The Rescue – well sorta

This is a very delayed post of events in November 2016. Enjoy.

With the birthday bash behind us, we awoke on Monday to a drizzly day. We had hoped to go to Jost van Dyke but decided to see just what the weather was really going to be like. So we wandered into town with just a hint of rain and decided to track down the rum distillery. Sure enough they were open in a very old building. Actually quite funky but they didn’t want pictures taken inside. Ah well. We discovered they make 4 types of rum but are actively distilling only from March sometime to August when the sugar cane harvest comes in locally. Disappointed, yes, but never fear.

Our host was very energetic. Let me tell you about the 4 types of rum. There is the basic rum (4 year old, quite the bite, you know you have liquor in your mouth), aged rum (10 year old aged in oak casks from Kentucky, remarkably smooth and sophisticated – well maybe that is a bit much to say for rum, so let’s just say on the velvety side with little bite), the “oh you are American, here is a Bacardi style white rum” (where did all the flavor go?) and the “panty” rum. Huh? Whazzat? Well you take your basic rum, bottle it with a piece of cane sugar, and you have your rum aperitif (sweet easy on the mouth) with a bit of a hidden kick, ergo reference to removal of panties after much consumption of same. Got me to thinking in nonsexist terms but jock strap rum, brief rum, undie rum just didn’t roll out quite the same. Lookin’ for some ideas here to help the Callwood distillery with a gender neutral term for drinking too much and ….

Nuff said. Connie, I am afraid I have destroyed your son as we opted for the taste test at the horrendous price of $1 for a sample of all 4 rums (uh, I think it was 9 in the morning – sorry again). But they were really small shots, honest, really (make the communion wine look like flagon thereof [if you don’t know what a flagon is, you shouldn’t be reading this post])! But it was an eye opener and the 10 year rum won out big time, the other 3 trailing badly.

OK, now we have two rummies wandering the town early on a Monday trying to decide what to do for the day. Take Charlie to the beach! What else since it was all of 10 steps away. And what do we find, Charlie’s ball “lost” the day before. Well this is a very honest town to leave the ball on the beach for a whole day for Charlie to go discover it. Some pics of Cane Garden Bay which is mostly destroyed now by Irma:

After a good play and a couple more groceries, we are back at the boat with the rain abating but the wind picking up big time. As I eat breakfast, I notice our too near neighbors reanchoring a ways away. Good on em I think and return to my repast. Finally I note them departing at slow speed with people running about on the deck. Odd, but each to their own. Ten minutes later a wander onto the deck to wash out the coffee filter in salt water and I discover a snorkeler nearby that appears not to be snorkeling. I at first politely ignore him but then curiosity gets the better of me and I ask if he needs assistance as he seems to be hanging about a bit long.

OK, so now it gets interesting. Matt (that’s his name – from NZ) says he is a bit perplexed as his boat with his spouse (NZ) and a bunch of us Canadians appears to have departed without him. We can see it way out yonder towards Jost but they are moving oddly so we worry that they are performing a man overboard search. We invite Matt aboard and the wind picks up to 20 knots so we are trying to decide what to do. We can’t reach his boat on the VHF so …

So the decision? Of course, go out to find (nameless to protect the innocent) The Boat and deliver Matt home – even though we have decided not to go to Jost because the weather is becoming very sketchy (15 to 20 knot forecast, now blowing 25). So we keep sails down and motor out towards the errant boat. Titan does an excellent job hauling anchor in 25 knots sustained. Then a turn north with the winds behind us, we get there fairly quickly although we find ourselves 3/4 of the way to Jost even though we decided not to go there. But the wind gods are truly of the fickle greek/roman nature. As we arrive at The Boat (catamaran) we discover she has neatly wrapped a water toy line bar tight to the starboard prop (what this means to non sailors is The Boat now has only one working engine which tends to turn the boat in circles instead of going in a straight line somewhere). They have a diver in the water trying to cut through the lines but the winds are building and the rough water makes it too dangerous to stay in the water. So now we know they are in distress and can surmise the circumstances as they drifted out of Cane Garden Bay trying not to hit any reefs, mooring balls, or boats on a single engine. So partial relief as we realize they have not abandoned poor Matt (marriage intact) but are trying to protect the boat and hope Matt figures out something (which he did getting himself safely aboard our boat). What to do?

