Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rest Up Today

We had a dreamlike day at the Fayette historic townsite, strolling around the ghost town, imagining it populated and bustling.  The next morning, skies were threatening but the weather forecast was favorable, so we set out.  An hour later, as the Dragonfly plunged heavily through the chop, we checked the weather again.  The marine weather service (accessible through our ship's VHF radio) is delivered by a metallic, robotic, automated female voice.  Usually she starts by announcing wind speed.  Today, she said, "For the region north of Rock Island, Get some rest today."

We looked at each other. Did she really say that?  The synthesized female robot? Send a message just to us?  The voice continued: "For the region north of Rock Island, winds 5 to 15 knots, waves 3 to 6 feet."  Well! That was quite a different forecast from what we'd heard an hour ago.

What do you do when you are at anchor?
Boat chores!  Like sweeping the roof
We always scan the charts before we set out, even if the forecast is favorable, to identify harbors where we can bail out if we need to. This day was tricky, because our goal was to traverse the entrance to Green Bay--about 6 miles of open water to the tip of the Door Peninsula (which forms the eastern boundary of the bay).  There was one lone semi-sheltered harbor ahead . . .  then, exposed coast or open water all the way to our next destination, Washington Island.

On the Dragonfly our motto is, "When the going gets tough . . . we drop anchor."  There are old canal boat captains, and there are bold canal-boat captains, but there are no old, bold canal-boat captains. We headed for our bail-out port, a shallow bay near the small town of Fairport. No marinas in sight (or listed in our guidebooks), but water that looked ok for anchoring.

Not long after we dropped anchor, a small powerboat zoomed out. "Everything OK?" the guy asked.  "Yup, just waiting out the wind."  It was nice to know someone was keeping an eye out.  Or maybe it's just the usual:  People can't believe they're seeing a canal boat in THESE waters and have to come take a look.

So it was 10 in the morning and we were not going anywhere till the next day.  And it was bouncy! Even in the lee of a sheltering smaller island, two-foot waves bounced us around in an irregular pattern, making it hard to work on a computer.  I put my thoughts of touch-up painting out of my mind.  Just to make the situation even more delightful, when we tried to sit out on the stern deck we were assaulted by what looked like tiny houseflies--the biting kind!
What do you do when you're wind-bound?  We read books.  Checked our route for the next week or so.  Tidied and cleaned and organized.  Cooked dinner (Pad Thai--told ya, Mom,  we're eating well on this trip.)   The Cap'n went for a swim (for those keeping tab on "How many times will the Captain go in the drink?") to check that our 45-pound plow-style anchor really did get a good grip on the bottom and we wouldn't need to do a midnight anchor re-set.

In modern times, we are used to traveling where we want, when we want, at the speed we are used to. When flights are cancelled due to bad weather, people work their cell phones frantically, to book another flight or a rental car immediately.  Sitting it out is unthinkable. And a few months ago, when a volcanic eruption caused widespread disruptions in air travel, there were far-reaching economic impacts. 

But not all that long ago, most travel WAS controlled by wind and tide.  If conditions were not right, your vessel did not set sail. Delays of hours to days were common.

On this trip, we're traveling back in time.  We're doing what sailors have always done--and what robo-girl wisely recommended. When the weather is inauspicious, sit it out, and rest up today.

P.S. If you haven't checked the blog in a while, more posts are below.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Cynthia & Bill!!!! This blog is great! What an excellent adventure this is!! Best of luck, looking forward to more posts! :-) -mel fox