Morning off South Carolina. The pod is the place to be offshore. Coastally, it is ok as a nav station, chart storage, place to toss clothes when the sun comes out, and it is good shelter to hide behind in the cockpit when beating to weather until you figure out something better to do with your life. But offshore, it comes into its own.
We built ours as a minimalist statement unlike others who wanted higher, longer, wider, etc. I think it is perfect as it is even after all these miles and passages. Nev and I asked for something that would be low profile for windage, have a bunk for off watch, and let two discuss the charts out of the weather offshore, or one do a stint of single handing while not disturbing the other at rest but nearby.
Nev made sure the angles were right for leaning against on the outside and we always find somebody enjoying that lounge chair comfort in either sun or shade whether sailing or not.
But the most fun is when there are the two sleep bags in there, an extra quilt on top, down jackets from the night watch tossed in a corner, two pillows, foul weather gear, etc all rumpled up in a glorious heap so a tired person can make a lovely nest either round, square, or oval depending on personal preference. We just burrow into it and scoop some over the top like puppies and Zzzzzz. I can see Nev now and know he will be well rested soon. He goes in head first. When it is my turn, I like to go in feet first so I can see the instruments with one bleary eye open from time to time, then I relax deeply, knowing that everything is well. I see Nev's knees when he sits in the companionway seat we built and I know he is protecting me and our boat home so I sleep with confidence. We can see 360 degrees out the windows for watch keeping in stormy weather, and it is generally a safe feeling sort of place in those conditions. It does not pound in heavy seas, and we have had some of those, believe me.
I can agree with the changes others have made, but this is just right for us. The top is often used as a seat and Nev finds it easy to climb up there to furl the main sail. If it were taller, it would not work well that way nor be so easy to see over from the cockpit. As it is, all I need to do is improve my posture for a moment, let the boat dip a tiny bit with the next wave, and I have seen the horizon all around.
It is the first place little kids want to go so we let them goof around in that bunk with toys, and games. Most boat kids stay far, far away from nav instruments etc because they know all about it. Land kids just need to be told that our lives depend on that stuff being left undisturbed. They are so awe struck about us LIVING on a boat, they treat us with great kindness. And we respond by trying to "ruin their lives" and lure them into boats, the sea, and life afloat.
Afternoon. Well, the wind is gone elsewhere so we have folded our wings and both little egg beaters are doing their thing. 6 knots by Yamaha on the fuel efficent setting will see us into Fernandina through the St Mary's Inlet by noon tomorrow. We will sleep, walk on the beach behind Jeckylls Island, and have a whole day full to the brim of nothing at all.
We both had baths on deck today with sun baths after so our skin feels lovely. 20 minutes twice a day slowly develops the protective tan Nev's skin specialist recommends for his psoriasis and eczema. It is odd how exposure of some parts of his body seems to help other covered parts too. But when opportunity presents, he has a complete sun bath every time just for the joy of it. And he loves company, so I allow my pudges to brown too.
There is a long, low, following sea just lifting us along gently. A medium sized brown and yellow birdie hitched a ride near to Charleston this morning and flew away towards land after a rest of a couple of hours while we glided past. I guess of the many migrating birds, some get lost, or are ill, or just not up to speed and get separated from the flock. I was pleased that he flew twice around us before making straight away for land and we cheered him on his way. Our fifth bird aboard this trip. So far, all have lived.
Late evening. It is so nice having a mobile phone aboard. I first did the email using it with my pocketmailer off Charleston and again just at the Savannah harbor entrance. The phone does not always work, but often enough it does. And I would not be without this pocketmail gizmo. pocketmail.com gets you all the info.
Nov 7 - the wee hours. If I had smaller sails or a stronger body, I would stick with these soft wing sails because they really do work so very well. But I cannot recommend them for single handed sailors who are also weak of body in this large size. Perhaps it would be ok with better halyard winches though. Powerful self tailers for sure in that case. At the moment Nev is sleeping or else I would have the main sail raised so that leaves me feeling frustrated. That says a lot about my shoulder that never completely healed after the dislocation mid Atlantic on our maiden voyage. I dare not stress it again.
Later. I woke after sunrise to find that Nev had put up the main sail alone. Mr Physical Fitness at 67 years old puts me to shame. Together we raised the foremain and turned off and lifted both engines. We are on the last page of charts showing the entrance to St Mary's and will be approaching under full sail doing 5 knots in maybe 8 knots of wind. We turn into the wind then, fold our wings, and put all our thermals, mittens, stocking caps, etc away in the off season lockers. This last bit of sailing today is just perfect.
Remember the next PCA meet is the first week end in December. We expect quite a few boats and folks from far away. We meet on the ICW just south of the St Lucie Inlet and I am told several Wharram catamarans will be there.
All the best,
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2004