Inflection and Tipping Point Monday, April 28, 2008
I think I put my first foot on the slippery slope in the fall of '06 at the Annapolis Boat Show. The Etap was the first boat we saw -- and that was a strategic blunder. Every other boat (except the new C&C 115) looked like a floating RV by comparison. The Etap was clean, efficient, built for sailing. It had this knee-barker in the cockpit, but that was the price of boom-end sheeting; and the traveler could be unpinned for entertaining.
I'd had a Buccaneer 18' racing dinghy for a decade, taught kids to sail at summer camp, taken a few week-long charters in benign locations. But none of those put me on the slippery slope. I'd taken several sailing classes; and one of the outfits had suggested that I look at their offshore class as the next step in my education. It was the Etap CharterLease mailing list, and the regular announcements of moving the boat Punta Gorda and Stamford that wowed me.
Packing List Monday, April 28, 2008
Bob Etter, from Etap CharterLease sent me a detailed packing list. I had much of the gear required for offshore sailing. For example, all the dinghy racers use big offshore foulies and cheap $50 sea boots. As a skier, I had plenty of fleece and polypropylene long underwear. I'm well aware the cotton kills, and I have some great tropical weight, vented, long-sleeve shirts that can be wrung dry and worn comfortably.
However, the offshore inflatable PFD is new to me. The harness, tether and CO2 inflater system is challenging. There are numerous styles available from a variety of companies: Stearns, Mustang, West Marine, etc. And the CO2 rearming cartridges are not well handled by the airlines. They're specifically permitted (by Federal Law) but airlines are easily confused.
While USAir permits the CO2 rearming cartridges, regional carriers have no rational policy on them. They simply prohibit them with the explanation "the cargo hold's not insulated, it could get too hot." What?
Permission Monday, April 28, 2008
The Commodore and I had talked about offshore opportunities. She'd looked around at short offshore trips like Newport to Bermuda. However, those are really competitive; not something for newbies.
The Etap CharterLease email arrived. We knew so little about offshore passage-making, that it was hard to determine what to do. But we looked at other offshore education and realized that an offshore course and a passage with Etap CharterLease had the same benefits for about the same cost.
#1 son is moving to LA, but not until June. #2 daughter is going to China for the Olympics and then moving to Las Vegas, but this is later in the summer. So, the timing of this trip was perfect. It was now or never.
Responsibility Monday, April 28, 2008
I usually plan -- or overplan -- most trips. For 30 years I've planned software development projects. Indeed, computer programming itself is simply an exercise in planning. I'm so used to it, that I take it for granted.
But on this trip, I was crew. I had no responsibility for any planning of any kind. I simply had to get to Punta Gorda, and get back from New Bern. I had to have my gear and be ready to work.
Business Travel Monday, April 28, 2008
The standard business trip is an all-expenses-paid affair. Flight, hotel, car, meals, almost everything. Money -- generally -- is no object. Some clients do have rules and limits; the IRS has some guidelines; but those guidelines are generous.
I generally treat vacation as an opportunity to splurge, and I travel with the family as if it's business travel. Nice hotels, comfortable rental cars, pleasant restaurants.
This, however, feels different. Two very cheap one-way tickets. No car. No hotel. Cheap meals. No vacation toys (like a bag of SCUBA gear).
Also, I'm taking mid-week, mid-day trips. No lines at the airport is fun.
This is more like a sporting event: a karate tournament or sailing regatta. This is sober, focus hard work.
Gadgetry Monday, April 28, 2008
Yes to the iPhone -- personal music player is on the packing list. No to the computer.
I always carry a computer.
The "Just Us" is filled with computers. There's a Mac Mini on board, plus the skipper has a nav system on his laptop. All of this computing horsepower sucks down the amperes; adding another computer to the mix isn't a great idea.
Plus, with four people on board, space is at a premium.
