Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Calls in the Night, plus Chocolate Cake

March 17 - 23

The "storm" predictions broadcast as Securitee Warnings were caused by two systems converging. One coming up from the Tasman Sea (a high heading northwest) and another from the Pacific Ocean (a low heading Southeast). We would be in the squash zone. The winds predicted were up to 60 knots (a level 1 hurricane begins at 62 knots.) Again there was the calm before the wind. The day before the storm hit, the water around the boat was like glass, the air was too still and the moisture high. It felt muggy. All day as the radio warned. Owen and Griffyn watched the barometer fall. We cleared the cockpit, stowed things, brought our garbage to shore, and bought fresh food. The big drops fell steadily now. I wish we could put up the rain catcher!

We all took Meclazine (sea-sickness medicine) before bed. We called S/V Puddy Tat, S/V Kudana (and other friends) to let them know that we would have the VHF radio on all night. We wished them a safe night and would check-in in the morning. Around 11PM, we found a puddle on the navigation desk. Owen swore and I threw him a towel. Everything seemed to be wet. We quickly moved log books, tools, external drives, papers off the nav station. During all the repairs it had become a pile of miscellaneous parts and tools (in addition to the home for our main navigation computer.) I grabbed a bowl and we put it under the steady drip coming from the grab rail above the desk. (Over the next 36 hours we would collect more than 8 ounces of water from this leak.) The winds picked up around midnight. Owen turned on the wind speed indicator. It was blowing 20 plus knots. I went to bed alongside Griffyn in the V-berth. Owen would be on the settee until the storm passed. I don't know what time it was when I woke up with a stomach ache. The boat was whirling, the waves were huge - seconds of zero G. Madrona was pulled away from the anchor one direction, healing deeply then swung around and pulled the other direction again healing deeply. It's hard to sleep when your bed feels like a carnival ride without seat belts. I'm always glad to sleep with another body - a warm buffer from the cold damp walls of the V-berth. The winds howled loudly, the halliards swatted the mast. I felt anxious, sweaty and a little scared. I looked out at Owen. He was prone on the settee. 

I couldn't tell if he was awake or asleep. He had set two anchor alarms and a watch alarm to go off every 15 minutes all night so he could check our position, the wind speed, listen for problems and look at our neighbors. I didn't want to wake him. I got up and took 1/2 a tablet of Stugeron (stronger sea-sickness medicine). The rain was pounding. I looked around for drops (leaks). The bowl on the nav station was half full. I emptied it, adjusted it and stumbled back to bed. Thank God for narrow walk ways and lots of hand holds (a mast, rails along the ceiling and above lockers.) 

I rolled around for an hour falling in and out of sleep. I was awoken by a woman's voice on the radio. She called, "Attention Fleet, this is Georgia J, we've broken our anchor. We are drifting. We are disoriented and don't know where we are." Then there was radio silence. She sounded less panicked than I thought I would be in her situation. I wondered where her boat was. Was it anywhere near ours? I looked up at the port lights, it was a very black night. About 1/2 an hour later she called, "Our head sail is half out, it's jammed and we've run out of ideas on how to bring it in. Can anyone give us suggestions?" I drifted off. Owen told me later that another boat had gone to their rescue.

Around dawn I woke to hear David on Puddy Tat calling Kudana. He asked, "How do I reach the authorities? Philip V is 20 feet away. No one is aboard." Then I heard, "Zulu Lima Mike, Zulu Lima Mike." I fell back asleep.  Puddy Tat, a 42 foot cat had deployed two anchors the night before. They put out a "Bahamian mooring" - which uses two anchors - an pretty secure anchoring system designed to keep a boat from dragging in any position. Some time near dawn, the 80 foot fishing trawler "Phillip V", which had been moored near us, dragged 1/2 a mile through the anchorage. David and Sylvie (Puddy Tat) had to get out in the maelstrom and lift the bahamian mooring, move their vessel and set the anchors again. The owner of Philip V had been reached. He drove the trawler to the fuel dock. It must have cruised past our boat on it's way to Puddy Tat. We never heard if other boats were damaged (Postscript - it did hit at least one other boat).

The next day it poured all day, the gusts hitting 30 knots. Owen told me the highest winds he saw the night before were steady upper 40s. Gusts were in the 50's.  If there were gusts up to 60's I think more boats would have dragged. The securitee warnings predict for an area, since we are in a bay with foothills surrounding us (near the ocean), the warnings for our area include the coast line. The winds probably were in the 60 knot range near the unprotected waters along the coast. 

Our beds felt very damp that morning. There was new leak in the V-berth which dripped the whole width of the mattress (along the grab rail). We cancelled school today and put out more towels. We were cold. I decided to bake to warm us up. I made bread, cinnamon rolls and cookies. The baking took all day. Having the oven on all day did heat the boat, but it also caused water to condense out of the air onto colder surfaces. The bronze port lights dripped steadily throughout the day - all over the boat. The cabin house walls in the v-berth also dripped onto two corners of the mattress. We didn't find these spots until bedtime for Griffyn - they were soaked and there wasn't much we could do about it. It was still raining. When I decided I couldn't stand the sheets that came with the boat (and got rid of them), I also got rid of the mattress cover. We have been using a fleece blanket as a mattress cover below the sheets since then. That fleece against the wet mattress has helped keep our sheets drier than a standard mattress cover would. Fleece is both good and bad on a boat. If it is exposed to air or body warmth regularly it stays pretty fresh and dry-ish. If you stow it away and it gets the slightest bit damp from moist air - it sours badly - worse than cotton (Postscript - we have fixed those new leaks - and things stayed very dry in heavy rain subsequently - Amen).

When you don't have eggs or butter you can eat chocolate cake. (We have requests for this recipe every time we share it.)

Craving Chocolate Cake (originally from S/V Jack Nesbitt, made more chocolaty by me)

Sift together in a large bowl:
1/4 c Cocoa
1 1/2 c Flour less 1 Tbsp.
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

1 c Sugar

Mix well. In a small bowl mix together:

5 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Vinegar
1 c Water, cold

Pour liquids into solids and beat just until glossy (not too much). Bake 35 min. at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Makes one layer of a round cake. Double recipe for two layers and bake 45 min. 

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