January 14, 2010

A really mellow New Years on the Alizé that gradually became the opposite of mellow.

So - it was a simple idea, ring in the new years while bobbing around on an anchor. The weather was wet and mild. It was cold but a dead calm - no wind. We had loads of great food and drink, we had a stack of Uno cards, good music, good friends - this was lining up to be a real easy going New Years celebration.

So, we put on the rain gear and crossed Puget Sound to my favorite little nook, the mooring balls on the South end of Port Madison - very quiet, very quaint - a sleepy little spot.
This was sort of the high water mark for the evening and for me. At this moment you will notice we have full electricity in the cabin. The dinner came together without a hitch. I still have a look of confidence in my face - that will soon disappear (as will the electricity).
Okay, at this moment I am realizing I have a fever from a cold that I had previously been in denial about. This is not interesting except - due to the head cold, i wasn't thinking straight and forgot to switch batteries to the deep cycle. So...we lost electricity and that means we would not be able to start the engine in the morning. So we would have to sail back to my slip under sail. No big deal, I have done it before, as long as the winds are agreeable - everything will be gravy.

Aside from that - morale is soaring.

Midnight came, and under lantern light we wrote down our new years resolutions and burned them in the fire. My resolution was to remember to switch my battery to the deep cycle.

And then we played Uno which everyone excelled at, except me.

Then the next day, things became harrowing. As we began our sail home, the quiet Puget Sound picked up from a dead calm to a freakish gale. I had to drop all sails and put up a reefed main to keep the Alizé from heeling over uncomfortably.

With only a reefed main I couldn't make progress sailing upwind, so I resigned to running downwind. This meant saying goodbye to Seattle. If I had the engine, which i normally do, none of this would have mattered because I can grind the diesel into the wind.

In an attempt to keep the boat from breaching in the 5-6 foot breaking surf, we continued to run downwind. My hat flew overboard. The boat began hydroplaning, thereby exceeding hull speed. Lisa became sea sick. I will admit that I really didn't have much of a plan at this point.

We continued to run downwind. Fortunately, there is a lot of water downwind. If we had to, we could have hydroplaned all the way to Canada. This would not have been pretty, but I took comfort knowing that it was an option on the table.

Ultimately we made an emergency sail into Edmonds Marina at hull speed and hoped for the best. Which is what we got. Nobody had any a priori knowledge of the layout of the marina, but we soared in and were relieved to find this large fishing boat with huge metal handrails all around its deck. I plowed in, turned the bow into the wind to kill the speed, then tipped it towards port so that the crew could grab onto the rails and lash lines around cleats so as to secure our vessel before the winds grabbed us again and spit us into the breakwater.

And that was it, our ride was over. I felt like Sandra Bullock in Speed. Freeny said he felt like Keanu Reeves in Speed, but I have always had a thing for Sandra Bullock, so that's where my mind went.

Incidentally, nobody was taking pictures for this part of the sailing trip. So, the only images we have are these, the aftermath shots once our vessel was strapped to the Edmonds Marina.