Finally, the offshore thing has me concerned. Sea states will be higher, the possibilities of water and damaging salt in the cabin was higher.
Prudence dictates that the computer stay home.
Stow Your Dunnage Below Tuesday, April 29, 2008
It's a 37 foot boat, with four sweaty guys. Soft-sided luggage is essential. Minimal luggage is just as important. The packing list required my LL Bean Adventure Duffel (large). My "personal items" -- additional clothes, camera, journal, etc. -- required my LL Bean Turbo Transit Pack.
When it's just The Commodore and I, we put all the luggage in the forepeak and sleep in the aft cabin. In this case, I'll have the shelf behind the port settee and the forward two cabinets.
The backpack sits on the shelf, along with toiletries bag, books, etc. Camera and iPhone and small stuff sit in a cabinet.
What about the big duffel with sea boots, fleece and long underwear?
Bill (in the aft cabin) and Tim (in the forepeak) will need some luggage in lieu of a lee cloth. That's handy; it means my big bag isn't underfoot.
Job List Tuesday, April 29, 2008
There are a lot of pre-departure jobs. Bob had a big checklist and was ticking stuff off as we went. These are the few that I helped with.
Deflate and tie down the dinghy.
Unkink the line for the towed generator.
Tie down the dinghy motor on the stern rail.
Put covers on all the cushions.
Jobs Jobs Jobs Wednesday, April 30, 2008
There are a lot of pre-departure jobs. Here's what we did Wednesday morning.
Drive over to the fuel dock, fill the main fuel tank, and fill five 5-gal. jerry cans. These stowed in the cockpit lockers. Fuel bill was over $100. I slopped diesel on my shoes, and had to spend quality time in the head at the marina trying to wash it off.
Give away the last of the dinghy gasoline. There's just no good storage for gasoline on a boat.
Refill the two 5# propane tanks.
Buy miscellaneous stuff at West Marine -- big flat-bottom steel mugs, boat soap, PFD arming keys for Tim.
Shop for provisions. Bob had a menu plan for the 6-7 days of passage. Snacks and what-not had to be added. Fruit is a tough problem. At one to two pieces per day for four guys, that's almost 50-odd pieces. That's a mountain of apples, oranges and bananas.
Bob's a Wonder Bread man. Why? Wonder Bread keeps forever.
I'm a bagel man, but didn't really know it. I could eat two a day. Tim, also, was a bagel man. We could have used at least a dozen.
Ideally, we would have gotten 10# of ice in two big 5# blocks. That way, we would have put in ice and provisions once. However, the store had closed just minutes before we got back to the marina. So tomorrow, we'll get ice and restow the provisions.
After Bill arrived, we could to a complete inspection of the rig. Bill belayed the topping lift as a safety line; I sweated the main halyard. Bob looked at each shroud, each spreader, and lubed the track with SailKote.
We reviewed the various features of Just Us's rig:
Storm jib and inner forestay rigging,
Through hulls (two forward for sensors, two in the head, two in the engine compartment, one sink drain),
The bilge pump, shower drain and the Y-diverter,
MOB is "Quick-Stop" - tack and run back down the the person,
Fire (on an Etap) is the most important hazard - there are three extinguishers,
Reefing is single-line slab reefing for 1st and 2nd positions, the clew is hard to tension.
The advantage of arriving a day early is that I can get a little familiar with parts of the boat and rig.
D Day, H Hour Thursday, May 1, 2008
The final two jobs are easy: top off the water, and restow the fridge with 10# of block ice.
After that, we stow the fenders and docklines and set out.
We start about 9:00 AM, which is -- technically -- Bob's watch. Next up -- from 10:00 to 2:00 -- would have been Bill's watch, but for some reason, I wound up driving during the morning as we gybe down the bay from the Punta Gorda marina to the Gulf of Mexico.
Watches run as follows:
Day: 0600 to 1000; 1000 to 1400; 1400 to 1800.
