Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Rhythm of Life

The rhythm of life off the dock is different than it is on shore. It is, most importantly, much slower. And, unlike ashore where man-made urgencies and deadlines control everything, it is simpler, interwoven inextricably with the rhythms of the Earth: tide and weather.

This last holiday weekend, after so long on the dock, we got a refresher course.

Barring the need to rise early in order to make a long passage with the tide, or to beat a weather front (not usually a good plan...), this is how a typical day away from the dock goes for us:


(In practice, this seems to be 06:30 - 07:30) Rise. Check the water depth, and the positions of the other boats in the anchorage. Turn off the anchor light. Check the temperature in the freezer (since reworking the temperature setpoints in the refrigerator last fall, the refrigerator is no longer on the critical path for refrigeration - only the freezer). If the charge state of battery bank #2 can handle it, and if it is needed, turn on the refrigeration. Enjoy the absolute peace. I like being awake before everyone else.

Whenever + 15-30 minutes:

Turn on the inverter and make two lattes. The sound of the espresso maker serves as Jane's alarm clock. If it is nice, move to the cockpit and enjoy the lattes while watching the birds in the quiet harbor.

+ another 20-30 minutes:

Make another pair of lattes. While working on these, listen to the NOAA weather on the VHF, get a gander at the tide book, and talk about where we will go today. We usually have a Grand Plan (like "Go to the San Juans", or "Go to Poulsbo") but these are purposely vague. Consider tidal currents, wind, impending weather, etc... and make a destination decision. This could be a confirmation of an earlier decision, a confirmation of the Grand Plan, or something entirely different.

Until time to go:

Monitor electrical state of the batteries. If the departure (and the engine-driven battery charge while we hoist anchor and drive out of the harbor) is a long way off, it may be necessary to run the generator, but we try not to do this until say 09:00, when everyone is pretty much awake in the anchorage, so everyone can enjoy the morning peace. Cook/eat. Read. Talk. Play guitar. If crabbing season is open: crab.


Tide, weather and all other things being equal, we try to get to our next anchorage before 16:00. That way, we are not rushed in the evening. Hoist anchor, drive out of the anchorage, and hoist sail (if there is wind).

Under Way:

We love the peacefulness of being under sail. Other than the sound of the wind and the water as the boat makes its way, it is silent. Occasionally (like last weekend), we are joined by a dolphin or a porpoise for a while, or sight some Orcas, or even a grey whale, and feel privileged and in awe. I have lots of pictures taken under way of the ever-changing canvas of sea and sky.


Drop sails. Drive into the anchorage, survey, choose a spot, and drop anchor. Shut down the engine. Drink a ceremonial Anchorage Beer, and watch the next boats coming in to anchor. Cook/eat. Read. Talk. Play guitar. But now add: drink wine, wine cruise, or visit other boats if we see someone we know. If there is a town, there will probably be a dinghy trip to shore. If crabbing season is open: crab.


Check water depth, and the positions of the other boats in the anchorage. Turn on the anchor light. Check the temperature in the freezer, and give it another shot of runtime if necessary.


Lather, rinse, repeat.

It usually takes 2 or 3 days to get me slowed down to the pace of the Earth. Until I get there, I am anxious and somehow unsatisfied.

But when I finally synchronize, there is an amazing peace.

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