The Feb 8-9 weather window was not open quite as wide as we like.
It was cloudy leaving Charleston, but flat seas and light breezes. After a few hours of motoring along, I realized we had a serious problem.
During my afternoon nap (CA's watch) I sorted it out. For my sunset watch, I officially throttled back the speed. We we're going to arrive too early. The breeze on our stern was pushing us to well over 6 knots, and our estimated arrival in Daytona was somewhere between 23:00 and 02:00. At 5.7 knots, we'd arrive closer to 06:00, so we' d have some sun to see what we were doing.
I had a proper red-sky-at-night-sailor's-delight sunset.
Boy was that misleading.
The wind crept up (We had been told it would.) This was the forecast detail I overlooked:
NNW-NNE@7-17g22/3-5' (strongest offshore) tonight-Wed9 midday
The NNW-NNE is helpful. From the north means it's cold. That's kind of nasty. The 3-5' seas part was something I failed to appreciate. It was unpleasant. CA managed to get a hot meal into us. We stood our watches.
It got out of control Wed morning when we tried to gybe at St. Mary's.
Here's the setup. The wind was from the starboard quarter. Behind us. Off the the right side. Let's say 30° away from dead astern. The waves are more-or-less behind us, so it's pretty pleasant to be pushed by the waves as well as the wind.
We needed to turn toward port (to the left) about 30°, bringing the wind straight behind us. The sails become more-or-less useless at that angle. So, we're motoring along in waves that are NOT going with the wind. They're off in their own weird world rolling from the port quarter and pushing us right over..
One of the bigger waves would roll us over onto the starboard side and we flop back, rolling all the way to the port side. Back and forth. After about 15 minutes, CA asks what changed.
I told her I'd turned and furled the headsail, nothing was stabilizing us. "I'd like to make Daytona," I told her.
"Okay," she replied. We knew that St. Mary's was almost as cold as Charleston.
After a few minutes I realized we might not even make Jacksonville. The rolling made everything more-or-less impossible. All I could do was hang on.
"I'd like to make Daytona, too, but I'd like to make it in one piece," she shouted from the companionway ladder.
The bail out plan was easy. We'd gybed in the entrance channel to St. Mary's, GA. It was relatively straightforward to turn around and run right into the river and call it a day. No Daytona for us.
Here are the consequence of rolling from rail to rail.
This ancient jug of bilge cleaner — it came with the boat — dropped off a shelf and onto the passthrough. The bottom cracked clean off the container. Filling the passthrough with caustic bilge soap.
Anything else that jumped off the shelf was a mess, also.
The bag holds a bunch of things we're going to tossing out when we get to shore.
The worst casualties were my copy of the Ashley Book of Knots. A bunch of pages got their corners soaked.
My engineering log book. Started in 2010, it has every engine startup, oil change, upgrade, everything. It's sometimes only hard-to-read scribbles.
When I want to know when the oil was changed, that's where I look. I write down the pre-start state of Mr. Lehman every time we start. Every time. Oil consumption. Cooling water consumption. Hard-to-start. Everything.
For the most part, the edges are all that got wet, so most of the book seems usable. It's drying in the sun. We'll see what the caustic elements of the bilge cleaner to to the paper (I hope nothing, but… )
Anchored at 30°46.255′N 081°28.264′W.
The New Plan is a little different from the old plan. We're now sure we're not going straight to Key Biscayne. We're looking at three shorter one-night hops:
St. Marys to Ponce de Leon (Daytona). 112nm 18h
Daytona to Port St. Lucie (Stuart). 120 nm. 20h
Port St. Lucie to Key Biscayne. 100nm. 16h
Each of these requires leaving in the afternoon and sailing over only one night. The idea is to avoid needing a huge weather window. It's winter. We don't have huge runs of L&V (Light and Variable) winds we can motor through.
The current forecast has this:
L&V mostly NW-NE/1-3' Fri11-Sat12
That's our kind of sailing. Seas 1-3' will be a delight to get to Daytona. Then we'll wait for another day like that to jump to Stuart.
|Depart||Cooper River Marina 32°46.079′N, 079°52.858′W|
|Arrive||St. Mary's River 30°46.255′N 081°28.264′W|
|Maintenance||Take on 59 g. fuel|