The longer we've cruise the more unabashed weather wimps we've become. It seems like every year we reduce the wave height and wind predictions that we consider acceptable. Hey, it's suppose to be fun!
We have learned to be perfectly content sitting at an anchorage or dock for days, even weeks, until the winds die and the waves subside, preferably to glassy calm. We're happier and the kids are definitely happier. It has worked very well for us.
So how did we end up in rough choppy seas in the Chesapeake on our final day of cruising? In fact, it was the worst day of weather we'd experienced in at least 2 years. Well, you start by forgetting everything you know, then you add a touch of impatience to get to your destination, and you finish by ignoring the signs around you.
We left Portsmouth after two great days on a picture perfect morning. The day stayed beautiful so we decided to go a couple of hours further than planned to shorten the next day, our final cruising day of the season. Going the extra distance left us only 30 nm to get to the dock were aCappella will spend the summer.
We were thrilled that we would have 2+ weeks there with good friends Robin and Jim, and Pat and Chuck. A 5:41 am email from Robin (she was awake, we weren't yet) let us know that boats were being shifted around to open up our spot. We awoke at 7 am to rain and some wind, so we decided to make blueberry pancakes and wait for things to clear.
When the sun came out mid-morning and the winds died down, we decided to go. First mistake, we didn't take a final look at the weather radar, predictions, or existing buoy reports.
We warmed the engines, prepared the pilothouse, and Jeff went on deck to pull the anchor. It started to rain again and the wind rose making it difficult to hear each other on our headsets. It did occur to me that maybe we should wait, even stay one more day at the anchorage, "but it's only 30 nm," I thought. Mistake number two, listen to your gut and heed the signs around you.
We started off in a moderate chop but were convinced we could see clearing up ahead. Now I must digress. Can someone please explain why it always looks like it's clearing up ahead and that the waves are subsiding when they rarely do? Or more importantly, why are we able to convince ourselves of this illusion time after time?
So we soldiered on. With each turn in our route we hoped the conditions would improve. 4' waves, then 6' waves, then a few 8 footers thrown in just to test how well we could avoid getting seasick. We hoped for relief in vain. The kids went from giving us dirty looks to circling up in a tight ball and ignoring us. This was the worst weather this canine crew had ever experienced (Tucker knew much worse weather but this team has only grown up in our newfound avoidance mode for weather). All waves vanished when we pulled off the Potomac and it was flat-dead-calm when we pulled onto the dock greeted by Robin and Jim who said, "We were surprised you guys left. It must have been bad out there."
Full disclosure, the wave pictured above was not taken by us but is symbolic of how rough it felt.