“Do you see the waves crashing over that rock dead ahead?” my dad said loud enough for me to hear over the 25-knot winds and 7-foot waves crashing over our bow.
“Yes, got it,” I said. “We’re good on this heading. We can round that red can up about a quarter mile ahead.”
“It’s at one O’clock,” he said. “I’ve got eyes on it.”
That’s where Your Survival Guy and his dad were on Sunday delivering the boat from Mattapoisett back to Newport. There was a small craft advisory that felt like it could have been for large craft.
Our trip started out in calm waters, like many do, as we motored out of the harbor. But as soon as we passed Nye’s Ledge, cruising at 30 mph making our turn west into the wind to Newport, the chop turned into slop, and we had to throttle back, beginning a long slog of fighting the weather to get to our marks.
At one point, we were just fighting the waves so hard. We were taking a pounding with boom, boom, boom, each one with a bang as if the boat was coming apart. I contemplated heading into a safe harbor, but this was a mix of stuff we could handle and the dreaded “schedule” of the boat’s getting hauled tomorrow. I needed (a terrible word) to get the boat back.
To settle us down, I decided to make a hard right, to have a following sea for a bit, and hug the coast to thread the needle with some skinny water. Rocks surrounded by whitewash and crashing waves looked like spouting whales. I was good though. My chart plotter was my eyes, showing me what lurked beneath the surface.
“Nice, much better water here,” my dad said as we throttled back up, making some headway.
But—there’s always a but in these stories isn’t there? —we needed to head back up and spend some time fighting some heavy seas. Not a big deal. It’s like when you’re hiking a tough section and know there’s a great view once you get through it. And that’s when the electronics turned off. As if all of a sudden, you’re blindfolded and asked to keep walking with a pat on the back. Good luck. You’re on your own.
Every storm is different. They’re never the same. But they all take what feels like forever. After 30 minutes of more pounding, we were able to round our mark working as a team, change course and cruise the final leg at a reasonable speed to round Castle Hill and taxi into Newport.
Action Line: Lunch at the Clarke Cooke House never tasted so good.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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