Option 1 – Go to Cane Garden Bay, re-anchor, and wait there for Matt’s boat. Problem. Winds are now 35 knots sustained gusting to 45 – nix on the re-anchor.
Option 2 – Go to Soper’s Hole and hope it is better there (more aligned with the forecast). Problem. Boat in trouble is going east not west to Soper’s Hole.
Option 3 – Matt swims back to his boat. Problem. Have you ever been in the water in high short chop with 45 knot winds? Didn’t think so.

Result: Bad decision, good outcome.

I decide to give Matt the choice and he opts to swim to his boat (maybe we had bad BO). He still has his fins but mask and snorkel departed to King Neptune in a violent gust of wind moments before. The Boat strings out a line with a number of life vests at the end. Blue Sky approaches to windward at speed to maintain control and avoid a collision. Engines cut off, Matt exits Blue Sky off the starboard sugar scoop and is at the life vests moments later but does not don one (oops). He manages to get to the sugar scoop stern of The Boat and grabs on as wave lifts him out of water – safe! Phew! What if, he had lost his grip, the sugar scoop had dropped and bonked him on head with no life vest. Bad scene. Very grateful for the outcome but would decide differently if I had to do it over.

Happy Sailing Matt and spouse and crew of The Boat! We waved goodbye as they hoisted sail to wander about the BVI until the wind died sufficiently to put someone back in the water to cut the prop free. Hope you got the line free shortly and the rest of your vacation was great!

So we turned west and Blue Sky motored into murderous 45 know winds peaking at 50 until the turn into Soper’s Hole at which point the winds subsided to 20-25 which felt calm by contrast. Picking up a mooring ball was still a challenge but Titan did a great job. And of course, Neptune had the last laugh, 10 minutes after securing to the ball the winds plummeted to 10 knots as if to say – What? Were you worried?

So we sank (bad word) back into a quiet evening to regain our composure and rest. Or so we thought. Hadn’t seen Linda and Bill for a while, so off Paul went to reunite Charlie with Zoe (who Charlie absolutely adores) and renew our friendship. Meanwhile Titan was happy to grab a kayak and do a tour of Soper’s Hole including paddling through the gap to the eastern/southern shore (a challenge with the current). Great adventure. All were safe and happily tired as we found our bunks after an eventful day. Just another day in paradise!

PS – a tremendous lack of photos in this post but we were a bit too involved in the events to think photo. Maybe I should buy a dash cam and mount it on the boat somewhere. Hmmmm.

Quick BVI tour

Having arrived safely in the BVI after a great trip, it was now time to introduce Titan to this beautiful country. But first, we had a variety of events winding up with the Salty Dawg arrival dinner on the 18th then resting up, hiking, swimming, eating (Fat Virgin, Saba Rock, Crawl Pub), and of course the occasional sip of beer or rum – in other words taking full advantage of our hosts, the Bitter End Yacht Club and surroundings in North Sound. It is a very beautiful place. We wrapped it up with US Thanksgiving dinner a day early on the beach at Prickly Pear complete with live entertainment provided by Hair of the Dawg (Rick, Malcolm, Paul, and Steve on guitars leading some Buffet favorites along with other singable tunes). After that it was time to set sail.

