Shark River, Chapter One

You may have picked up that John likes to go looking for adventure and that I am a gullible and foolish woman.  We knew there was a small craft advisory (winds of 22-33 knots, or 25-38 mph) on the day we left for the 61 mile sail to the Shark River.  But one of us thought, advisory schmisory, and if we can’t learn to sail in the big winds sixty miles from your parent’s condo then when would we prefer to learn, in the pirated seas off of Africa?  You want to embrace the experience so you know what to do when the big stuff comes!   Also, small crafts are considered anything to sixty feet and we have forty two so it hardly even counts.  They’re just warning the little fishing boats.  Our boat is made for this!

Off we went once again waving to my parents as we rolled past their condo in the first light hour of the morning.  We put up our full sails and very pleasantly reached 7.8 knots.  The boat will go 8 knots according to the manual.  Ha!  Ha!  We are sailors!  Hear us roar!  And we zoomed out past Marco.

Funny thing though, as we started heading out to sea to avoid some nasty shoals the winds grew.  They didn’t blow in the direction that was forecast, but they blew straight at us.  It was a very difficult point of sail.  When there is too much wine (Silly typo!  There is no such thing as too much wine!) err, wind, the sails will control you rather than the other way around.  They can knock you down, or blow you over until they hit the sea and you are no longer vertical.  We brought in the jib a little.  Then the seas got bigger and we were having a hard time staying on course so we reefed in the mainsail.  (Made the big sail smaller.)  But the wind wasn’t done blowing and seas weren’t done growing so we set a second reef and then pulled in the jib altogether.  Yet we still couldn’t keep our course so we thought we’d completely drop the sails, fire up the iron jenny (diesel engine) and power around this 8 miles off shore shoal area, head closer to land and once safely around set sails again.  We dropped the sails and started the engine.

The wind was howling and the seas were tossing us.  We immediately smell something hot and fuel like.  No, it wasn’t John’s breath, but good guess.  John goes below to check it out and finds that the stuffing box (remember the big wrenches?) came apart and there was sea water spewing in the engine compartment.  The bilge alarm was going off similarly to the sirens in my own head.  We cut the engine and I sailed on bare poles and was making three plus knots with absolutely no help other than the wind pushing our boat hull.  Forty five minutes later the stuffing box was sealed tight and the engine was running.  But the princess had enough “experience” for one day and was not ready for another fifty miles of it.  We turned around and headed back to Marco.  Five hours after we left we were tucked back into our slip.  Humph.  Humph.  We are sailors.  Hear us mew like kittens.



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