Friday, May 31, 2013

Meredith Underway: Albania on the Horizon

2013 05 30
Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

If it were not an offence to my best friend in all the world, my Oxford Concise dictionary, I would describe the departure from our winter home in the seaside town of Marina di Ragusa on Sicily as Inauspicious.  Out of respect I cannot do this.  It was a total FUBAR plain and simple.

Sailors always plan their departure for early early in the morning.  First drop of sunlight hits the deck and most sailors want to be up and away.  It is not uncommon at all to see people in total darkness weighing their anchors and positioning themselves for departure. This is not eagerness to be off on an adventure.  Such insomniac behaviour is inspired by the fear that someone will see them make a mistake.

If no one is present when you screw up royally did you really make a mistake?  

Take this morning for example, our appointed day to get out of Marina di Ragusa.  Winds were calm, sky was clear and all systems were checked and working.  Except for one.  At 0500 this morning I woke, or was awakened by my wife in a state best described as decephalized.  Or maybe hydrocephalized.  In place of my cranium was a soft aqueous unbrain.

This physical condition is common at MdR.  In the preceding three days we had spent each night in the marina bar with other cruisers, all of us intending to "leave on the morrow"; all of us realizing the morrow would just bring masses of cold air driving at Le Mans race speeds through the northern Med.  

Our caution or cowardice, call it what you will was debilitating.  It did no good that the boats which had so grandly left our safe harbour a month ago were largely still in their first port of call, they too hunkering down in 40 knot winds, give fifteen or take five.  We  realized we might be cowards and the debasement of being too afraid to get under way lead to some brain deadening beahviour.  Literally.  Our meetings were held in the marina bar.

No description of the event will follow except for the single highlight: me at the helm trying to back out of our slip and growing very concerned that the boat would not move in reverse.  I was checking transmission, worrying about prop fouling when the Budget Committee, my erstwhile companion called out.  She was on the bow; her responsibility was casting off the bow lines which held us to the dock. 

Hearing her call I could detect a hint of apprehension or so I thought.  Perhaps I should have listened closer.  "What?  I can't hear you" I called back to her.  A lifetime of cultivating the skill of not hearing your wife can have its disadvantages.

She turned to face me full on.  Never a good sign.  She stood on the bow of the boat, drew up the bitch wings and yelled, so the entire marina could hear "I SAID THE BOWLINE WAS STILL TIED ON"

My reply was brilliant and even louder.  "WELL THEN UNTIE IT.  THAT'S YOUR JOB!!!!"  ... Somedays I have to do all the thinking. 

My thoughts at that moment were "oh, damn.  Now I have really torn it".  You see no one  tangles with a female in full blown bitchwing.  

An aside: We sailors used to argue with other boaters
who would anchor too close in a tiny anchorage.  That all ended with the discovery of bitchwings.  When another boat looks ready to drop their hook beside you you just send your wife to the bow where she stands in full Bitchwing glowering at the opposition.  The intruding vessel soon moves off.  Even the French vessels.  

One thing I have noticed about bitch wings is that the arm control muscles are closely connected to the mouth muscles.  As the wings are drawn up the corners of the mouth are proportionately drawn down.  

Back to the blog: 

The BC's posture did not improve and her wings seemed to sharpen just a little.  But she wavered and returned to her work.  Thank Goodness. 

Matters grew worse when it turned out I had not fully untied one of the aft lines connecting us to the bottom of the ocean.  After that it is all a blur until miraculously we found ourselves in open water, Marina di Ragusa visible only with a full 180 degree turn of the head.

After that it was all boring.  Winds were kind and we fell into a following breeze of 16 knots and sailed downwind for seven hours.

About three miles south from Siracusa conditions grew interesting as the south wind we were in ran head on into the north wind blowing down the Adriatic.  Our northbound current and waves ran headlong into the southbound current and waves pushed by the southbound winds.

Things grew agitated and at one point our forward motion was down to 1.8 knots. 

Once in the shelter of Siracusa Bay all was calm and we had an easy night of it.

It was our wedding anniversay and we shared drinks that evening in the cockpit in peace and contentment.  Our talk tended to a review of how we had ended up where we were.  It was a good place to be.  Thirty two years ago at our wedding the performance in which we are now playing was not even on the playbill.  Like most sailors our plans change quickly.

How lucky for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment