Chasing Elegua

estarzinger

Super Anarchist
7,685
1,088
Ok, we made it. Arrived at the final waypoint at about 12 noon. It was an interesting trip. A bit of everything. Lots of learning.

A wet and messy boat to clean up. Will report back in more detail later. I need a shower and laundry. I reek.
Gratz - well done, excellent job.

I always personally loved a big fresh squeezed orange juice when I got in from a passage.
 

Elegua

Generalissimo
Ok, after a nice hot shower, a beer, a good meal at a local restaurant (no dishes, yay!) and I night’s rest, I’m procrastinating on cleaning up a soggy boat. There are a lot of thoughts running around my head right now and squeezing those thoughts out through a pen (or keyboard) has always been a fraught exercise, so please bear with me. There is a lot that is new to me, so I appreciate any input where I'm not thinking it through correctly.

First, thanks to everyone who helped out with either advice on weather, driving us around, finding machine shops, hosting us on your dock: it really made a difference to being able to complete this voyage successfully. So thank you so very, very much. I hope to be able to pay it forward some day. It's not a big trip in the larger scheme of things; 100+ other boats just did the same passage with the Salty Dog, but it was our first on our own.

I felt there were a lot of moving parts to this trip, so to make things simpler, I tried to break the voyage up into three parts: 1) Get through the Gulf Stream without breaking things, 2) Get south and east enough to avoid all the nasty weather coming off the US East Coast and set ourselves up to cross the trades 3) Get across the trades.

The plan for the first step was to hit a gate to the SE of Cape Lookout and then cross the Gulf Stream at a COG of 105*. Since the Gulf Stream at Hatteras runs 050*T, you get a 1-2kt boost crossing. The forecast NW of 15-20kts was at the high-end, but seemed doable.

Well, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The first part crossing the Gulf Stream was honestly a bit of an eye opener. The forecast was for 15-20 of of the NW, moving N overnight. The lumpy seas outside of Beaufort only hinted at what was to come. I was feeling a bit mal de mere so I put in a double reef early so I wouldn't have to put one in later. We got to the north wall of the Gulf Stream just after dark and it was like switching a light. As soon as the depth went past 400' breeze came up to 20-25 gusts to 35 out of the N-NW and the stream stood up 12' disordered waves with a 5-7sec interval. Big, tall, confused and bumpy. The moon was up so I could just barely see the waves - like silvery moving mountains. Probably for the best that the view wasn’t perfectly clear as for the first 10 minutes I just kept repeating -"Holy Sh*t". Probably not a great move for crew morale. It was an awe inspiring show put on by mother nature. Water temp was about 80*F, the spray was warm. Gusts from some of the squalls was also warm. The boat did great. We hand steered. I had the boat set-up with a double reefed main (which is like a third reef - about 36% reduction is luff length) and the stay-sail. With the board down just a couple of turns, we were doing 6-7kts through the water, 8-9 over the bottom with the current. The helm was light, we were heeled less that 20 degrees and while there was a lot of movement - this 24k boat was really getting moved around, it wasn't super uncomfortable. After the first 20-30 miles things calmed down a bit, but it was still very lumpy. Having the companionway hatch board in saved us from a wave that rudely tried to sneak aboard. In hindsight this crossing was a mistake. I probably pushed a bit too hard and should have waited for better conditions. It worked the boat hard – new leaks and creaks. The boat probably has never been worked that hard in its life. Now I have to put my crap boat repair skilz into use.

Once through the Gulf Stream on Port tack we wanted to get away from the East Coast as there was some energy coming up from Florida and it was going to form another compression zone against a trof sitting in the Bahamas, so we kept on Port tack getting progressively headed until we were headed SW. It was hard to resist the temptation to tack, especially when you see your easting start to get away from you, but it was supposed to veer if you got south as the weather from Florida came north. We tacked on to starboard around 9pm of the third day.

The time we spent on starboard going east was the best sailing of the trip. Better, warmer weather once we got below 32N, the waves stood down a bit and steady reaching breezes. We caught a mahi that was delicious. Quite a contrast to the cold and bumpy first couple of days.

