'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

One of those days…


“Splits” on arrival in Cape May, NJ

Today would – in some ways at least – qualify as “one of those days”.

You know what I mean. One of those days when things just don’t work, things break, things get lost… One of THOSE days.
And since most of my blogs, Facebook posts and Farkwar updates focus on how totally awesome and amazing and really COOL cruising is, I thought it was time to give a little press to the parts that don’t go so smoothly. Like today.
Today we sailed from Cape May, NJ to Lewes (pronounced “Lewis”), DE. Including the Cape May canal (3 miles long) it was a total of only 15 miles as the crow flies, and perhaps 23 miles as we sailed it. Easy day, except…

Cape May Canal approaching the Delaware Bay

At 9:15am I start pulling up the anchor, and it doesn’t feel right. It’s coming up really hard, and it feels like there’s something sliding down each link of the chain – “bumpbumpbumpbump” – as I crank on the windlass.  

Finally I’ve got all but about 15 feet of chain aboard, which should be breaking the anchor loose from the bottom, but it’s still coming hard as I slowly wind it in. I’m looking down to see what’s happening, and suddenly there’s what looks like a steel I-beam coming to the surface. Wait a minute, that IS a steel I-beam on the surface. And steel I-beams don’t float. Which means… 

“Oh Shit!” 
This was the call heard ‘round the anchorage, let me assure you.
We and Sionna are now drifting downwind toward the other anchored boats, the closest of which is only 25 yards away, with a 30-foot section of 6” steel I-beam wrapped in our anchor chain and preceding us like a battering ram, and I have NO idea how to get it free – there’s just no way to reach it, and everything is too massive to even think about getting my fingers near it… 
Our chain has, over the last three days, somehow wrapped completely around the I-beam at almost the mid-point. Are we going to have to cut the whole thing loose – I-beam, anchor, chain and all – to save the boat?  

While all these observations and thoughts are running through my head, I’m signaling frantically to Nicki (who’s at the helm) to steer us away from the other boats, but I’m not even sure Sionna will respond with this mass of metal hanging off the bow. How can I get it unwrapped? How can I flip that 35-pound anchor over the top of the beam to free it without loosing a hand in the process? How long would it take me to cut it free?

And then, miracle of miracles, it’s gone.  
Slowly, oh so slowly, the beam begins to “spin” along it’s axis, its many-hundreds of pounds doing what I could never do by hand as the anchor comes up out of the water, over the beam, splashes back down and the beam is gone.
Yeah I know, no pictures again. When the most interesting stuff happens, you can never get to a camera, right? It was the same with the pods of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins last week, and now I’m being accused of telling fish stories. Except they ALL got away, which is a good thing.
Well anyway, that was the start to our day. After that the Cape May canal was a lazy cruise, and the sail across the Delaware Bay to Lewes was almost an anti-climax. Almost. Except when the reefing line came loose from the main boom and I had to go forward to the mast in 5-foot seas and 20 knot winds to re-tie it, getting drenched by (warm!) green water in the process and scaring poor Nicki out of her Nike’s because I had JUST unclipped my safety tether to move back to the cockpit when the sea came aboard and doused me. 
See, it’s not all sundowners and sunsets, after all. But here’s one more anyway.

Cape May Harbor, NJ

But you know what? We ended the day tucked into a safe anchorage, smiles on our faces and an awesome coconut-curry fish stew for dinner.  
Because even after one of “those” days, living on a boat and working our way slowly south and away from winter is still an amazing, thrilling adventure. We’re beginning to feel alive and connected to here and now. There are no political speeches, no lies on TV, no reality shows to simuate life…
There’s just life – for real.
What a blessing.

Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, and rehabilitating an old house. we’re headed back on the boat, bringing Sionna back home to northern waters. Follow our blog here!

2 thoughts on “One of those days…

  1. Wow! What a story! So glad it came undone by itself. What an adventure.


  2. Life is always interesting on a boat. And sometimes things just work out. One time we wrapped our dingy rode around our prop just as we were starting to anchor. The water here is very cold. Chagrined, we decided to just ‘bump’ the engine in reverse a couple of times. Came right off and huge lesson learned without harm. Good that beam decided to just go back to the bottom! Hey, maybe it heard the latest politics and decided it was more peaceful in the mud.


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