Night: 1800 to 2100; 2100 to 0000; 0000 to 0300; 0300 to 0600.
With seven watches and four crew, you get two different watches for most days. One day in four you'll only have a single watch. I was supposed to have 1800 to 2100, so I wind up with both 1000 to 1400 and 1800 to 2100 today.
The wind died at 1345, and the motor went on. The wind was replaced by a swarm of the dreaded Florida Love Bugs. They were everywhere on the deck. By 1400, we were at N26°36.887, W082°20.129. Speed is 4.1kn, bearing 163.3. Seas lumpy since the general wind has been from the S.
Dinner. Steak, potatoes and broccoli.
My proper watch began a 1800. The wind sprang up suddenly; we went from calm to 20 kn more-or-less on the nose. We pulled up the 1st reef, killed the motor and bashed to weather. It didn't take long before we handed the sail down to the 2nd reef.
By 2100 we had done a bunch of tweaking, but were still bashing south. The weather predicted some clocking to SW, which would have helped a lot.
Sleeping below was hot and uncomfortable. It was the first time I'd ever tried to sleep on a moving sailboat. It was awkward; I didn't really sleep but dozed fitfully. I sweated a storm into sleeping bag and pillow. It was a nasty night, even though we were sailing (and motor sailing) into fairly mild seas.
Under the Bridge Friday, May 2, 2008
Today my first watch was 0600. It was hot and yucky below, and dozing on deck was better. We spent the time heading S into 22 kn of breeze.
Bob came up early and found that we had somehow wandered 10° off course during the night. Also, the hoped-for SW clocking hadn't happened. Instead the wind had backed into the SE, the precise direction we needed to go.
During the last hours of my watch we tacked toward Florida to try and make some useful easting.
After my watch I lay down for a while, which may have been my third mistake. At this point, I hadn't had a pre-watch snack (mistake 1) -- just a single banana. I hadn't had any coffee (mistake 2). After a little rocking and rolling in my bunk, I realized that I'd forgotten to update the log.
The close work of updating the log was too much -- I had to duck into the head to hurl. You can't hurl on a boat that's heeled. You can't judge vertical. So I hit the head floor, and I needed to rinse the smell down the shower drain and run the pump.
I think my fourth mistake was trying to finish up an old bottle of Dramamine.
Bashing to Weather
I napped on deck where I could watch the horizon. I got a good burning while we battled into the 20 kn winds from the E and SE.
I choked some crackers and a bagel. I decided to (1) chuck the old Dramamine with a hard-to-spot expiration date; and (2) move from 1 Dramamine per day to 2 per day, 12 hours apart. This is consistent with the dosage of "1 or 2 per day".
Mal de Mer
Seasickness includes a trapped feeling that compounds the nausea. While the nausea is debilitating, the feeling of failure your crewmates and being trapped for days -- unable to cope -- is worse. My previous experience had always been day sailing from anchorage to anchorage. Even if I did feel badly, I knew that a good dinner and a quiet night were waiting for me.
Piloting at Night
Fortunately, these were familiar waters. We arrived in the environs of 7 mile bridge after dark.
If you want to see it, check this view on Google Maps to see the gap in the old bridge and the high spot in the new bridge. Then, you drive around a bunch of shallow, dangerous water to head for Boot Key. This view on Google maps will show the bridge gap on the left and the marinas on the right. We did this through Tim's watch, and my night watch -- Bob drove the whole time and the rest of us spotted marks, buoys and bridges.
Dinner. Spaghetti with garlic and butter. At about 11:30 PM. Tied to the megayacht dock.
Heading North Saturday, May 3, 2008
We spent the morning waiting for the wind to shift and a favorable tide for heading out into the Atlantic. As we topped off the water, took showers and emptied the trash, we saw a boat which had sunk at the pier. It was a nightmare scene. Divers, pumps, ropes -- what a mess.
I wandered down US1 to a Mobil Mart looking for bagels. I settled for a fresh loaf of whole wheat.
