2011 01 19
Vero Beach FL
We left Melbourne on Friday course set for Vero so we could provision for the islands and wait a good window. Departure was interesting. Melbourne River is a bit shy on depth. We found Meredith, our 38 foot Cabo Rico cutter, comfortably esconced in a mud bath. She seemed not to mind. Having been warned of the depth issue by friends George and Georgia on Agapi we arrived at Melbourne River with empty tanks and empty stores. We did not provision or take on water while there.
A fresh North Wind (20 knots) was blowing as we started up the diesel and checked systems in preparation for departure. A strong gusty wind always heightens the reluctance to get underway. The slipway into which Meredith must back, turn and depart was not as wide as Meredith was long and the docks were crowded with expensive looking boats. Neither the BC nor I had been on a boat for six weeks. It looked to be challenging.
A spring line was rigged off the port midships and loosely slung over the pylon. In case of emergency "pull the rope".
All that effort and thought proved moot. We slipped the transmission into idle reverse, the Budget Committee cast off her lines and.... Meredith just sat there mudbound. She quivered a bit and, as I fed a bit more fuel to the diesel, slowly, oh so very slowly, began to reverse herself into the slipway.
The mud in Melbourne is a marvellous viscous fluid. It does not encase; it merely surrounds. The effect is just like sailing in thick oil. Steady pressure moved the soft silty mud aside and the boat moved forward, the mud sliding into the void left by the trailing edge of the keel.
It was a joy. We turned into the slipway with not a trace of sideways motion. The wind even at a gusty 20 knots was powerless.
Never ever have I had such precise control of a boat.
Once clear the slipway we had the wind at our backs and a deserted waterway all the way to the horizon. This continued unabated all the way to Vero. Along the way we encountered only a single motor yacht. This fellow approached us at speed from astern. His wake was significant. As he drew near he made the usual radio call "White Sailboat travelling South on the ICW this is @#$%@#. We will slow as we get to your stern".
I was in a good mood what with the sun and the wind and the effortless departure. "Skipper keep your speed up. Give us a nice close pass and we are both good.". A minute later the guy tore past like Meredith were still tied up at dockside. The pass was masterful. This guy could handle his boat. No more than 15 feet separated us at the brief moment we were amidships. As he went by we turned 15 degrees into his wake and slid uneventfully and without distruption into the trough thereof. Neither of us were forced to slow and both of us appreciated the skill exhibited by the other.
It was a glorious afternoon and our mood held all the way to Vero.