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Sailing Away

For me, August in Florida is the most unpleasant place on the planet.  After a mere half hour I feel like a soaked towel that's been thumped  over and over in a clothes dryer set on high.  I feel hot, wet and limp.

 We were off to close on on a second-or third- hand sailboat. "What heat?" my husband and I said. "Not a problem!"  It felt like Christmas when I was eight.  We were dying to unwrap our boat and sail off into the sunset.

 

                                    Florida Bay


To our innocent eyes the boat was flawless. No matter that she (for unknown reasons boats are called she's) was a quarter century old with her original rigging, well worn by the salty sea. No matter that there was an eye watering stench of diesel fuel below. The 11’6” beam made her very spacious.  This boat could a year's worth of gear and provisions and still have plenty of room to move about.  The headroom was adequate too. . . for me. My spouse is taller. He hit his head no less than twenty times a day, every day,  on the companionway header. For you landlubbers, (of which I’m now one living in landlocked Colorado,) the beam is the width and headroom means height. The companionway is the stairway opening to the cabin below.  I suggested we hang a red ribbon to remind him to duck.    “No, no. I’ll learn. I’m trainable.” Whack!  The entire boat  would vibrate with the impact. The hull was made of fiberglass thick enough to withstand the Titanic’s iceberg. These repeated collisions were mere fly bites to the boat, but I think my husband may still have a forehead lump.

Totally in love with our new boat we signed the papers and paid our money.  We celebrated with champagne, the proud owners of a 37 ft Irwin headed for adventure. This was my second sailboat, my husband's first. As a pilot he knew wind so he was the Captain. But with my sailing experience I was the Admiral.

They say, (who are they, anyway?) it's bad luck to change the name of a boat ,so we kept the  name Amazing Grace. The real reason we didn't change it was because the sellers had included a large  number of white yachty looking collared tee-shirts with Amazing Grace embroidered in green over the breast pocket. Cool. Couldn't change the name it would screw up the shirts. 

This heavy, wide cutter-rigged boat cut a mean path through the water on a beam reach. Meaning the single masted vessel had a mainsail and  two forward sails to  propel us through the water amazingly well when she was  90 degrees to the wind.  She simply hated going straight ahead, she wallowed  like a tin tub. This inability to sail close to the wind meant a lot of tacking. We'd coax her to sail  where we wanted to go,  because she clearly didn't want to.

 Given that no sailboat can go straight into the wind unless under auxillary power, we expected to tack. We didn't expect to do right angle turns.  Other boats can sail really well with the wind on the nose. I think our boat preferred it blowing in her ear. 

Grace, aka Graceless,  would not go forward unless we chose a)  to go in another other direction, either right angles to somewhere or downwind to a different port. Or we could  b) turn on the engine and go straight into the wind, sails down. Our dream was to sail east to the Bahamas to walk on empty beaches and drink piña-coladas.  

So, which direction did the wind come from every blessed day? East, right on our noses.  Oh, screw it, just start the engine, honey!  We're Bahama bound!

       
                               Bimini, Bahamas 
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