Red sky in morning, sailors warning

Yesterday I happily posted photos and gloated about the amazing morning view. Even my neighbor, who’s been living aboard and sailing for years, was out of his boat going ga-ga over the painterly display. It was too beautiful not to share, and based on the comments, I know it made people jealous. So, to help you get over the jealousy, I wanted to share the rest of the day with you 😀 Trust me, you won’t be envious.

I took a morning photo on my iPhone and sent it to my parents. Somewhere in the back of my father’s mind, a bell chimed. He Googled, and reported to my mom an old sailor’s adage, which she shared with me. I Googled it. Here it is: “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors warning.”

Red sky in the morning means that dust particles have been stirred up, and there’s a lot of moisture in the air (rain) building up in the atmosphere, coming in for the apocalypse. So, after educating myself and looking outside to see choppy waves, I decided to prepare for the end of times.

Riley donning his vest. This photo was taken on August 4, but I wanted to give y'all the visual.

I went to the bow of the boat, pulled up the sentinel, and untangled it from the anchor rode, then dropped it back down after letting out more rode. Then, Riley–donning his highlighter green PFD–and I, piled into the dinghy and headed to shore. The wind was blowing from the south, and since our port is to the south, we rode the waves in with little problems. Once on land, I took Riley out for a nice walk, played with him, took him around downtown to get his ya-yas out for the night, then went to the grocery store to prepare for the storm.

I loaded up. This time I was going to be ready.

Back at the port, the wind was howling. I piled bags of food into my dinghy, strapped Riley into his vest, got my outboard started, and made my way to Libby.

If I wasn’t carrying piles of food, the journey to the boat may have been a blast. As it was, loaded with groceries and a dog who, if not monitored, loves to sit with half his body out of the boat, the ride to Libby was only slightly fun. The waves were large. How large I cannot say for sure, but would guess about 3-4 feet–there was no point in trying to avoid them or stay dry. Salt water sprayed everywhere, my eyes, my clothes, my freshly washed hair and skin. Riley wisely, and with his mother’s approval, huddled between my legs. It was a rock-n-rollin adventure to our home, which was also riding the waves like a teenage surfer. Usually Riley is the first to get into the boat, but not this time. He was a good boy and stayed low as I tossed our load in, then he was hoisted up by his handle and safely deposited into the cockpit.

We were both wet, as were the groceries. Thankfully the storm front was a warm one, so we were not cold. Once I got everything into the cabin and spaced out to dry, I started strapping things down. I pulled a spinnaker halyard away from the mast with a bunji cord, took down some of my line bags (so handy to keep the cockpit clean) off the stanchions, as they knock on the blocks and make a horribly annoying noise, let out more line for my dinghy, then headed in.

Dinner was sweet and sour chicken with rice. Yummy. Not wanting to drain our freshly charged batteries, and knowing sleep would be elusive, Riley and I went to bed early. I dropped the dinnete table down, moved my settees, and went to bed in my main cabin, not the v-berth.

I heard loud bumping every time a wave came up. Bump, BUMP, bump. At first I thought it was my transom ladder. I removed three of my five slats from the companionway and went into my cockpit. After hanging over the edge of the transom, I managed to pull the ladder up and secure it. Then I went back inside the cabin, replaced the three slats, snapped some canvas over the door (to keep out breezes), slid the top shut, and went back to bed.

BUMP, bump, bump, BOOM!

I tossed my blanket off, reassured Riley that I would indeed return (he sleeps with me because he’s spoiled beyond belief), slid the top open, unsnapped the canvas, removed three of the five slats (two slats up prevents Riley from jumping out) and went into the cockpit, thinking the dinghy wasn’t far enough from the transom and was hitting the stern. I let out more line. Went back into the cabin. Replaced three slats, snapped the canvas in place, slid the top shut.


Eff this. What the heck is that fraking noise? Diesel? Is the fuel rolling in the tank, slapping from side to side while the boat moves? Really? I know I’ve only got a quarter of a tank, but can that be it? Is it the water tank? No. Whatever that stupid noise is, it’s coming from outside. But I was just out there. Darn it. Will I have to deal with this ALL FLIPPING NIGHT???

BOOM! Boom, bump, bump, bump, BOOM!


Slide the top, undo three slats, unsnap canvas, dash into the cockpit and I listen. The tiller is bumping on the backstay. Duh. Every time a wave comes along, it knocks on the rudder, which is conveniently attached to the tiller. So. I unsnapped the tiller’s canvas cover from the backstay, dropped the tiller, and grabbed a bunji cord. I then secured the tiller to the backstay with hopefully enough force to keep it from moving.

Back into bed I went.

Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump.

Oh. My. GAWD!!!

Up. Slide the top. Slats. D@mn slats. Into the cockpit. Why did I have to have a tiller? I unwrapped my bunji cord and dropped the tiller. I am not stronger than the wind, so why fight it? I strapped the bunji around the tiller, and a hook went on either side of it to the back stanchions. The tiller could then move to and fro, but not fling from side to side and create more ruckus. There. That should do it. If it doesn’t, I’m ripping off the tiller and throwing it into the bay. Screw it. Steering’s overrated anyway.

Back into the cabin. Slats. Top. Into bed.

The only noises left to cope with were things I could do nothing about. My sleep wasn’t good. It was a warm storm, so it was difficult to get comfortable. The wind howled all night. When water hits the hull, it makes a loud splashing sound. I know I slept some, but not enough. It was too warm to have my morning coffee, so I skipped that and did my dishes instead. Most of my morning was spent out of focus, walking around town in clothes that can only be described as “frumpy.” Too tired to put in my contact lenses, I glammed it up with my 6 year old glasses, with lenses so scratched it’s like viewing the world through greased-stained plastic wrap. Windy, wet, and humid, I decided to put my hair up in a ponytail. Oh yes. I looked marvelous.

It is with my sincerest, deepest, most desperate hope that the wind is dead tonight. Oh please, Lord, dead wind tonight!

So be not jealous. I paid for my painterly morning view!

1 Comment

  1. Cindy September 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Oh Courtney, your descriptive words are like no other! Reading this I was chuckling from the depth of my soul! Anyone living on the hook or traveling & anchoring out has encountered that awful sea state with provisions, and can relate to your ordeal. Nothing quite like getting all showered up or doing fresh laundry to have it all soaked in sea spray on it’s way home.

    Your pictures were absolutely beautiful & hopefully the seas are calmer for you today. I especially loved your description of your glasses with the scratches, as I own a pair of those myself. For you to wear those & go to shore, I can only imagine how badly you felt!

    Wishing you calm seas & pleasant dreams tonight!