This is the short version I just posted on facebook. Hopefully it explains the sequence of events. Thanks for all of the good energy here on SA. If I've learned one thing since sailing Jzerro up here to pursue this, it's that when push comes to shove this community is far more receptive and open than you would otherwise assume from our online persona's and varied social media conflicts. It give me faith in our community.
01/21/21: After a wonderful send off from Miramar Yacht Club, Brooklyn, I was finally on my way to San Francisco from NYC. The forecast was for a beam reach to my waypoint at the Gulf Stream in 15 – 20 knots of wind, however after passing Ambrose, the official starting mark of this record route, it was clear there would be lighter wind for a while. One thing was clear when leaving Brooklyn: Jzerro was very loaded down. Due to budget constraints, I wasn’t able to put a watermaker on board for this record, and underestimated how much the extra weight would affect the boat’s motion. Despite this and some minor equipment hassles, things were looking quite good to make my 300 mile day minimum. This meant I could expect to easily average much higher in the next 24 hours and really get some distance on as I sailed into much warmer waters.
Noon 01/22/21: BANG! It sounded like a shotgun went off, and I launched up to check the deck before seeing water rushing into the boat like an open fire hydrant. I could easily see daylight from somewhere light never shines in the leeward pod, and also the otherwise beautiful blue of the Gulf Stream. That hole was above the water line, but pressed hard it was often skipping and occasionally diving into the ocean. Autopilot off, mainsail completely eased with the mast rotator off, jib furled and all rudders up, and finally mainsail down. The boat was now adrift in a building sea state and ocean water was on and in EVERYTHING inside the boat it was not supposed to be. Job one, get the water out! lots of moving sails and heavy gear on to deck to clear the way for accessing all low points of the hull to pump water out with a little 12-volt pump. And lots of removing storage bins from the leeward pod to a higher place to access the areas of the pod holding loads of water with the pump. It was an absolute mess, but a relief that it was above the water and in this condition, we were not taking on much more water through that hole.
After the water was reduced to a manageable level, I put up the storm jib in 20-25 knots and two reefs in the mainsail to limp NNE slowly while I worked on a solution for that hole. On port tack the hole was on the aft, elevated end of the pod, and no water was coming in with so little sail up, but I was still able to make headway upwind like a heavily laden cruising boat. On this new tack I began working with what I had on board to patch that hole. G-flex epoxy, saw, wood screws, drill and spare wood panels. After an hour or so the hole was patched and we were heading north into a worsening weather while waiting for the epoxy to cure. I didn’t eat anything that entire day.
I still had a way to go on port tack North before tacking back to Virginia. 1. I had to wait for the resin to cure a bit more before tacking and 2. I would have to go really slow on that tack to ensure the patched hole didn’t get slammed hard in what were still building conditions. So I laid down in my bunk looking at the instruments as the wind steadily built from 25 to 35 knots. Jzerro clawed her way to weather in these conditions and the sea state was getting pretty bad, but I was able to sleep right next to the repair and no water was coming down on me. Ok then. I’ll just keep heading North.
01/23/21 @ 4:30 am: Time to tack and head back to safety. I’d made it close enough 30-40 knot headwinds to turn and now the resin on the repair was tacky rather than liquid, and I just so happened to be far enough north to beam reach at a snail’s pace to the NC/VA coast. It was slow and dull progress, and starting to get very cold. I drank a lot of hot water to stay warm until daylight.
01/24/21 I’m now approaching the NC/VA coast in much calmer conditions. Seastate has moderated and the wind is now in the teens. Less concerned about the repair getting beaten in, I put up some mainsail, then more, then the J2, and finally the J1 before being becalmed 1 mile from the coast. Close hauled on starboard tack I was able to get north to the shipping lanes entering the Chesapeake Bay with many stops and starts on the way. After crossing the South shipping lane, I’m completely becalmed, stuck in between shipping lanes. I drift for three hours with a dying ebb tide, burning wet paper to see where the wind is coming from, and swatting off calls from friends and loved ones to call a towboat service!
01/25/21 @ 2:12 AM: Two naps in I pop up and a very light southerly wind is filling in. I sheet the mainsail in and Jzerro starts moving directly toward the Bay, then hoist the J0 and I’m moving at 5 to 7 knots directly at Hampton Yacht Club, 24 miles away. After 3.5 hours, just as the sun is rising, I’m met in the harbor entrance by Chandler Clark of #SignatureCanvasMakers and the sailing director of Hampton Yacht Club. Chandler hops on board to deal with the landing. The mainsail is already down and I’m just drifting dead downwind under J-0. I furl it and we drift at half a knot to the dock where the boat is tied up without incident, and this New York to San Francisco record attempt officially ends.