So off to Anegada. We enjoyed 15 to 20 knot winds on a broad reach which whisked us to Anegada in a couple of hours. We hiked the roads around town then all the beaches by the restaurants to get a flavor of the place. When we got back to Blue Sky, Orion arrived by dinghy and we decided to rent a car for the next day to see the island and enjoy Loblolly Bay and Cow Wreck Beach. Snorkeling was great and Charlie had a great time piling sand everywhere after running around the beach like a mad thing. It was a great day. As evening set we opted out of the lobster fest with music and enjoyed dinner on the boat. Actually we got to “enjoy” the music until about 3 AM as one restaurant has a stadium worthy sound system. Still it was all fun while enjoying a little star gazing. Actually we were listening to the handiwork of a DJ we met at Cow Wreck beach earlier in the day. Small world?! You betcha. We learned from him that the island population is fundamentally 4 families with, of course, many relatives. Small world when you have an island of less than 400 people.

So a day and a half was great for Anegada but the winds beckoned us to raise sail and go, but where ??? We kept changing our minds en route finally ending up at Cane Garden Bay. North swell caused us to forego the normally great snorkeling at Monkey Bay enroute which was a pity. But once again we had a great wind pushing us nicely on a broad reach directly to Cane Garden Bay. It was quite strong blowing 20-25 knots with gusts to 30 but Blue Sky loves that kind of wind on a broad reach so it was a fast comfortable trip arriving around dinner time. We anchored very close to shore and found the north swell was not a problem. A quick exploration of town, a few groceries, and we packed it up for the night.

Sunday was a lazy day exploring the town, getting groceries, playing with Charlie on the beach then topping it off with Titan’s 18th birthday dinner at Quito’s with great live music. We both discovered the only way to have conch was cracked conch at Quito’s. Just superb. Some happy hour $2 beers with dinner and we slept well that night despite one party at a bar that managed to entertain the whole neighborhood until 4 AM. But it didn’t matter. Great beach, great fun, great food, great music in a beautiful place celebrating my grandson’s 18th birthday. Can’t beat that.

Titan enjoying happy hour with great appetizers

BVI beckons as Hampton gets chilly

Tis that time of year again when the seasons encourage one to do like almost all smart birds – head south that is. But this year it is with a twist. Gwyn has temporarily swallowed the anchor for a challenging project stint at a hospital so I find myself without my wife, constant companion, best friend, and co-captain. That’s a big loss/change! And mother nature threw a knuckle ball by speeding a lightning bolt toward Blue Sky in September effectively destroying all electronics on the boat. So the last couple of month’s have been a mad scramble getting the boat ready for a passage while constantly discovering layers of damage. But that will be covered in another post.

So throwing out the challenge of how to get south without an arduous singlehander (plus Charlie) trip, Paul went looking for crew, found 3 but one dropped out at the last second. Never fear, the committed two proved to be great crew and we (Paul, Charlie, Elisabeth, Dennis plus Paul’s grandson, Titan) proved up to the challenge, scrambling at the last minute to get the boat seaworthy and stores aboard for what is usually a challenging trip. But Neptune was kind this year and the trip was the fastest and easiest of the last four years, by far!! So between favorable winds and having 3 instead of two crew (meaning 5 1/2 hours of sleep at a time instead of 2 1/2), the trip was wonderful. But you have to understand that is relative to the “normal” trip. A new passagemaker might describe our easy trip as horrible, rough, biiiig waves, thought the boat was coming apart, never got any sleep, how can you talk on the SSB, catch your coffee taking an unplanned trip to starboard, while typing on the computer, and pretending this is fun! But that IS the joy of a passage, its always different and the more you do, the more interesting it becomes. If it isn’t your thing, a cruise ship is definitely a better idea.

But it is my thing, and Charlie, and my crew, and eventually Titan (you gotta let your body figure it out for a bit). We left on Nov 5 with a favorable wind but not quite enough speed to get across the gulf stream before a bad wind shift to the north was due to arrive. So we augmented the sail with a loping motor which got us across on time. It was lovely to shut it down and have some quiet on day 2. The promised north wind showed up creating 12 foot steep waves with the odd one to 20 feet. But they were coming from the aft quarter (behind us) which I find relatively comfortable in our catamaran, not so much in a monohull. So we had a rough fast ride for a day or so until the waves got further apart making the ups and downs more gentle. All our brand new electronics performed wonderfully and we had a good ride.