About 1300 we started the engine to charge the batteries. At about 1400 we cast off our docklines and started heading east into the ocean.
Bashing to Weather
My watch would be the 0000 to 0300, so I idled for a while during the afternoon. A little snack, a little nap.
The wind wasn't cooperating, so we motored E, and would continue motoring E for the next 11 hours.
At about 1730, I decided to whip up dinner. The menu for tonight was tortellini. I crushed and chopped a mountain of garlic, busted out the oregano and olive oil, and served up a plain but workable dinner.
And I washed up. I never felt queasy at all. What a victory.
One trick is to look out the portlight above the stove. You can see the horizon, and that makes the motion easier to take. The other trick is to work in stages, and catch some fresh air on deck between steps.
Avoiding the Reef
This far south, the biggest issue is balancing the passages among the Florida reefs against the potentially rough weather in the Gulf Stream. If we want a calm ride, we have to watch our position carefully to avoid running aground. If we want a little more flexibility, we may get caught in the bouncy conditions in the Gulf Stream.
The really bad situations are wind-against-tide. A prevailing wind from the north, opposing the Gulf Stream, creates big, nasty seas. Bob's objective was to check the Gulf sea state and leave us the option of ducking back inside if it was too nasty.
In the early evening, Bob saw a sailboat cutting in front of us. He hailed them to see what they were doing, and catch some information about sea state further off shore. They were headed for the "inside the reef" passage. Bob gave them a polite cautionary note that it might be "a little skinny" and they would have to navigate precisely if they wanted to get through it successfully.
I started with a bagel and peanut butter, a ginger pill and my nightly dose of Dramamine. One pill -- half the daily dose. I felt great.
We were motoring, hoping for more of a wind shift. About 0100 Bob came on deck and we found we could turn almost N enough to cut the engine. However, the wind was light and we couldn't make a proper course with using the motor to nose us up closer to the wind.
South Florida Sunday, May 4, 2008
Up at the crack of 0800 - some ginger, some dramamine, a peanut butter sandwich. I felt a little iffy until I threw down some black coffee. Ahhh.
I've been told that keeping the blood sugar levels up eases nausea. Hence the parade of bagels and PB sandwiches. For me, coffee seems to settle things. I've heard people swear by flat Coca Cola -- the active ingredients would be caffeine and sugar.
I'm not sure what the caffeine connection could be. It could be entirely placebo; or it could be that the little "edge" of coffee lets me focus better and avoid noticing the boat motion. For that matter, I have no idea why the antihistamines like meclizine (buclizine or cyclizine) would reduce sea-sickness.
Off the beaches of Florida's gold coast, the VHF traffic was amazing. We heard about activated 406 EPIRB's, orange smoke being deployed. We heard a mayday response, and listened to a charter tour catamaran looking for medical assistance.
We were endlessly amused by the CG radio operator trying to establish the facts.
Boater: "We're taking on water off Hallendale beach!"
CG: "What is the nature of your distress?"
Boater: "Taking On Water."
CG: "What are your GPS coordinates?"
Boater: "Hallendale Beach! Right opposite the water tower!"
We also watched the casino cruise ships that park 12 miles off shore for an evening of legal gambling.
I had to change course to dodge a sea turtle. They're big!
It's All About the Food
Tonight's menu was roast pork tenderloin, baked potatoes and asparagus. Yum. At this point in the trip, it had become obvious that Bill was a truly great cook, and really liked it. The rest of us were happy to step aside and watch him work his magic in the little galley.
Wrestling with Giants
One of the problems with coastal cruising is the passing freighters. With AIS, we can see them, but they can't see us. Even with a radar reflector, they would often overlook us. On a few occasions, we had to raise a freighter on the VHF radio to ask them to "give us some consideration" and stay further away.
