The north wind blew all night and it blew even harder when we woke the next day. Selkie was getting rocked all around in the chop that was building in the quarter mile fetch between us and the shoreline, and as we ate our breakfast we both wondered if we would be able to make it into shore through the 25 knot gusts and the big waves. We’d rowed through worse before, but not by much and never for such a great distance. If Wylie weren’t with us it would have been a no brainer, we would bundle up with a good book and spend all day down below and never even consider rowing to shore.
But the dog has needs, so we finished our pancakes, and as it seemed that the wind was strengthening, we made haste to get ready for a day on shore. We made our way to the foredeck through the howling wind and hooked Bojangles up to the lifting system, and we fought to keep our feet and stay on board as we lifted and lowered the little tender off the rolling sailboat and into the raucous sea. We all piled in quickly, harness on the dog and raingear on ourselves, and we shoved off in haste to get clear of the pounding hull.
It is these first few strokes of the oar that are most fearsome. We’ve already begun to drift backward and so must overcome the vicious wind as well as our backward momentum. These strokes bring fear for if the force of wind and wave are greater than what we can apply to the oars, then away we should drift, southward into the sea. And when there is no mass of land but rather a white-capped horizon to leeward, it is a moment fraught with discomfort.
This particular day we overcame the wind and slowly made our way to the shore and calm lagoon that would be our refuge for the day. We were soaked from the waves slamming into our bow, but we were greeted with calm slick water behind the tall mangroves. Wylie got to run to his heart’s content along the beach, and we spent the day exploring mangrove rooms that were full of birds like few places I have ever seen on this earth. We saw things we would not have seen. We experienced great shows of birds curled up like we should have been and congregated like they never are in decent weather.
Thank you Wylie. Thank you for your small bladder.
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