Once Titan got his sea legs after a few days and the seas relaxed a bit, it was time for fishing. Armed with a measly $48 worth of fishing gear (Cuban Yoyo, no rod and reel) our expectations weren’t high but we were hopeful.

Titan maintaining a cool fish watch 400 miles from land
Titan maintaining a cool fish watch 400 miles from land

Of course the first thing we caught was ourselves! Whoa, how is that? Well, just forget to pull in your fishing line at night, add an autopilot disengaging somehow, a sprinkle of boat turning 360 degrees before the Watch sorted out something was amiss and you have the fishing line wrapped around the rudder/sail drive. The good news since we were motorsailing at the time is that it wrapped around the rudder/saildrive of the engine that was off. And even better, when the captain started his 5 am shift, he noticed the line was out but very taut and crossing behind the boat – so wisely did not switch to the port motor. So as the crew awoke from their slumbers we all did a little brainstorming and sorted out how to unwind the line without losing the lure, making things worse, or jumping in the water which was still a bit bumpy for doing work under the boat.

But it was all worth it as a couple days later – “Fish on”.

And all that led to over 30 pounds of 3 types of fish in the freezer.

Fantastic Wahoo steaks!  Whoopee!  Yum.
Fantastic Wahoo steaks! Whoopee! Yum.

As we got south, all were able to get somewhat more relaxed until we spotted Tortola before dark on the 13th and had a fantastic fast beam reach sail all the way in to North Sound arriving at 9 pm with an almost full moon (impossible to photograph on a moving boat but was stunning and beautiful).

The next day, after checking in with customs and immigration, it was relaxing time for all until our crew had to leave early Wednesday morning.

A hearty thanks to my fine crew Dennis and Elisabeth who with Titan blended into a wonderful temporary family for the trip. You two are awesome! And thanks to our great provider, Titan, for the awesome variety of fish to eat and add to ship stores. Certainly made a great return on the $48 fishing tools investment! And for a final thrill, Titan hooked into a marlin just before we hit BVI waters. As we were trying to figure out how to let it go, it made a short hop then quick turn, and it was gone. Beautiful fish back into the sea to grow much bigger.

The rough “bird” passage to BVI

As usual, it was a bit of a mad scramble getting ourselves and the boat ready for the passage. G did a great job getting the boat provisioned early on but P kept running into issues prepping the boat. The biggest discovery was that the lithium batteries which have performed flawlessly for over a year were discovered to be a major noise source which made it difficult to receive distant calls on the SSB. Actually the EMS system on the batteries was the guilty party. Since this is critical to battery safety, it created a dilemma. For the trip, P wired a special switch to briefly shut down the EMS during radio calls. It worked so well that we were hearing all manner of other traffic on the radio that we had never been able to pull out of the noise. So that was a great discovery. The downside is a more permanent solution is going to be more complex.

But we managed to get all ready for the Nov 2 departure but that day didn’t look very promising so we delayed to the 3rd. The forecast winds were the wrong direction and a tropical storm was brewing which later became hurricane Kate. But delaying also had a nasty front brewing the following week, so we opted to go with the devil we knew rather than wait around another week. Many other boats departed on the same day and we seemed to roughly transit at the same rate so we had more company for the whole trip than we did the last 2 trips down to BVI. Of course on the ocean a “close” boat is one that is less than 50 miles away. We would occasionally spot another boat at sunset or sunrise when it was easiest to see or at night.

