|Watching the storm roll in (from the left side of the picture).|
The one thing we couldn’t control was the weather. In the southeast US during the early summer, we are talking about pop-up thunderstorms. We probably hit every pop-up thunderstorm in our vicinity as we passed from Marathon to Beaufort. Our scariest thunderstorm was not offshore as I would have thought, but on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). We were heading up through a section of the ICW that was probably about a hundred foot wide and lined on both sides with 50-100 foot docks poking into the channel. We had been watching a storm approach off in the distance, preparing for the worst by closing all the hatches and portholes and securing everything down below. It was a good thing that we did all the preparation, because it hit hard. The wind was just off our port bow, pushing Layla toward the docks on the starboard side. In the heavy downpour, we had about fifteen feet of visibility and could barely see the bow. And in the most severe winds, our wind instrument showed gusts up to thirty five mph, healing Layla by about five degrees without any sails up! Bud managed to keep us making headway, pointing Layla slightly to port to compensate for the wind as I updated us on our position relative to the docks on the port side. Right in the middle of the storm, we watched in disbelief as a trawler behind us came up and passed us on our starboard with no room to spare. We guess that they wanted to get to ‘somewhere’ first. Forty five minutes later, the sun came out and the wind disappeared as if none of this actually happened at all. The only evidence of the downpour was seen about a half hour later, as we approached a group of manatees mounded together on the edge of the ICW. We conjectured they were drinking fresh water runoff.
|Bud at the wheel ready to navigate through the oncoming storm.|