In one case, we had to shine the light on the sail, and call the freighter. The captain asked, in a dismissive tone, if we were "a pleasure yacht". Bob emphasized that we were a "sailing vessel" and would appreciate his consideration on not forcing us to tack to keep from getting run over.
I started with peanut butter and bread, a ginger pill and my nightly dose of Dramamine. This version is still working
It seemed like a long three hours watching ships roll by. The AIS is a life-saver, because I can determine almost immediately what the lights are whether or not they're going to hit us.
One set of lights, however, was making no progress at all. Later, I found it that I was watching a cruise ship -- that's why it was so bright and so slow.
War Ships Monday, May 5, 2008
A breakfast and I'm ready for a brisk day of doing almost nothing as we work our way NNE. Winds are 10-15 from the NW, so the sailing is GREAT!
We passed N28°55.960, W079°52.232, and I took some pictures of Nothing.
We had heard from a boat, the Voila, bound for Vermont. They had paid a weather router to help them skirt the Gulf Stream.
Bob was doing the same thing by carefully reading the NOAA weather reports, overlying the GRIB weather data on his charts, and using a thermal image of Gulf stream.
"This is U. S. Warship 68..."
Most VHF traffic is crackly and whispery. Who can afford a huge, high-powered rig? Small marine radios are usually 25 watts. They're only line of sight, and antenna movement reduces the available power, so two sailboats can barely make each other out.
The radio transmission from US Warship 68 was like the voice of God almighty booming out of our radio. They were hailing a sailboat off their port bow. The Voila answered, but the 68 didn't think they were the right boat. After a bunch of hailing, we finally chimed in with out coordinates. A third sailboat called back also. Finally, they sorted out the positions and realized it was the Voila that they were looking for.
It turns out the "U. S. Warship 71" (CVN 71, the USS Theodore Roosevelt) was conducting flight operations. They would be maintaining course and speed, and recommended the sailboat not tack so as to keep clear.
We could see jets popping up from below the horizon. Eventually, the ship itself hove into view.
Saltwater spaghetti: use 1/2 sea water, 1/2 fresh water. The mineral content of the sea water, topped with garlic, works.
Since I had the 1800 watch, I ate dinner in the cockpit.
After the sun went down, there was more radio traffic about a live fire exercise. Around 2100 we could see faint flashes over the horizon. It was too far away for the noise to carry.
Breakage Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I had the 0600 to 1000 watch. We're motor sailing directly to Frying Pan Shoal, which is striking distance from our destination of Morehead City. Sailors never say where they're going, they only say where they're bound. Wind and weather may alter your plans.
So will equipment failure.
That's Not Good
At about 1015 Bob checked the rigging, and declared something was not good. I asked, he pointed up, and I saw that the wire rope had started to come out of the swage fitting on the top of the starboard lower shroud.
This is one of those things that has to be braced up immediately, because the consequences of ignoring it are serious.
The Heroic Part
To brace the rig, we need to throw a line over the port side lower spreader and belay that to the toe rail. To do that, we need to hoist Bob aloft. This is the not-easy part.
We can't use the main halyard, so we're going to use the topping lift to hoist Bob up the rig. This means that Bill and I have to clip our harnesses to the jackline, move forward, and both sweat and tail the topping lift to get Bob up the mast.
The bad news? We're in five foot seas -- water is splashing over the bow.
The good news? We're in the warm current, so it's wet but not cold.
At 1021, Tim brought us up into the wind. Bob shinnied up the mast with us belaying him. He looped the line through the port spreader and we lowered him to the deck.
Twice, Bill slid down the deck, stopped by tether and toe rail.
Once we had the line on the sail, Bill and Bob could tension it as best they could. During the descent, the line had caught one something forward. This required a little boat-book action on Bob's part. I'm not sure what it was caught on, but it was up at the height of the first spreader.
Tim tacked us, and we properly tensioned our new rope shroud. Then, we tacked back and made for land.