So off we set motorsailing out of the Chesapeake with a nuclear sub for a brief escort

Leaving the Chesapeake with a nuclear sub escort
Leaving the Chesapeake with a nuclear sub escort

We had delayed a day so the Northeast wind blowing against the gulf stream current would subside and make for an uncomfortable ride instead of extremely uncomfortable. Of course it didn’t help that the path through the gulf stream meant we had to sail to windward close hauled (most uncomfortable point of sail). Taking pictures of waves doesn’t impart a good view of the sea state, but a few of our fellow Salty Dawg sailors happened to be passing nearby and that should give you some idea of the uncomfortable motion. Kind of like riding that mechanical bull at a bar out west. Pics are a bit blurry due to the motion and getting late in the day but you should get the idea.

To exacerbate the situation, the wind clocked southeast as we were getting across the stream which meant we had to go northeast or southwest, both of which kept us in the stream. Didn’t take long for the captains to decide that despite having plenty of wind, staying in the stream was a lousy idea, so 6 hours of motoring later, we exited the stream and its steep waves but still had lousy sailing southwest in a cross swell, meaning the swell was coming from the northeast from the day before and now we got wind driven waves from the southeast all the while we were still sailing close hauled into the wind. What this means is that if the northeast swell meets a big wind driven wave at the same point as your boat meets them – well let’s just say we found ourselves still on the mechanical bull despite being out of the stream. The unfortunate part in retrospect is that we experienced this type of sea while sailing to windward for 9 out of our 11 day trip. Although we love passage making normally, this was one passage we were happy to be done with.

But we did have some fun along the way which is why we called it the “bird” trip. Our first passenger was a little guy/gal who showed up and just happily flew into the salon area of the boat. After exploring the boat a bit and driving Charlie crazy, s/he settled in to our mint plant and spent about an hour getting any little pests he could find off of it, thus earning his/her keep. Spent the night with us then reluctantly said goodbye and flew off to find another boat on his/her way to South America.

The next day, Nov 8, P got up to make his normal coffee on shift at 5 am – no propane. Dang. But switching the tanks is relatively painless normally but made a bit more painful with the boat happily bounding over steep waves. But the coffee got made and the captain enjoyed a completely unspectacular sunrise.

Once appropriately caffeinated, P went to fire up the genset to charge the batteries, but it of course refused to run. Since the whole trip had been cloudy, we were not getting much from our solar. So, P decided to charge with engine instead only to discover that the starboard alternator had taken early retirement and wasn’t about to work hard enough to recharge our batteries. This is when you are happy to have a catamaran and fire up the port engine to get some electricity (not very happy at engine maintenance time, however). Since solar + genset + starboard engine = three strikes, but we were still not out, P decided that he had better set about fixing the genset. On a bouncy boat, not fun, but within a couple of hours and a new impeller installed, the genset finally fired up. Normally this would make me very happy, but no charge was going into the batteries. The charger had an I’m not happy, I’m too hot light turned on. However when P checked the unit, it was stone cold. Hmmmm. After much poking and prodding and resetting, P was happy to hear the genset purring and pumping 160 amps into our batteries again. Phew! But he didn’t know what he had done to fix it so it would surely haunt him later. But a busy shift of investigating and fixing had flown by.

As an aside, replacing the impeller is normal maintenance which is done once a year. But last winter the genset ran only 3 hours in 6 months and the impeller despite being almost new self destructed. Note to self, run the genset whether you need to or not every couple of weeks.

Now we are six days into the trip, still bouncing like crazy, impossible to read, so what else do you do on a night shift? Take a pic of what the salon looks like under way at night.

Salon nav station at night under way.
Salon nav station at night under way.

Nov 9 didn’t improve – got worse. Once again that little light came on and the charger refused to charge. P shut it down for a while then restarted again, and it worked. This is not a good thing. So the weather decided to distract us a bit with a very rough squall filled night and gusts to 35 knots. Are we having fun yet?

Nov 10th, didn’t even want to get up to check that little light. Sure enough it was on again and nothing P did would turn it off. The good news is we have a back up charger so we did charge albeit slowly. Also found our backup inverter for the AC. Gee what else could fail? Once again that night the weather tried to distract us from our worries and put on just a wonderful lightening show which we mainly successfully kept at a distance. But the winds weren’t as wild as the night before.

