Straight Lines

Some times, especially with a sailboat, straight lines just aren’t in the cards. Wide swings to avoid reefs and sand bores, zigs and zags to work one’s way up wind (and in this case, against the current) are just part of the game. [Soundings on chart are in meters.]

The two and a half hour sail shown here was done in 20 knot ENE winds with half the mainsail and about a quarter of the genoa. If we had understood the situation beyond the shelter of the marina more fully, we would have hanked on the staysail before leaving Spanish Cay and would have flown it instead of the partial genoa.

We have become spoiled with instant access to US weather information. It has dulled our perception of this Bahamian world around us. So, while we are in info-detox, we actually appreciate the opportunity to quickly get back in tune with the cues nature offers us.

Here, however, we have an oxymoronic situation. The staysail requires us to leave the cockpit to set and secure it — but underway, the staysail is required mostly in conditions when one really doesn’t want to leave the cockpit. If we had seen our future more clearly in 2004, we would have installed a roller furling staysail when we equipped the boat. But that was eight years ago (wow), and we failed to imagine our present (wonderful) situation.

If, by the time we return to the US we feel as we do now, we know a sail maker who is going to get an order for a furling staysail.

So that’s been added to the to-do list and put in the can’t do anything about it here and now column.

Changing tacks…

We’ve made arrangements to stay in Marsh Harbour for a month. We’ll explore our way down there over the next two weeks and then from there for a while. Before we do much exploring, we have to figure out how much the boat actually draws — how much water we are in when we run aground.

What, you say? Well, we’ve sailed in brackish water for three decades since leaving salty Florida in ’80. We know what we draw in the Chesapeake with one water and one fuel tank filled and a few weekends of food aboard. We don’t know what we draw in much denser seawater with all fuel and water tanks full and two and a half months of provisions aboard.

While intuition tells us it’s a wash, most of the places we want to visit require us to enter and leave on the upper third of the tide. High tides come twice a day 12:10+/-  hours:minutes apart. So they define an arrival and departure rhythm that either forces one to leave later than makes sense for the next destination, or potentially, if one is in a marina, to stay longer (more expensively*) than planned to get back in phase with the tides.

Some times, straight lines just aren’t in the cards…

*There is an ad campaign, “It’s Better in the Bahamas.” We don’t dispute that one whit, but one may also observe: “It’s Double in the Bahamas,” and not be too far off.

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