To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Epic Northbound Voyage, Part II

Started: Fernandina Harbor Marina Moorings, 30°40.24′N 081°28.17′W

Anchored: Fort Macon, near Beaufort, NC, 34°42.10′N 076°41.14′W

Log: 358 nm. Time: 60 hr. Engine: 60 hr. Fuel 36.7 Gal.

Part I — except for the fuel gauge — went flawlessly. Since we took on 56 gallons of fuel for 60 hours of motor-sailing, we can confidently predict our fuel consumption is just about .933 gal per hour. This isn't the final word, but it's a handy way to start the morning in Fernandina.

Part II went even better, if that's possible.

Fuel Consumption

Here's what we think about on those long night watches. We can — in our heads — do the math to get to the following magic number. \(6.66 \times 10^{-4}\). What's magical about a four hour watch is the time available to do the math and check it carefully, entirely without paper or calculator. 56 gallons is 60 hours at 1400 RPM.

(Also, having an iPhone with a star chart app. I'm slowly learning my constellations.)

The \(6.66 \times 10^{-4}\) is the gallons per RPM-hour. Multiply by RPM and hours to get projected gallons used.

Here's actual Python programming code for 60 hours at 1400 RPM.

>>> 6.66e-4*60*1400

At 1400 RPM, we'd use 56 gallons. At 1600 RPM, it would be 64 gallons. At 1200 RPM it's only 48 gallons.

Important Note. The RPM's we use aren't truly Ford Lehman RPM's. They're the RPM's for Red Ranger's out-of-calibration tachometer. Engine RPM's are closer to 1020, 1190 and 1370. For a properly calibrated tach, use \(7.84 \times 10^{-4}\) as the gallon per RPM-hour.

In flat seas, with a 7 knot beam-reach breeze, we motor-sail at 7.0 knots with 1200 RPM of engine. Without the engine, we barely make 4 knots. I've tried this experiment a few times during this voyage. We're slowly coming to grips with the motor-sailing vs. pure-sailing aspect of the US East Coast.

This second passage leg could take 69 hours at 5 knots. Close to the edge of the envelope when we have a 75 gallon tank. But, with 25 gallons in jerry jugs on deck, it seems like we might make Beaufort if the weather continues to be polite.

We'll be able to confirm our fuel numbers when we get to Beaufort.

[Update. We only took on 36.7 gallons, but I suspect that we could have taken on as much as 47 gallons. The vent line burbled fuel, so we stopped filling prematurely. I opened the tank, and we're about 6" below full. That's perhaps 10 gallons more.]

Day One: Flatish

The departure from Fernandina on the 25th was glorious. Except for the fog. The St. Mary's River is well marked and the dredged channel runs at a remarkable due East-due West course.

We had an ebb tide and went roaring out into the Atlantic in fine style. The wind picked up. And — Bonus! — it was from a useful direction. We motor-sailed along the coast at amazing 7 to 8 knots. The seas were flat and it was glorious for a while. We stuck with the jib and jigger arrangement from the last three days. Motorsailing with mizzen and yankee gave us good speed and a comfortable motion.


Then the wind died.

So we furled the yankee, sheeted the mizzen amidships to slow the rolling and motored over the oily-calm waters.

The night was clear. CA had to deal with Savannah shipping. This means a lot of judging lights and AIS tracks as she worked her way through the freighters and the fishing fleet.

Day Two: Flatter

The morning of the 26th — around Charleston — the wind perked up again. We're learning this about calms: a flat calm really means two opposing winds that have met at the spot where you are. Eventually, the old wind will be replaced by the new wind, which has to be going in the exact opposite direction.

Good wind direction yesterday, followed by flat calm overnight, means opposing wind today.

And that can also bring rough seas. So we bounced along outside Charleston in 3'-4' waves, bucking a headwind. After yesterday's epic speed, we were barely making 4 knots this morning. The forecast was for this wind to clock slowly to E and maybe even SE. All we can do is chug forward and wait for the weather to improve.

During the afternoon, the wind dropped away and we were able to make better time. Because the seas were flatter. Much flatter.


The lack of wind meant we were making only 5 knots under power.

At 17:00, when writing the log entry, we crossed 33° North latitude precisely. 33°, zero point zero zero zero minutes. Cool.

At the midnight watch change, our ETA in Beaufort had slipped to after 20:00, too close to sunset for our comfort. We added a few RPM's (moving from 1400 to 1700) and reduced the ETA to 17:00 — a more useful time of day to enter the channel for Beaufort.

Day Three: Perfect Sailing


On the 26th, the morning wind was perfect — again — for banging along at well over 8 knots. Occasionally. It's rare enough that I took a picture of it.

We spent the morning on very lumpy seas with the wind at our best sailing angle, 120° off the bow. From this quarter, the mizzen and yankee can work effectively so that we could reach great speeds.

With Mr. Lehman thundering along, we could match our speed to the 4' seas from astern and ride in comfort.

Then the wind died. And we chugged along.

Then the wind picked back up about about 16:00. The last 2 hours were boisterous sailing with 15 knots of wind from just about 45° off our bow. Red Ranger was rocking and rolling with spume flying up in the air. When we crashed through a big wave salt rain spattered down on our dodger window.

At just about 17:45 we went roaring up the river on the flood tide. Nothing is saltier than leaving on an ebb and arriving on a flood. If only I could plan for that.

We dropped the hook near the Fort Macon Coast Guard station. The better to motor over to the town docks in the morning. The idea is to maximize dock time by arriving first thing and using the amenities all day. Arriving late at night, bedraggled and tired means you pay big bucks to sleep there. Arriving early, means water, laundry, showers, shopping, eating and drinking.

Bottom line: 660 miles. 6 days. Probably 110 gallons of fuel.

Mizzen sail cover ripped. Fuel gauge not working.

Looking forward to changing the engine zinc and the fuel injector oil in Beaufort. Then diagnosing the fuel gauge issue. Topping off the fuel, and heading into the wilds of North Carolina.


Attribute Value
Depart Started: Fernandina Harbor Marina Moorings, 30°40.24′N 081°28.17′W
Arrive Anchored: Fort Macon, near Beaufort, NC, 34°42.10′N 076°41.14′W
Log 358 nm.
Time 60 hr.
Engine 60 hr.