Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oh Yeah... I Remember Sailing...

Dense morning fog
It is impossible not to use the four-letter-word… PLAN.  I must have a plan.  It’s in my blood, it’s a part of my personality that I’m struggling with while Cruising.  Most days, I do OK.  But not today…

We had the next week and a half planned out on the eve of our departure from Seabrook Marine.  But several things I had heard from Dani and Tate during our dinner that evening must have planted kernels in my brain...

I woke up at 2:30 am in a cold sweat!  I went over the things that were causing me to doubt our plan...

1.  Dani had asked why we weren't going through Lake Pontchartrain.  I had no real answer other than it was out of the way… We were kind of fitting in stops for weather windows and it just wasn’t on our list.

2.  During dinner Dani started to say something about a bridge but Tate told her that we had already passed that way to get here...  What was she going to say?

3.  Tate told us that there was dredging equipment in the anchorage we planned for our first night...

I had to resolve my doubts or lose my mind.  While Bruce slept on beside me, I downloaded a copy of the Notice to Mariners (4th edition for November) and combed through it, surprised at the number of spots I recognized…  We have a problem.  I could find nothing about the dredges, but I did find that the bridge Dani had questioned was supposed to have required a two hour notice...  Why did they let us through without giving advanced notice coming in, and would they require it going out.  Not such a big deal, we can call ahead two hours before we leave...

But the kicker was that the flood gates we would need to pass through were CLOSED for repairs!  Can they do that? I began to plot an alternate route through the Lake and the Rigolets which would take us to the same spot for our first night, but I was in a spin...

By the time Bruce woke up at 4:30, I had a raging headache.  I'd had a plan and now it’s all shot!   Bruce and I went over the charts together and found that Dani was right.  Going the Lake route would be fine.  It sounded like a great detour, but I was still grumpy about the change…

Using the wi-fi at the Marina office
I spent the morning trying to mentally adjust. Top it off with a West Marine delivery promised to us that did not happen, and the Lake being socked in with a dense fog…  We were delayed again!  I was snippy!

Bruce, fearful of causing some kind of unpleasant event, cautiously broached the subject of yet another change…  There’s a place across Lake Pontchartrain called Mandeville, he told me.  There is a free dock there with electricity and water.  We could sail across the lake.  

Well, since he prefaced his proposal so as not to cause my head to spin around… I considered it.  OK, lets do it.

We hopped on the boat (I had been hanging out at the marina office using the wi-fi) and headed towards the lake.

Two bridges later, we were gliding along with nothing but wide open space in front of us.  Sparkling, gentle waves and no banks for miles!  It was gorgeous with the lingering haziness from the morning fog.  I began to feel my evil demon loosen her grip a little…

We got the autopilot calibrated and it WORKS!  Clouds parted angels sing!  Bruce raised the mainsail, then rolled out the jib.  Engine off and whats this?  We’re still moving!  With no engine!  How could this be!?

New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain
It’s been so long since we’ve sailed this boat, we forgot what it’s like!  I waved goodbye to New Orleans and to the demon inside my head.  We were both grinning and it just felt so good.  It is indescribable.  No narrow banks, no barge traffic, no worries.  

Jezabelle taking a stroll mid lake
The winds were perfect just aft of our Port beam.  The water was no problem, no chop just a gentle procession of small waves.  Jetsam came out and even Jezabelle joined us in the cockpit for a while.  There was no seasickness!  Another miracle!

We were sorry to see the winds die and our boat speed drop to the point we were forced to drop sails and start the engine once again if we hoped to make it to our destination by dark.  With the threat of fog, we reluctantly gave up sailing once again and motored the remaining 3.5 miles to Mandeville.  

We arrived as the sun was low but we could still see the marvelous fall colors and green trees dotting this quaint town’s waterfront.  We slipped inside the breakwater and brought the boat to a gentle stop alongside the transient wall.  We even had some help with the lines from a couple of fellows already docked here.  

The difference in my attitude at that moment from that of the morning, could not have been more opposite.  The highs and the lows… that’s what Cruising is all about.

I still have to remind myself that it’s OK to change the plan, go with the flow, do something spontaneous.  But my other self says that I need to plan and prepare and study and have everything lined out…  How will I ever reconcile the two?  Time will tell… but with a few more sailing days like today… I know I’ll be alright.

Flocks of thousands of birds disturbed by our course flew up and landed

Bruce continually tweaked the sails... who are we racing?

He worked while I relaxed
Impossible not to relax with this view

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how often the motor needs to be restarted to finish a Lake crossing.