UPDATE: we are now safely anchored in Fernandina Beach, where we’ll stay a few nights until the ocean calms down and we can be on our way. It’s freezing here! We never thought we’d be wearing layers of winter clothes in Florida!
It’s 4am, and we’re about 20 miles off the coast of Jekyll Island, GA, eight hours away from our destination of Fernandina Beach, FL. Let me just come right out and say it…. This overnight has been absolutely horrible.
What started off as a nice calm day, has turned into a tumultuous night with winds howling from the west and an angry, confused sea having its way with our boat. We’re being bounced around in the dark like a toy in the bathtub. It’s crazy. By far one of the worst experiences offshore, I’ve ever had (I haven’t really had too many offshore experiences, but if I had to rank the few, this would definitely be up there as THE WORST). We’re getting pummeled with 5-6ft choppy waves that are hitting us from all directions, making the boat groan and creak and thunder from inside. Its bad enough that we both strapped on our offshore life jackets, which is the first time I’ve ever done so and maybe the second for Matt.
We’ve had a few waves hit right on our stern and wash a big spray of cold salty sea water into our cockpit. The entire boat is disheveled from things falling over. Things I’ve never, ever, seen fall over, like our heavy knife block. That’s fallen over twice tonight. As have countless other items from the galley. I don’t even know what the hulls look like. I’m afraid to go check. There’s nothing quite like being woken up halfway thru your “off” shift by an entire container of metal and wooden serving utensils crashing down all over the floor. This is probably a common thing for monohullers, but definitely not the norm in a catamaran.
I really wish I had a night vision camera so I can capture how violently were swaying and share the deafening sound of waves beating the hull and the wood interior groaning against the strain. It’s enough to make you think that she’s just going to rip in two from the stress of it all. Had we not spent the past year and a half living on her, and rebuilding nearly half of her with our own hands, I may be seriously be doubting her seaworthiness right now. However I don’t at all. I know she’s steady and well built, it’s just an uncomfortable ride tonight, that’s all. I’ve heard people say that your spirit will break before the boat does, and boy that’s the truth! The pitch black of the night and not being able to see what we;re up against only intensifies the experience.
I wonder how different this would feel in a monohull versus our catamaran? Miserable still, I’m sure, but a monohull wouldn’t have the horrible deck slap noise that we get when a wave slaps us between our hulls. I bet it may slice throughout the waves a little less clumsily, but I’m sure that it would be waving wildly back and forth too, which to me would be the worst. Matt and I ran into similar weather off the coast of Cape Hatteras when we did our offshore trip back in June, in a monohull. I remember how it surfed the waves, turning itself sideways as we went down, and violently listing side to side just before it righted itself and prepared for the next wave. I guess it’s pretty miserable either way you look at it.
I tell you this not to scare you (parents, we’re OK! We can handle it!), but only to highlight what I describe as the extremely high highs and the extremely low lows of this lifestyle. Yesterday we were tucked away in a calm anchorage, eating fresh shrimp and oysters and enjoying an absolutely beautiful sunset. Today were in the Atlantic, riding out a cold front that’s turning up the ocean and tossing us around like a rubber ducky. It’s not always margaritas and white sandy beaches, that’s for sure!