We spent the night docked at St. Clements Island, arriving safely and tying up in almost total darkness. This 40-acre island is uninhabited in the winter and offers us the perfect place to stop on trips to the bay. We love having a safe place to tie up overnight and take Sylvie for a walk in the grass and on the beach, our own private island while the summer folks are back on land and tucked away in their warm and cozy riverside homes
This morning we woke to whitecaps on the river and frigid winds in our faces as we took Sylvie for one last long walk on the beach. We circled the island with a frolicking dog who was glad to be on land and although we confirmed that we had the entire island to ourselves, we encountered fresh footprints on the beach next to our boat. Early morning hunters, fishermen, or river pirates?
Getting underway, we traded the calm of the protected island for gusting wind, high waves and a small craft advisory. It’s funny how we end up sailing in small craft advisories about once a year in the same spot on the river.
Here’s a video from last year’s small craft advisory sailing trip. We were out for four days and stopped at a rustic marina on the spur of the moment to get out of the weather. Sorry, no videos of gale force winds and 10-ft waves. During the worst of it, we’re living life and having adventures with cell phones in our pockets.
A small craft advisory means no pots on the stove, trying not to fall over if you’re not sitting down, and a lot of cold concentration to keep the boat on a safe course. Two hours into our planned full day’s sail and I was calling marinas in the closest town, a seasonal riverside resort with B&Bs, seafood shacks and a free summertime trolley, either the perfect family vacation spot or a really good place to get out of the weather.
It was a happy accident that the second marina I called had a transient slip available. We spent another hour fighting waves and wind that were desperately trying to knock us around while Charles performed navigational heroics to keep us on course. As we neared land, the protected channel was wonderfully calm and we were soon tied up safely. Small beach town hospitality and the solidarity of fellow sailors got us full use of the marina’s golf cart, a map to the best restaurant in town, directions to groceries, and spotless hot shower facilities. This was the worst weather we’ve had since Sylvie’s been sailing with us, so despite the fun of the golf cart and the tastiest dinner of the season at the best restaurant in town, our little dog was probably happier to be in port than we were.
We woke to a cold and windy marine weather forecast however it was much kinder than the day before, and with 12 to 14 hours of sailing ahead we pushed off the dock before breakfast. While Charles steered us into the river, I put on the coffee and fogged up the windows cooking a pound of bacon. As we passed under one of our favorite bridge landmarks I was glad for calmer seas ahead on the long sail home.
It’s almost time for lunch and we have 8-10 hours left on the river. On this trip I’m thankful for lots of layers, hot coffee, and a captain who steers the boat on a straight course no matter what the weather is like.
“What she really loved was to hang over the edge and watch the bow of the ship slice through the waves. She loved it especially when the waves were high and the ship rose and fell, or when it was snowing and the flakes stung her face.” -Cashore