Ports in a Storm
From as far away as we were, the nearest land was merely South Carolina. The good news is that Seldén has a factory in Charleston, making that ideal. The bad news is that the wind has backed too far to make that practical. So, we're now bound for Hilton Head.
As much as we'd like to consider motoring to Morehead City, or even motoring to Charleston, we're really at the mercy of the winds. Sailing is faster the motoring, but we don't want to strain the rig too much. So we're beam reaching for the closest piece of land.
Best Sailing Ever
The sailing was wonderful. The seas built to the point where I looked up to see the wave tops. These are, perhaps, 10' high, but evenly spaced. On a beam reach, they were comfortable. I wouldn't want to be bashing into them, but reaching across them was just amazingly cool.
Bill made an amazing pepper steak.
Since it was swinging around pretty wildly below, we all ate dinner in the cockpit. I took a nap until my 2100 to 0000 watch.
We'd seen a fair number of dolphins. Sometimes the swam in our bow wave. Sometimes, however, they played with the towed generator. Clearly, that was hazardous fun. We watched a small pod of 4 or 5 take a couple of jumps around the generator.
We could hear mommy Dolphin yelling at the kids: "Get away from that thing! Look what happened to your uncle Harry: he messed with one of those, and now his head's covered with scars."
About the time I had the camera ready, they were gone.
Stranded Wednesday, May 7, 2008
In principle I have the 1000 watch. However, when I show up on deck, we're motoring through the channel markers between Tybee Island, Daufuskie Island and Hilton Head Island. We're bound for Palmetto Bay Marina, up the creek on Hilton Head.
The marina is spectacular, professional and easy to find. The tidal current in the creek is amazing; it is best approached at slack tide. Anchoring at the peak of the ebb makes a lot of sense.
I enjoyed a shower, shave and a great lunch. Bob spent the morning on the phone trying to arrange rigging parts, a haulout and a crane. And there's the rig tuning issues that follow on from removing and adding parts.
I'd love to stay and learn, but I'd be in everyone's way.
I bought cheap Travelocity.com tickets to get down there. My return was for Thursday night. What would it take to change them to Wednesday night?
Call Travelocity.com. First agent reviews the fact that I can change, and it will cost between $100 and $180 dollars, and hands me off to a second agent. What was that all about? It was a total waste of my time.
The second agent reports the actual change fee is $160 AND they can't book a flight for Wednesday. So, my existing $148 ticket doesn't even cover the change fee. AND, they can't find the 5:40 from HHH to ALB via CLT.
So, I booked directly through USAirways. They wanted a $100 change fee (on a $148 ticket). What's my incentive? $48. I'd prefer to stick them with the unusued seat than pay a $100 change fee to reuse a $148 ticket.
[Later, I sent a bunch of emails, and USAirways could not explain or justify the policy; they could only repeat the bizarre formulation that "... you would still pay just the $100.00. You then wold have the $148.00 for future use. " What? I pay $100 to have a $148 credit? Isn't that like having a $48 credit? Apparently not. They have this "they're separate" crap that makes them feel better about reducing my $148 ticket to $48.]
PFD Arming Kits
The other USAirways joy was the PFD rearming kits. I brought them down, but wasn't allowed to bring them back. See Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Section 175.10 (25). They're allowed.
The baggage handler rejected them. I said they came down on a USAirways flight. He said that didn't matter, because he didn't work for USAirways. What? Then why are we talking? Oh, it's a single baggage service for both USAirways and Delta in Hilton Head airport. So, he doesn't work for USAirways, but he speaks for USAirways.
He said that the baggage compartment wasn't insulated. What? Like it would get hot? At altitude it's about -50° F. He has no idea what he's talking about, but he's rejecting the "two small gas cartridges containing no hazardous material other than a Division 2.2 gas that are fitted into a self-inflating life-jacket for inflation purposes, plus no more than two spare cartridges" on his own, personal say-so.
