I technically woke up on time, but then hit snooze.
I hadn’t seen Christopher in forever and we had been trying to make plans to sail, but the forecast was sketchy. The weather has been unstable in general, going back and forth between unseasonably cool and unseasonably warm with an unseasonable tropical depression strolling through the US South. We’d been watching the weather in preparation, and some days it looked good and some days it didn’t, which never inspires confidence. We waited until Friday to make a call, hoping that the 24-hour forecast was going to be the closest thing that we would have to a reasonable guess. It was supposed to be stupidly windy in the early morning and stormy in the evening, but it seemed like we had a window in the middle, so we agreed to give it a go. I didn’t want to have to hit snooze on these plans.
Is snooze even still a thing? Maybe no one has an alarm clock anymore. I assume that people use their telephones, or the devices that they have purchased to bug their own homes on the behalf of large tech companies, or they just live super clean and pure lives and naturally wake up at dawn to do some kind of mystical stretching exercises, and I don’t know if any of these have snooze functionality. I still have a clock radio, with a control panel that is dominated by an enormous snooze button, sized so that any bleary-eyed half-asleep slap will snooze it. This probably makes me sound 134 years old, but it’s not like I’m simply holding on to my younger days: I also operate a wind-powered vehicle, own a collection of spokeshaves, and most of my outerwear was designed for the Klondike Gold Rush. Sometimes I feel like I was born for a different time. Sometimes I feel like I was just born to be awake at a different time than everyone else. Hence my reliance on snooze.
I really wanted to make the aphorism “You snooze; you lose” past tense while retaining the rhyme, but I couldn’t figure out of if it should be “I snoozed and loozed” or “I snost and lost,” so I will note only that we were late picking up Christopher by exactly one snooze cycle.
I’m still not used to the new drive to the shore. On this route, we pass a diner that I used to frequent when I was much younger, and each time we’ve gone by I’ve noticed that their parking lot is completely full, which makes no sense. Again, there were people lined up outside, waiting to get in, presumably to eat food in there? This was a truly terrible diner. My friends and I only went there because it was open 24 hours and we could sit there until 3am and only have to spend $1.15 on a bottomless coffee. It was there that I learned that if a diner waitress says “Yous don’t want the soup,” you REALLY don’t want the soup. In the case of that diner, you never wanted the soup. I can’t believe people go there now. It’s possible that it’s gotten better, but it seems far-fetched. It would be like finding out your local Applebee’s got a Michelin star. A very small part of me wants to try it, but I assume that the night manager is still there, looking the same age that he was the day the vampire bit him, and that he will pester me about my order in an unironic Tommy Wiseau accent, which gives me significant anxiety.
Anyway, we sailed.
We had reefed down at the dock, partially because it seemed a little gusty in the marina and partially in reaction to our previous sail. The wind was from the west, which is somewhat unusual, especially given that it was warm and sunny, which typically generates a sea breeze. Although we could have sailed the creek, I didn’t want to try an awkward downwind hoist of the main, so we motored well into the bay and turned around to raise the sail…although it was not quite far enough for Jenn. She took the helm while I dealt with the main, and was unhappy to be pointed directly at land, but we were only on that heading for a minute or two and quickly fell off onto a close reach toward the north once the sail was up. We sailed toward Governor’s for a bit, deployed the jib, and then came close hauled to stay well clear of the shallows.
I was glad that we had the reef in, at least for that portion of the day. The wind was turbulent and irregular, with lots of gusts and lulls and changes in direction. I gave Jenn the helm as we neared Ocean Gate, and she started making little noises in reaction to the puffs and assumed some sort of half-kneeling posture (even though she was doing fine) so we turned off the wind to calm things down and headed toward Memorial Marker 39.
There were some osprey at home in their nest, and I spoke to them in their silly, unbefitting chirps. We turned at the mark and attempted to sail toward Martell’s, but the wind shifted 90° and it was tough to do anything particularly intentional, so we just tacked around and sailed toward open water.
With a predominantly west wind, we could almost sail the length of the bay on one tack, although we had to make a lot of adjustments to account for its shiftiness. It also slowed down a lot while we were sailing south, occasionally dropping down to almost nothing. Christopher and Jenn chatted while I mostly attempted to fend off a big Beneteau that trailed us all the way to Tices. I think they probably passed us, but I at least made them work for it. It was hard to tell because they were doing more course correction in response to the fickle wind while I was doing more trim correction to hold my course, so we were pretty far apart by the time they jibed around and headed back. Maybe they weren’t even trying, although they did shake out their reef.
There were relatively few boats out, as has been the case all year. I’m not sure what to make of that. My understanding is that boat sales went crazy last year as people scrambled for something to do more than 6ft away from everyone else. I don’t know if it didn’t stick or if there’s a backlog of land-based things to do now that most people are vaccinated (at least in the non-Mississippi-style states) but I’m not complaining.
At some point, I said, “I don’t like the look of those clouds.”
The sky to the west had gotten pretty thick. Jenn and I both checked the radar from our telephones, and although there was definitely rain around, it looked like it would mostly pass to the north. I decided to casually sail back toward the creek, just in case we had to duck in. By that point the wind was light and we were still reefed down, so it was a slow go, but I wasn’t anxious to lose the reef in case storms popped up ahead of the front, nor was I so concerned that I thought we needed to motor hard toward port. As we approached the Cedar Creek, it was almost entirely overcast though, and looking a little stormy, so I decided to call it.
The rain started almost as soon as we got into the marked channel of the creek. The jib was already furled and we quickly got the main down and covered, which was a little more intense than it needed to be as power boats buzzed by, trying to beat the rain and kicking up large wakes in the marked “no-wake” zone. The rain intensified dramatically as we approached the marina. Jenn went below briefly, but mostly only to stow things and get out the boat hooks and stuff to prepare for docking. I told Christopher that he could go down there too, but he stayed in the cockpit. We mostly scrunched up our faces and complained about how the wind-driven rain was kind of painful and how cold it was now that our clothes were soaked. It was raining so hard that Jenn asked if it was hail. It wasn’t, but it was fairly obnoxious rain.
I don’t remember it looking exactly like that—I think Jenn’s telephone may have been in some kind of “Make this look like a Polaroid from 1972” mode—but perhaps it captured the vibe. I thought that I might have to dock at speed to maintain control against the swirling wind, but things calmed down just as we entered the marina.
We docked easily, and the rain stopped long enough that we could get the reef out of the main and flake it properly. I may have been one snooze cycle late picking up Christopher, and the trip may have been cut a little short by inclement weather, but I’m glad I didn’t hit snooze on the day entirely. I haven’t been particularly motivated to sail this year, which I can’t quite figure out, so having some good experiences will hopefully help get me back into the swing. It was great to see Christopher, and to be able to hang out in general without surgical attire, and I’m fine with a little stinging rain every now and then as a visceral reminder that I’m out there living it. As Tennyson said, ’tis better to have snost and lost than never to have snost at all. Or something like that.