Bad Day Off Georgia

Bad Day Off Georgia

How did I get here? I thought I had prepared sufficiently

Bad Day Off Georgia band was prepared for the conditions I expected, which were not what we were experiencing.

Had I missed something, failed to prepare, not considered something, or am I just the worst sailor ever? Is the boat okay?

I wish I had crew to help me, but she is downstairs crying and hiding in a bunk to avoid the perceived chaos all around us.

Oh boy, what have I done? This chaotic January day started with good intentions.

After a week of pleasant, if chilly and noisy, motoring down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and spending time avoiding boat traffic and shoals,

 spotting dolphins, and watching the scenery slowly slide by, we had anchored for the night off the ICW in the Crescent River in Georgia.

The previous night was cool but beautiful, with endless stars and bioluminescence in the water that got stirred up in the dinghy’s wake when I took the dog to shore.

I was tired of the long days of constant steering and noise of motoring the waterway and longed to sail,

Bad Day Off Georgia at least for a day.

Today’s weather forecast called for cloudy skies and 15- to 20-knot winds from the north.

The forecast for 20 to 60 nautical miles offshore called for big, steep waves, but the near-shore forecast was calling for 4 to 6 feet with 6 seconds, a bit steep and maybe a little uncomfortable, but doable.

Our course was to take us down the river with a falling tide, out Doboy Sound near low tide, and then down the coast with fair winds and following seas to somewhere around Jekyll Island or maybe a little farther south.

We’d been going hard for the last week, trying to make miles to escape the winter, and a good day of southbound sailing should help us to hasten our escape from winter.

My profession in aviation has taught me to be thorough with planning and considering the weather and navigational hazards,

to watch out for cognitive biases and hazardous attitudes, to be on the lookout for the unexpected, and to constantly evaluate possible contingencies should things go wrong.

Today seemed like things were going to be pretty good until they weren’t.

As we motored down Doboy Sound, helped along by the falling tide, I headed up and raised the mainsail. We should exit the inlet a little after low tide, hopefully in slack water.

As we motorsailed close-hauled toward the channel, I saw breakers where the chart said they should be on the shallows to the north but didn’t see any significant seas where we should exit into the ocean.

I figured if it got squirrelly in the inlet, we could just turn around and continue down the ICW.

Little did I know how quickly that option would be cut off. All of the sudden, the seas around us were steep, and we were pounding into 5- and 6-foot waves.

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