Fallback? UPS. Thank God Hilton Head is small, and I don't have to find a taxi to take me to UPS. Instead, I could walk there and throw $10 at the problem.
I was home by midnight.
Would you do that again? Saturday, May 10, 2008
CB asks if I would do this trip again?
In a heartbeat.
Yes, I was seasick, but that was either (a) expired pills or (b) not taking the full 2-pills-per-day dose. Yes, there were scary freighters in the middle of the night -- that's coastal cruising.
Motoring into the wind and through the calms was part of keeping a schedule. That was tiresome, but the Etap motor housing is well insulated and well ventilated. It was quiet and relatively stink-free.
Stuff broke. Since I have a racing boat, that's how I understand this business: you sail hard and stuff breaks. There are two kinds of tasks, the sailing and the fixing.
Under Your Skin
While having to get up every 7 hours and go back to work is difficult at first, it rapidly got under my skin. I'm still waking up in the middle of the night thinking I missed my watch.
The rolling of the boat, too, sticks with you for the next few days on shore.
Heading North Again Monday, May 12, 2008
Email from the "Just Us" this morning.
So, after a little hiatus for repair and a nod to the weather, Just Us is off again. We departed Palmetto Bay in Hilton Head around 10am this morning with nice wind and plenty of sun. Yesterday saw severe weather and tornado warnings, but other than a bit of rain and a lot of wind, we didn't really see anything.
Boat and crew are all shipshape and the wind is favorable thru the end of the week and for our Hatteras rounding sometime on Wednesday.
We are ready to go, actually more than ready, this has been a nice little stop but everybody is hankering to be underway.
And in the evening.
Finally!!! We're heading towards Connecticut again. Big, broad reach doing about 6+ kts - almost a repeat of leg one (with some exceptions....). Crew are all settled in and enjoying a glorious day, nice a warm and not a cloud in the sky.
Tortellini tonite....I should have paid attention to what Bill did to doctor it up.....I already miss his cooking...
Icky Conditions Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. I wished I'd been there to see the hove-to setup Bob was trying.
Well. sometimes sailing on the Ocean is a lot of fun, and sometimes it's just hard work.
We had an interesting nite last nite, made great time until around midnite when the wind came around on our nose, along with some pretty big seas. After beating our heads against it, we finally hove to around 4:30 and gave ourselves and the boat a rest. Haven't quite perfected the hove to set up on Just Us yet, and while we sat there fairly quitely for a couple of hours, we also lost some ground to drift. We started back in around 7:30 and clawed our way about 10 miles to the good, tackinf all the way, before the wind finally turned and lessened and we were able to shake out all 3 reefs and make for Cape Fear. First time we've seen the second reef on ths trip.
We the sailing finally turned "fun" again, we were treated to a bunch of dolphin pods swim ming in our bow wave and John was amazed by his first school of flying fish. Dave has a line out, but no luck so far.
Things are looking good for our rounding of Cape Fear tommorow evening and the wind looks good for the days after that. Everybody is well rested and looking forward to dinner. John is gonna cook up some steaks tonite and we deserve it.
More Stormy Conditions Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. Even off the boat, I'm learning more and more about routing and trip planning.
After a very quiet late afternoon, early evening of sailing on a smooth sea with good wind, we had to turn the motor on for some help. We motorsailed all nite and set up our approach to Cape Fear, which we rounded around dinner time. Yet to go are Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras and we'll have the 3 Great Capes of the East Coast under our belts.
Wednesday morning's sunrise was one of those magical mornings...just a few stringy clouds and an otherwise crystal clear sky as the sun poked up over the horizon. It was a moment Patrick wouldn't even try to describe right after he came on watch.
... later today ...
At noon today I checked the weather for Hatteras for our rounding. It's looking like the storm that was in the forecast will be a bit stronger and earlier than originally thought. Prudence is the better part of valor so we've decided to tuck into Beaufort, NC for Thursday nite, depart there late Friday and do our rounding in more settled conditions.
