I write this surrounded by grazing cows.
We are in Durham, resting after a whirlwind week. Last Friday, we got up from our afternoon nap in the marina in Gaspé and checked the weather (the marine forecast is updated at 3pm.) GALE WARNING, a red band across the top of the page read. I started thinking about what to make for dinner.
“Look at this,” Chris said. He had pulled up the Windyty file, which shows wind direction and strength hour by hour. I looked. The gulf was a sea of dark green and orange arrows. Not good. He zoomed in on the Gaspé peninsula.
“If we leave at six tomorrow morning, and hug the coast, we can make it to Newport before the big gale really sets in.”
Sure enough, along the coast, things looked pretty calm… until Saturday at around supper time, when the whole gulf turned orange, then red. You don’t want to be out in red, believe me.
“Geez,” I said. I don’t like going out when the weather is clearly taking a turn for the worse. What if the forecasters are wrong by a few hours?? Chris scrolled ahead through the coming week.
“If we don’t leave tomorrow, we could be pinned down here for ten days.”
“But what about the car?” We had a rental car and our own car. The plan was to drop our car in Newport then return to the boat in the rental before we set sail.
“We need to move it, now.” He grabbed the two sets of car keys. “Come on, we’ve got to go.”
I hated the idea of driving through the mountains, negotiating hairpin curves in the dark, never mind the deer hazard. And worse, the moose. And there are many signs with skidding motorcycles on them. Do they come out at night, too?
But I could see that we had no choice. So off we went. I’m not saying I didn’t whimper a little as I followed Chris through the switchbacks at Percé. But by midnight we were back at the boat, safe and sound.
The next morning dawned clear and calm, as predicted. No wind. Yet. There was some residual swell from the east as we rounded the point and headed for Percé. (Well not directly for it, obviously, but in that direction.) We wallowed for a while, then the wind picked up a little and we were able to motorsail past the rock in the bright morning sunshine, strings of gannets passing so close we could see their orange masks. Funny looking birds. Every now and then the whole flock would wheel up in the air then start plunging down into the water, one by one, straight as arrows, making a splash that had to rise six feet in the air.
It was a wonderful way to end our summer season. And we were in Newport, tied to the pier, well before the gale set in.
Which it did. Getting the boat off the wall the next day and into the travel lift was no small feat. It took several tries. Finally, Chris secured a stern line, threw the boat into forward, and opened up the throttle, which caused the bow to swing out enough for us to clear the fishing boat tied in front of us. Just.
Then there was MonArk, in the travel lift, heading up a gravel hill towards the boat yard. Not a sight any sailor likes to see. Boats should be in the water, not up in the air.
But that’s where MonArk is for now, and that’s where the boat will stay until next spring, up on funny blocks—they have a unique way of blocking boats, but it seems to work—buffeted by the gales of September. And November. And so on.
Good night, MonArk.