quite uneventful, seas were calm, life was good. With the exception of a couple of minor engine problems, drifting into a flotilla of warships, and catching an excellent mahi mahi, things were pretty routine.

When dawn broke on the fifth day, I was still in the cockpit, feeling like I was in Water World. But today we would see land, and eat some real food.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I would like to thank Dean and Jill for including me in their crew. It was an adventure I will never forget. I learned many things. I learned the basics of sailing, I learned what the sails and all the other stuff are called. I learned that the boat will not flip over, but if it does, it will quickly right itself. I learned that in Marsh Harbour, there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. I also learned that if you drift into a flotilla of warships, they will get out of your way. I learned the Delilah is a great boat, seaworthy and sound, with an excellent captain and crew. Most importantly, I learned that although sailing is fun, I will keep my diesel powered sport fisherman, and when the rail of the Capt. Easy goes in the water, I’ll know it’s time to turn around and head for port.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there I was reading about some power boater named Joe with his wet rails, screaming rigging, and his bottom hauled over for all the world to see and I can remember is motoring at 10K rpms around St. John. I note a certain inequality.
Nice blog would that I have been lashed to the deck.

PMS Etienne

12:37 PM  

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