Bit of a sunset under way
Bit of a sunset under way

Nov 11 – light winds with the sea down quite a bit, a welcome break. Even the boat showed its appreciation for the much kinder sea state by refusing to turn on that little temperature light so we quickly recharged all the battery banks and thanked Neptune. The seas started to get squally later in the day. So what does it look like entering a squall you can’t avoid near sunset. Sometimes just very eerie.

Bumping into a squall at sunset
Bumping into a squall at sunset

Nov 12 – bird #2 day. We had another little bird come to rest on the boat for a while. It wasn’t as brave as the first so didn’t come into the salon, but found a happy spot out of the wind behind our dodger and got a good night’s sleep. G put some food up by it. Off s/he went the next morning. Gee nothing went wrong or broke – nice day!

Bird #2 on the trip
Bird #2 on the trip

Nov 13 – bird #3 day. Having said goodbye to bird 2, we were startled to find a cool dude just hanging out on our lifelines in the afternoon. Only a picture can say this:

Innovative way to hang loose Blue Sky
Innovative way to hang loose Blue Sky

After watching the dude for a while, we decided s/he was probably more stressed and caught than cool especially when his foot slipped off the toe rail and s/he was literally just hanging there. So we stopped the boat and G gently lifted his/her body with our boat pole until he was able to flutter away and settle in the water. He just sat in the water a while regaining his/her dignity, did not appear to be harmed so we continued on our way in deteriorating cross seas and headwind – par for this trip but we were nearing the end. Whoopee! Then as night closed in, we hit those trade winds for the first time. The cross seas went away by midnight and the boat acted like it wanted to get to BVI more than we wanted to. Our GPS arrival forecast went from 1500 the next day to 0800 as our speed built and the ride smoothed out. Now this is sailing:

Clipping along at 9.4 knots in an ENE wind nearing BVI
Clipping along at 9.4 knots in an ENE wind nearing BVI

It was the opposite of the rest of the trip! Although there were squalls all around that night, we seemed to zip along between them without hitting one. Even the next morning looked dicey for arrival.


So this was our 3rd Hampton to BVI passage and quite surprisingly they have all been completed within 5 hours of each other. Each trip was very different, this latest trip being the roughest for the longest time but the least amount of motoring. We have never been in the trades for more than 12 hours on any of the trips so it makes me wonder how many times we have to do this before we hit the “normal” sail to 065W then go south on the trades.

But this passage was amazing in that every night we saw at least one meteor each and many more with a few long streakers despite a lot of clouds on other nights. G’s theory is that the passage was so rough we didn’t have our noses buried in books, crossword puzzles, etc during out shifts. P thinks she is right.

Of course after we had arrived, P had to repair our Torqeedo dinghy motor before we could get ashore to clear in. And so it goes.

Off to Bristol, First Step

Time was up in Hampton but the weather window looked terrible so we cancelled the direct to Block Island/Bristol plan (plan A) and opted for the “Let’s dash up to Cape May and see how it looks” plan (plan B). Of course doing that seems safer running up the Chesapeake instead of venturing out into blue water but it adds 100+ miles and the stress of many commercial ships in a small place (plan C). And since when are forecast severe thunderstorms and tornado watches actually safe (the morning forecast)? So Plan B won and outside we went. We set off on Thursday at 9:30, fully fueled, and had a great 2+ knot ebb current push us out of the Chesapeake as we headed NNE. Gotta love it. This is going to be a great trip.

