Friday, July 20, 2007

Plan B (and Plan C, and Plan D)

Humans possess an incredible capacity for denial in opposition to contrary evidence. Such stubbornness has led to many a tragedy for captains at sea. Geert does not possess such stubbornness.

We departed Norfolk Harbor Saturday morning, May 5th, with the best case scenario that we might, just might reach Galesville, MD by morning if we sailed non-stop through the night and the weather forecast held. Galesville would mean home for Geert and the end of a six-month voyage chronicled here so well by Geert and his crew. He was anxious and excited.

As we turned north out of Hampton Roads rounding the Thimble Shoals Light, the wind was perfect – dead out of the East at ten putting us on a beam reach. The GPS indicated ETA Galesville 20 hours. Geert beamed. But with the same smile on his face, he looked at me and said, “You know forecasts seldom follow their best predictions.” Accordingly, he described his plots for alternate routes to Solomon’s, St. Mary’s, and Deltaville, VA. Both Solomon’s and St. Mary’s would be fine, as they would mean easy drives home for Michael and I who both needed to leave the Sea Scout no later than Sunday. Deltaville, VA? Quite the opposite – how would we get home from there?

Hearing his words, the wind soon turned gradually from the south, still fine, but it was fading. Now we must motor. And now too NOAA’s computer voice changed its tune. Winds would turn from the North and intensify rapidly. We could expect 20 knots on the nose by nightfall with gusts to 30 and 40. The coastal forecast was even more dire – 20 to 30 foot waves in the gulf stream as a low quickly intensified off the Outer Banks. We all agreed that Deltaville it would be.

So we turned west. We slogged through a cold north wind and intermittent showers and tied up at Deltaville by 5:00pm. Geert’s smile and ever-present optimism never faded. We enjoyed happy hour in our warm cabin with a Belgium couple also put in at Deltaville and followed with a left-over dinner feast. Geert generously read aloud (in English) one of his short stories published in Holland and the voyage was ended for Michael and me. Geert will stay on for a few days until the weather breaks, then he too can dot the “i” in his trip. Godspeed.