Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Rockport MA, Gale Gone

The cold front passed through late last night and this morning. Winds were around 15 to 20 knots, gusting frequently to around 25, maybe a few 30 knotters in there. There were some short periods of heavy rain. Intermezzo's anchor held firm and seas in the anchorage were mild, just some gentle rocking.

Sandy Bay was a good choice as a place to sit out a southerly blow like this one. I'll credit my decision to stay here down to equal parts skill and luck.

I didn't sleep well last night. Not only was I was up every hour or two to check on the boat and anchor, I also lost some sleep to fear, a feeling I don't usually experience when sailing. Even in really tough sailing situations, if I feel any fear at all, it is the sort of fear that makes one attentive, alert, determined, not the nervous anxious fear I was feeling last night. Last night's fear wasn't strong, but it was persistent.

I reflected on what was a the root of my feeling afraid. I've zeroed in on three factors.

First, I had too much information. Text weather forecasts, weather apps, weather maps, wind models, VHF weather channels...lots of words, colors and sounds all warning me of a gale. I usually don't look at so many sources of information, either because they aren't available where I'm sailing or I'm satisfied the first couple of sources. Good internet connections can be a curse when it comes to information. Looking back, if all I knew was that the winds could blow as hard as 40 knots from a southerly direction for 24 hours, that would be enough.

Next, the anchor dragged the first time we tried to set it closer to shore. That hardly ever happens. Even though I carefully set and tested the anchor the second time, I was spooked by the experience of hearing and feeling the anchor bounce on the rocky bottom on the first attempt. To make matters worse, as a gust would blow, the initial sound of the wind in the rigging sounded similar to the anchor bouncing. It was a bit spooky until I figured that out.

Finally, I haven't sailed in these waters before, nor this time of year in this part of the country. I have visions the icy winter gales, the storms the Mayflower suffered, the sinking of the Titanic, Gloucester fisherman braving the wind and waves to catch cod. I've sailed too long in the tropics and on, the aptly named, Pacific Ocean too much. Weather conditions here are much more volatile, the tides stronger. And cold wind feels stronger to me than warm wind.

It was good to face my fear and understand that 90 percent of it was just my imagination. That is the worse type of fear in my mind. No basis in reality, serves no purpose. But part of being human.