On the menu for tonite, the famous Just Us Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil, a la Dave (unless, of course, he is successful with the 2 lines he has strung out...). We already did the traditional Bacon and Eggs Just Us this morning so I guess we're on a roll.
Waiting Thursday, May 15, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. It's got to be frustrating waiting for a weather window.
Here we sit in beautiful (not) downtown Morehead City. It is actually a very nice Marina.
We will depart here very early Sat morning with very good (honest...) wind all the way up the coast.
En Route Saturday, May 17, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. It's got to be frustrating waiting for a weather window.
"Off the Coast of Carolina, after 1 or 2 false starts, We've finally hit our stride!"
Had a good time in Morehead City, met some new friends (Hi Larry and Patricia!) and got to experience a bit of Southern hospitality. It was blowing like stink all nite, we all had a bit of a time getting off the dock, but everybody's out and sailing now, 3 boats followed us out the channel and it looks like the race is on!.
We departed at 7 o"clock, running out of the channel at 6+ knots, good wind, good speed and not too much in the way of hangovers....
All are well and happy to be underway again! We should round Hatteras around 9 or 10 tonite.
Dave just put out the fishing lines and we hope to have some sushi for dinner.
We'll let ya know how he does on the 6pm report.
Turtles Saturday, May 17, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. I was happy to see one turtle. I missed seeing herds of turtles.
If we saw 1 turtle today, we saw 20. Unbelievable number of them out here just lazing on the surface until we get a boat-length or so away and then down they go.
Making great progress towards NYC, looking to round Hatteras on schedule and then start angling in just a little bit to get a wind shift tomorrow.
No luck with fishing although we got into the warm Gulf Stream around 4 this afternoon, day isn't over yet so we're still hoping Dave's fishing luck comes out. If no fish, Pork Loin for dinner (there ya go Doug, there's some material for ya!). Patrick is Chef tonite.
The evening reports will be coming out closer to 6pm than previously....just because I started the Track log on the hour this time.
Cape Fear, Cape Lookout and now Cape Hatteras Sunday, May 18, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. On my leg we had just a day or so of downwind sailing.
Another fine nite/day of sailing. Dave drove us around Hatteras at midnite or so, no muss, no fuss. We ran down the coast to avoid some predicted gales and have just made our turn North with Barnegat the next waypoint.
Saw some Naval Aviators out playing today, coming in about 100' off the deck, shooting at some fictional target and then kicking in the afterburner and standing the jet on it's tail. Pretty impressive.
Patrick had a great watch last nite, perfect downwind sailing conditions with a full moon and nothing but ocean.
Squalls Monday, May 19, 2008
Today's email from Just Us. Glad I missed this.
Bit of a sporty nite last nite, the backside of the front passed over around 8pm and we were in a little line squall for about an hour. Most excitement we've had the whole trip except for our little business off Hilton Head.
Saw some whales spouting this morning just South of the mouth of The Delaware. At first, I saw what I thought was a puff of smoke off towards the horizon, but it dissipated quickly and was soon replaced by another, closer this time. We realized it was a pod of whales on both sides of us, about 200 yds off. They never got close enough to actually see, but they were certainly checking us out from a distance.
We've spent most of the morning taking reefs and shaking them out 30 mins later, looks like it has settled in now, 2 reefs in the main. smallish jib and we're doing 7kts. 2kts more and we'd make the morning flood at Hell Gate...not. We will make the evening tide, tho, so we should be at the dock shortly after midnite Wednesday morning. We're just now passing Cape May and making great speed. We'll pass Atlantic City around midnite and continue to close the cast to Barnegat, where we'll make our last turn towards Sandy Hook and the Harbor.
Dinner tonite: Pepper Steak and baked potatoes 'cuz we have no more rice: > (
Arrival Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Today's email from Just Us.
Arrived Stamford 10:30 PM this evening.