Far Side of the Gulf Stream, Bahamas Bound
Consulting Time II's Captain Doug reports a rough crossing, but she can smell the Bahamas now.
The following arrived at Boats.com world headquarters last week via Sailmail, a cruising sailors e-mail service that transmits over single-sideband radio. The Mooris 486 has since arrived in the Bahamas safely; we'll have the rest of their story in due course.
Greetings from CT II:
It is 1400 hours, Tuesday, November 11, 2010 and our position is N30-38'/W076-50" or about 240 nm due east of Jacksonville, FL. Our destination is Marsh Harbor, Abacos, Bahamas and we should be in the Abacos on Thursday. My trusty crew consists of veterans Bill Richardson and Andy Tofuri and a last minute addition, Lora Terrill. Lora is a beginner sailor from Houston. She and her husband John recently retired and have been taking sailing lessons. They are considering buying a sailboat. Lora has not been offshore before and wanted to go with us for the experience. She is doing great!
We departed Marion, MA at first light Saturday, 30 October. My original plan was to go straight to the Abacos, weather permitting. However, having tried to depart from the East Coast several times previously at the end of October, I built in what I thought was enough extra time to allow for weather delays. My thinking was that if we were lucky enough not to need the extra days, we would day cruise around the sunny Abacos before returning home. Well, as luck would have it, I did not build in enough time.
Departing Marion we had 20-25 kn on the nose. We thought we'd stop for the night at Block Island to let the forecasted 30-35 kn southwesterlies clock to the northwest. But after a few hours of beating our heads against the wall, we ducked into Cuttyhunk and tied up at the closed marina. We were the only boat in the harbor. On our walking tour of the island, we only saw five other people. The big event was going to the little grocery store that was open between 4 and 5 PM. We bought hot chocolate mix.
That night the wind did pick up to 30-35 and then clocked to the NW and died down to 15 - 20. We departed Cuttyhunk at 0900 after a 40 minute delay for the rising tide to allow us to get out of our slip on the third try. That afternoon the wind picked up to 30-35G39 from the NW. We continually reduced sail until we were running on only the third reef in the main. From 1800 Sunday until 0800 Monday we ran on the third reefed main alone in heavy seas, making close to 6 knots. It was not a pleasant afternoon or night.
On Monday, the wind and seas gradually subsided until we had full sails up at 1330. The wind stayed aft of the beam and less than 20 knots through Wednesday. As we approached the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the GRIB files and Commanders Weather (service) told us the conditions in the Gulf Stream were terrible due to two cold front/low pressure systems coming up the coast. Hurricane Tomas was never an issue. So, having been sensitized once again to rough weather, we ducked into Little Creek, VA Tuesday night and took a slip at Taylors Landing Marina. On Wednesday, we made the decision to go to Beaufort, NC via the ICW to let the bad weather pass and to get further down the coast. Bill, who lives in Annapolis, rented a car and drove home. He said he'd rather spend time with his lovely wife, Anne, and tend to some business and agreed to meet us in Beaufort.
Andy hauled me up the mast and I took off the instruments so that we could get under the ICW bridges. We also jury rigged the main engine alternator which had broken somewhere along the way.
So, with some 200 nm to go in four days, we departed Little Creek at first light on Thursday, motored through Norfolk, which is fascinating if you like warships (three carriers, etc), dock yards, the BB Wisconsin, etc. We caught all the opening bridges and one lock just right, along with many other motor and sail boats. We tied up that night at Coinjock, NC and ate ashore. The next day we motored down to Albemarle Sound then sailed to Roanoke Island, motored around Roanoke Island to Pamlico Sound where we were able to sail to a place called Georgetown Anchorage. We arrived at this indentation in the north coast of Pamlico Sound after dark, anchored (the only boat is sight)and had a few boat drinks followed by a great dinner fixed by Chef Lora.
On Friday, we sailed from our anchorage to Oriental, NC, a distance of about 50 nm. It was a quick trip with the wind fair the whole way. We picked up a slip at Oriental Marina and wandered through town to the West Marine store and the grocery store next to it. On the way back to the boat, we bought 2.5 pounds of headless shrimp, fresh off the boat.
On Saturday we slept in, and after spending 45 minutes on the phone with Continental changing our flights from next Thursday to next Sunday, we departed Oriental. We sailed across the Neuse River and motored into Beaufort. We tied up at Beaufort Docks for fuel(24 gallons), water and to put the instruments back on the masthead. Bill arrived about 10 minutes after we did and we departed Beaufort at 1500. And Lora sautéed the shrimp with veggies and penne pasta and no one spilled their wine.
Our plan was to hug the coast for a day or more to let the northerly winds on the Gulf Stream die down. Off shore, the winds were 20-25 NW when we left, but overnight they diminished to 15-20. On Monday morning, we were about 30 nm east of Georgetown, NC. I called Commanders Weather for their take on the weather and their advise was to go right now, that conditions would not be better this week. So with a forecast of 20-25 kn NW and 7-10' seas in the GS, we headed SE. And the weather people were right. It was a rough 18 hours. However, the sky was clear, no squalls or T-storms.
We are currently on the far edge of the GS headed due south. The wind is scheduled to be right on our tail the rest of the trip, which is not a wonderful point of sail. Currently we have 13-14 kn from the NNW and we are making about 6.7kn almost on course for the Abacos.
This has been a tough trip but Chuck Paine and the Morris build team once again have done themselves proud. The boat has performed well and of course having an experienced crew with the right attitude has made it all possible.
All our best
Doug, Bill, Andy and Lora
Oh yes, it is 75F and we are wearing shorts for the first time!!