Is this a good idea?

We’ve weathered 50-knot winds before, just not tied to a dock. A gale in the North Atlantic is certainly a fearsome thing, but at least you have lots of room to ride it out. Here, not so much.

IMG_1260We are in the marina at Port Credit for the winter, sheltered from the prevailing west wind by an old terminal building, a wide sturdy dock beside us. Well, sturdy-ish. The docks here sometimes come unmoored, drifting away from shore, or worse, sink altogether during the course of the the winter. But so far ours has stayed attached and afloat, touch wood.

We were already tied six ways from Sunday when the wind started to rise but we decided to put another couple lines on, just in case. We had two lines at the bow and two at the stern to keep us secured to the dock, as well as a couple of spring lines to prevent the boat from “dancing” forward and back along the dock. I guess we’re tied eight ways from Sunday now.

But the boat still wasn’t happy. The winter cover we put on to keep snow from piling up on the deck adds so much windage. Boats weren’t meant to have a six-foot shed running from bow to stern. With each gust, the boat heeled hard against the dock, flattening the fenders until we were sure they would pop. When the gust eased off the boat would try to spring forward, then bounce backwards. I feel sure it was trying to break free. What am I doing here, let me go, I need room. And get this crazy cover off of me.

“These gusts are more than 50 knots,” Chris said as we gave the lines one last check.

“I think you’re right.”

When we went below deck, I knew he was right. We weren’t, of course, stowed for sea. The dog was sitting at the bottom of the companionway, looking anxious. I didn’t do it. Really I didn’t.

The table had tipped over and my computer and a pile of books and the newspaper and worst of all a vase of flowers had pitched onto the leather settee. All of the cupboards in the galley had flung open and their contents were strewn around the cabin, a box of tea, a bottle of olive oil (plastic, fortunately), half a loaf of bread. The teapot, which I had left on the counter, was rolling around the floor, seemingly none the worse for havng taken a tumble. I found my favourite mug later, under the nav station, chipped but still useable, I think.

It’s a strange life, this, living on a boat in Canada during the winter. As I write this, the oil lamp swings madly above my head. I keep an eye on the flowers, slide them back to the middle of the table every now and then. The dog is curled up on the settee beside me, she looks at me. Is this a good idea??

I wonder myself, sometimes.

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