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27 December 2010 @ 08:14 pm
I've decided: about the wind...this is a RIVER boat not a lake boat  
It's been an eventful week and a half, but before I describe it, I want to write about a decision I made in the last few days, which is maybe my most important decision since I started living on the water here.

I've been excessively worried about the wind since the first day on the boat. Some days I've been infuriated by it. Every day I've recorded it's speeds and gusts, and compared them to those forecast and those observed at nearby weather stations.

Unlike everything else about this new life, I've been unable to develop confidence about my abilty to deal with the wind, especially on a sub-concious level. To begin with, all three weather forecast sites I follow have been extremely inaccurate in forecasting it. They frequently disagree with each other, and even when they don't they are wrong -about the direction as well as the speed, almost every day. When they say it will be calm, it blows like a gale. When they predict a gale there is a light breeze instead.

But even if I could have confidence on any given day about what to expect, I've concluded I despise being out here when it's over 12 miles per hour.

This is very important...because it is over that speed almost all the time!

In other words, several days ago, I was almost ready to abort this whole effort, because even though 99 percent of what I am doing is working out great, the other 1 percent, the wind, is driving me totally insane!

But today, I am happy and I feel I put the problem finally behind me after four and a half months.

What turned the situation around?

Well, it began when I discoverd the wind at Tedders and the lake it faces is stronger and more chaotic than the winds at all the nearest weather stations. I concluded this by comparing my notes with the records from those stations.

But then I concluded only part of this is due to the shape of the lake at Tedders, and only part of it is due to the thermal effect of the warm spring outflow at the park around the bend.

Most of the problem is simply due to the fact that Tedders is on the wrong (east) side of a big lake.

Until August, I just never spent every day on the east shore of a big lake, so I never knew how much I hate the wind at such a place.

But then I reminded myself I never intended to make my "home port" on a lake shore anyway, but on the Saint John's River and tributaries.

So, I downloaded a booklet about how windbreaks work, and was amazed that even thirty-foot forests, smaller than those surrounding these waterways, reduce the windspeed to less than 25 percent within one hundred fifty feet of the trees. (A 20 mile per hour wind will be less than five miles per hour.)

So, all I ever needed to do these four and a half months to not be miserable was to just go out the half mile to the other side of the lake and enter the channel! Most of the channel itself is only about one hundred fifty feet or less wide. And it leads to the Saint John's and all the other channels, which is where I always intended to spend my life anyway, not on stupid Spring Garden Lake.

But I've been so busy working on the boat that I always stayed close to Tedders and my car, and had only been out in the channel three times believe it or not.

I got out here in Spring Garden Creek (the channel) early Saturday morning, December 25th, knowing the most blustery cold front yet would be coming later in the day, with winds that would probably blow until Monday (today). And I parked in the old logging canal Bob Costa and I have been discussing, at the first sharp bend (coordinate mark here):

This has been a turning point. While Melbourne and Sanford and other nearby airports had gusts up to 45 miles per hour, I experienced nothing stronger than 6 miles per hour back here in this beautiful spot, ever since I got here over two days ago! I looked out at the tall trees across the channel and saw the upper branches swaying violently and that was the only way I could tell the storm blowing through was as vicious as they forecast. It's been like a completely different boat. I got so used to the wind always battering it that I never knew how nice it feels in calm air. And the temperature dropped below thirty again last night, but it only took three lamps to stay warm, not the five it would have taken out on the gusty lake.

So, obviously, my relationship with Tedders is now changed.

It is the place I must cross that windy lake to if I want my car.

Should I go elsewhere? Well, there are at least three nearby marinas that are on shady channels instead of a wind-swept lake, but it would cost me about $110 per month instead of just $50. And, I wouldn't be just around the bend from a wonderful State Park where I can swim and watch manatees and eat pancakes at the inn, etc., and I doubt I'd find as many nice people.

If I go just a little further out into Spring Garden Creek from where I am, I will reach a spot where the 3-mile hiking trail through the National Wildlife Refuge meets the water, and where the rangers launch boats. If I park there, I can walk back to my car via that trail and a suburban side street, but it would take awhile. But hey, it is still a way to get to Tedders if the lake is too treacherous to boat across because of high winds.

I will start a new entry now to talk about everything else that's happened since mid-December. (See above.)