Remind me never to think that. After getting out of the Chesapeake dodging freighters, carriers, and destroyers (stay 1,000 yards away or they get heavily on your case – poor fishermen had to scatter), we meandered up the Delaware coast expecting the grib/NOAA forecast wind to veer east and thus provide us with a reasonable close reasch sail up the coast. Alas, methinks in nautical terms, forecast = dream, similar to the 15 knot forecast really meaning 25 knots. Soon we were blissfully hammering our way into steep 3 foot short period chop with winds on the nose (NNE not east) and motors roaring. You see, we couldn’t really “sail” i.e. “go where the wind takes you” without risking spending a significant amount of time in forecast 20+ knot winds (remember the translation = 30+ knot winds). So we tore along at 5.5 knots (normally 7.5 knots in flat seas) towards our destination as the captain embraced the oil sheikhs feeding the motors in what should have been a green boat.

But the sunset (sorry no pictures) and just after sunset were amazing. Did you see Jupiter rising with Venus? Jupiter is spectacularly bright and Venus is very close. By June 30 they will appear as a double star (hope it is clear that night). As it was I was awed by the sight but had to wait until we got to internet range to know what I had just seen. Pictures from a bouncing boat were poor so no photos.

Luckily, this bashing and crashing in waves at right angles due to the partial wind shift lasted a mere 9 hours, but that was enough for Charlie to look quite forlorn, refuse to eat, and give you the evil eye that says “how do you expect me to poop in this bucking bronco?”. But fate gave us relief with the predicted wind shift finally showing up settling us in to a lovely beam reach with no engines – catamarans just love beam reaches. As if to say I am sorry for the last 9 hours beating your brains out, mother nature upped the ante and made up for the late wind shift by bringing in the higher winds earlier than forecast (such is sailing – forget the computer and all that fancy stuff and just sail in whatever you are in!). So now we were tearing along between 8 and 9 knots directly into waves that had not quite gotten the message that the wind had shifted. Yee Haw – now this is exciting! At least we were going the right direction with a 20-25 knot wind (which wasn’t supposed to show up for another 5-6 hours accompanied by 30+ knot gusts).

Red Sky in the morning = run for cover in Cape May
Red Sky in the morning = run for cover in Cape May

Well there is always a bright side. Right? Sure was in this case. With all that great speed and the bashing our brains out, our arrival time originally planned as 2 pm was improving dramatically dropping to 1 pm, noon, 10, then 9 am!. Wow, if you have to be plowing spray all over the boat, it is nice to know there is a benefit. Our arrival dropped dramatically from the initial planned 2 pm to an arrival at 8:30 am. Yah! We beat the big winds, in theory at least. Those big winds were to get all over us at 10 to 11 am but true to form, they arrived at 7:30 am leaving the captain with a “do I reef? I really should, but I’m going to take the sail down in half an hour, but…”. Number one rule of the sea, if you think it, do it. In this case, with all sheets well eased, we tore along at 9 knots to our drop sail point and did exactly that. Then we had a twisty-turny gallop through the breakwater as the following sea kept encouraging the boat, now a motor boat, to turn left or right and head directly for the breakwater (following big seas always want to turn you in a direction you don’t want to go – especially in a breakwater channel that is rapidly shoaling). But we got through with the tired captain called on the new autopilot for some help and it performed admirably keeping us heading more us less straight despite the violent yawing.

Cape May – sweet Cape May. Found an anchor spot but current was opposite of wind so anchoring was quite confusing but we settled ok on the first try. Then we settled back to 25-30 knot winds tearing at the sails as the captain packed them away to reduce windage. Then the rain hit, big time. How perfect can you get? Settled in snugly in a protected harbor with 30 knot winds licking at the boat, rain slashing by. The anchor didn’t budge an inch as we tucked in for the night. Lesson learned – sail what you are given, stay happy, always have a good harbor as an out.

We will head to Bristol tomorrow. Or may not. Let’s see what the forecasters say, then maybe we will poke our nose out into reality and check for ourselves. Meanwhile we are hunkered down with some big thunderstorms that have marched up the Chesapeake slipping by us with much rumbling but a couple looking like they are taking direct aim for us. Thanks mother nature for washing much of the salt off the boat. For now, we are happy not to have taken the Plan A or Plan C route. Love our life.