I arrived aboard Chip Ahoy under
overcast sky and no wind late Saturday morning.
Sat., Sep. 22, 2012
morning – with the autumnal equinox arriving this morning and fall
officially upon us – I decided to take Chip Ahoy out for a sail that
would end at Misery Island’s cove for the night. The weather forecast
was decent though the sky was gray: it would supposedly clear by
late-morning with a breeze picking up later. The temperature would come
close to reaching 70° and drop only to the low-60s overnight, but
occasional and scattered showers would develop overnight and into early
I took the
launch out and was aboard by about 11:00 am, ready to cast off the
mooring just before noon. The sky was still overcast and there was
utterly no wind, so I motored out of the harbor and into Salem Sound,
expecting something of a breeze out there, if not soon.
On the way
out I motored by “Malacass” to see if John Graichen was out, but it was
on its mooring. Maybe I’ll see him on Sunday on my way back in. Once out
of the harbor and into the Sound there was nothing but dead air and gray
overcast, the sea was flat. Another small sailboat was motoring in
without sails, never a good sign of better things to come, so I kept
motoring. Oh well, I’m cruising and that’s why I’ve got a reliable
outboard, I guess.
the cove of Misery Island at about 2:30 and picked out an empty mooring
at its entrance, where I usually grab one – later to prove a mistake. I
prefer the outer moorings for convenience and privacy. The ones further
in, closer to shore, are usually taken and crowded by the day-cruising
party crowd. Today was no exception, with larger powerboats rafted up
two and three on a single mooring.
Once tied up
to an empty private mooring (labeled “Loren”) I settled in for the
night. With rain showers overnight still in the forecast and the sky,
though now only partly cloudy with breaks of sunshine, testifying to the
probability or showers I deployed the “pup tent” over the boom. While I
cooked dinner on the Origo stove a contest began between a visiting gull
and a Canada goose for the scraps, later joined by a threesome of
mallard ducks. As the evening set in some of the moored boats began
departing; I was somewhat surprised by the number which remained, and a
few more which arrived around or after dusk.
It was a
quiet evening aboard. I hadn’t brought along the laptop for a mere
overnighter so read for a while, finishing one of the books I’d brought
along and starting another. It got cool quickly once the sun set (soon
after 6:30 pm), so I closed up two cribboards, finally all three before
crawling beneath the down-filled sleeping bag. By that time Chip Ahoy
had begun rocking more than usual here.
around midnight to some real rocking and rolling – and what sounded like
that old ‘keel thunk’ sound/vibration. I opened the companionway and
checked things, found steady rollers coming in between Misery and House
Islands. The boats further inside the cove were faring better but it was
too late to move in closer – the ‘pup tent’ was up and would need to be
taken down to make any move in the dark. Hey, I was on the lee of Misery
Island, at the mouth of the cove where I’ve spent many a night
comfortably. I closed up the boat and went back to sleep – but noted
that even lying flat on my back I was rolling on the bunk with the
swells – using isometric muscles even at rest – and the swells were
This went on
all night, though I slept more or less well regardless. The thunking
with each bigger swell kept me more awake than the rolling. By pre-dawn,
morning fog had settled in, and the swells maintained the rolling. I
observed the boats moored just a bit further inside the cove and made a
mental note: Never grab this outside mooring in the future, get further
inside and grab one.
were rolling in between Misery and House Islands to east, the surf
crashing over the rocky nearby shore, but the wind was building from the
northwest, getting stronger. While I was boiling water on the stove for
the first cup of ‘tea bag’ coffee I turned on the VHF to the NWS weather
channel. The wind was coming from the west at 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 –
but supposedly would turn to SW and decrease to 5-10 later. Though I’d
planned to depart around 10:00 am, taking down the ‘pup tent’ in this
wind would be difficult. I decided to hold off until the wind calmed.
While talking with Barbara on the cell phone one of the aft bungie cords
securing the ‘pup tent’ popped free from the lifeline stanchion – a
first ever – a corner of the tarp was snapping in the wind. I scurried
to secure it, was amazed the cord was still aboard in the cockpit.
third cup of coffee and a short nap, at noon the wind was still blowing
strong with no sign of diminishing. Even within the outer cove, with the
rollers coming in from the east and the wind blowing from the SW, the
water was choppy.
I decided to
try figuring out a way to get the tarp off the boom without losing it. I
removed the six bungie cords then climbed forward past the flapping tarp
and retied its forward line, from being secured to the mast to just run
around the mast and back to a grommet. Then from back in the cockpit
(with the companionway hatch slid all the way forward) I could reach and
unsecure it easily, walk the tarp back into the cockpit with some
control, dump it into the cabin then loosen its aft line from the end of
the boom. Folding up the tarp for stowage was still a challenge in that
wind but it took merely patience.
‘pup tent’ out of the way nothing was holding me back, so I was quickly
off the mooring and on my way home to Salem Harbor. Once I motored clear
of the cove I hoisted the main sail, but getting home required sailing
directly into the wind. The 20-25 mph gusts while close-hauled were
tricky; I was constantly playing the outhaul and tiller while heading
into the chop and spray. Finally I just dropped the main sail and
motored the rest of the way in.
the harbor proper the seas diminished to about a foot. I spotted Chip
Ahoy’s mooring at about 3:30 pm, but there was a strange mooring buoy I
thought was much too close to mine. I maneuvered into the wind and crept
up on it – definitely way too close to mine. As I was easing up to the
two, a small power boat just had to run between the two.
making this more difficult!” I shouted across to the idiot, who still
didn’t have a clue. I managed to grab my mooring, scrambled forward and
tied it off to the bow cleat, then noted the “alien” mooring ball
banging against Chip Ahoy’s port side – wonderful. I got back to the
stern quickly, raised and tilted the outboard as the ball banged into
the prop them moved around the boat, fortunately not snagging the rudder
on its pass. I radioed Mid-Harbor Launch Service and a launch quickly
came out and moved the wayward mooring. It had no eye, pennants, or
means to attach to it; the driver had to loop a line around the ball and
its chain to drag it away.
When I got
home I was exhausted, but couldn’t nap. It was the strangest sensation:
I was physically exhausted but mentally unable to sleep. When I slept
aboard, my brain must have rested while my unconscious body was
resisting the boat’s constant rolling. This was a new one for me.
It was supposed to clear soon, a breeze
to pick up, so I prepared to get underway.
Sat., Sep. 22, 2012