Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beach in Winter

Beach in Winter
       It has been some time, but I checked this week. The ocean is still there, right where the map says it should be… on the right, a big blue expanse with no writing on it.

       It’s not really blue in North Carolina, you know. The water along the eastern seaboard seems to opt out of blue until somewhere below latitude 30… around Miami I think. Here, on the Carolina coast, it is a mottled green, like the back of a muddy turtle.

       Of course, to be fair, I make this observation on an overcast day in late December from the 11th floor balcony of a high-rise condo overlooking the grand strand of a virtually deserted North Myrtle beach. What’s left of this tourist Mecca is shivering under a teeth-chattering cold snap. Fact: The Official Myrtle Beach Area Visitors Guide lists the average air temperature in January as a balmy 58 degrees. That’s almost tropical, I thought, eying the book’s happy couple, strolling past wind bent sea oats toward the inviting surf. But the weather obviously doesn’t consult the visitor’s guide and this day was definitely NOT in the brochure.

       Maybe that’s why there was such a deep discount on the condo? Yuh think?

     Catamarans versus Monohulls
     Speaking of, I do miss the water. Selling my 34-foot sloop “Sails Call” was the right thing to do, of course. It was just time. She was built in 1984. She was almost 90 in dog years. And, I was beginning to spend more time repairing the sails than setting them. I would like to get another boat some day but my recent catamaran charters in the Caribbean have spoiled me. I told myself that the slip fees alone would more than pay for an annual charter in the British Virgin Islands. And they did! But, thanks entirely to The Moorings, I now want a boat bigger thanI can afford! I mean, once you sit in the captain’s chair of a 46’ x 24’ twin-hull monster that costs over a half-million dollars, your sailing gyroscope will never spin the same! Sailing catamarans have one drawback – they don’t sail very well to windward. Aside from that, there are no negatives that I can see.

     • DOCKING – Catamarans turn on a dime and park like Smart Car. By comparison, a monohull is a log in the water at the dock and can be painfully difficult to moor in a high wind.

     • CABIN SPACE - No comparison! It’s like you’re in a house or something. My first monohull was a 23-foot O’Day. You could ALMOST standup in the center. The next one was a 30-foot Catalina. You could stand up in the center but you couldn’t move very far without ducking down. The 34-footer was much roomier. But the CATAMARAN! Think floating apartment! 

     • SAILING - Like butter! When you hoist the mainsail, you are sliding the leech up 60 feet (or more) of mast (you may need some help with this) But once sail-deployed, this dude has a lot of speed! Sure, in a light wind, it’s slow going. But anything between 10 and 20 knots is a pure dream! Virtually no heeling, either. I am a cruiser, not a thrill-seeker. Hey, If a pontoon even hints at catching air, I’m lowering sail and motoring toward the nearest port! Know what I mean, fellow chicken hearts?

     • ANCHORING -- No sweat as long as the anchorage isn’t crowded. Last April at White Bay, Yost Van Dyke, BVI, we dropped a 50-pound plow anchor into 15 feet of turquoise water and held just fine in not the best ground.  Come to think of it, we were surrounded by boats and never came close to bumping one of them! 

Like I was saying...
     I like the way this ocean draws a sand line and dares the high-rise buildings and the neon glitz to come any further. “Do all of that over there, behind those dunes,” it seems to say. “Come any closer and you’ll be under water, fool.”
     And so the mad sprawl stops. The Tsunami of pavement and lights and piled up concrete freezes in mid crest, giving way to the placid mottled green of its ancient neighbor.

1 comment:

Raz Darnell said...

TOM!! How nice to see you writing again!! This is wonderful! I enjoyed every word, and I mean that. And your point of view is something else, really. Love the new layout, too! Your blog and fellow bloggers have missed you on the blogosphere, sir.