When to turn south and cross the trades was the big question and this is where we made a big mistake. I had several conflicting thoughts: 1) I felt didn’t have enough fuel for extended motoring, so I wanted to stay in a good windfield. 2) The wind to the north and east didn’t seem that great and far away. The gap to the winds farther south seemed closer. 3) We’re a slow boat that does 5-6kts, maybe 7kts in favorable conditions, no matter the point of sail, so reducing the distance traveled seemed important. It also seemed like crossing the gap in the breeze south to get into the top of the trades and make more easting while they were still light before turning south for the final run seemed like a good trade-off. Well, that didn’t work out. PredictWind was off by 10-20* on how far from the south the wind was coming so we were on a much tighter reach and the reenforced trades much stronger with much larger waves than anything in the model. Next time I’ll go farther east.

Observations in no particular order:
  • Stuff that seems cool coastally, often doesn’t work offshore. For example I had the yard put a cool bungie and fitting to hold my pole on the mast only to find that the big waves of the Gulf Stream knocked it off, so I had to go forward to put it back in place twice, only the second time being smart enough to bring a sail tie. It now stays tied.
  • Every vent on the boat that didn’t fully close, and even those that did, leaked.
  • Vetus dorades are useless with green water on the deck
  • Boat needs more handholds. I’m wondering where is the best place to get them added.
  • Being able to download weather twice a day is a great boon, but must be taken with a grain of salt. They are not as accurate as advertised and often do not fully integrate local conditions. For example they consistently forecast low over the gulf stream and in the trades. The error on the wind direction cost me.
  • The one piece of marine gear that did what was on the label was the windvane.
  • Watching my newish main and brand new genoa slowly blow out is sad.
  • I have 400+ watts of solar on board. Plenty when at anchor but when sailing, something is always getting in the way. Clouds, sails, wrong tack, wrong heading…etc… At night, running lights, instruments and chartplotter pull 2.5A. Fridge pulls 6.7A when cycling. Each i-device pulls about 2A. A laptop can pull 3-4A. It’s be nice to have more power.
  • The ability to have more motoring range would be nice; I just can’t stand having so many jerry cans on deck.
  • Fridge needs more insulation. Even after turning down the temp the duty cycle is 80%
  • I’m not sure what to do about my pointing ability, but my tacking angles suck. The genoa is new and nicely shaped. I have in-board leads. I think my new forestay was cut a little too long and I have too much headstay sag. I already took up what I could on the turnbuckle on my furler (already a questionable thing to do - mess with a turnbuckle you can’t see and don’t fully understand just before a long offshore trip). I might get some moveable genoa leads to help with shape when it’s furled.
  • In-line galley suck offshore
Hors-du-Combat
  • One fire extinguisher bracket by my ass because I fell on it. See handholds
  • Vang attachment point on the mast. Screws backed out. I screwed them back in but the fitting is flexing and making bad noises.
  • Stitching on one mainsail slide. Glad I had my Sailmaker’s Apprentice on board. Simple and quick repair.
  • One Quebec flag lost overboard (replaced by yellow Costco Kirkland Microfiber Cloth)
  • One shroud deck leak
  • Two portlight leaks. Maybe three.
  • Fuel sender leak
  • Everything is wet
By the numbers:
  • According to the log book we sailed 1,437nmi. We left the dock on Nov 13th, were abeam the Beaufort Inlet Lighted Buoy around 15:43 and arrived at the MoA outside Jolly Harbor around 12:06 and tied up to the customs dock in Antigua at 13:00 Nov 24th. If I’ve done my maths right that’s 260.25hrs at an average speed of 5.5kts. That's pretty close to Estars formula I think...
  • We used only 23G of diesel, none of the reserves and only half the tank. I probably could have been more aggressive with motoring.
  • We used 30G of water out of 115. That included cooking, washing and eating for two. We took at least one full shower and most nights had a sponge bath to avoid too much salt in the bunks. Could have been a bit more free with the water.
  • Still have a lot of food on-board including veggies.
  • Most common sail configuration was one reef in the main and a full genoa. The windvane seemed to like that.
  • Windvane drove almost the entire trip with the exception of the Gulf Stream and the last 10 miles or so.
Anyway, I'm feeling a bit like the dog that finally caught the car. I'm here. Now what? :D
 

estarzinger

Super Anarchist
7,685
1,088
There is a lot that is new to me, so I appreciate any input where I'm not thinking it through correctly.
You did really well, don't beat yourself up about anything. First passage, and not the easiest one, ofc things are going to leak and break and go a bit sideways - they probably still will even after your 60th passage lol. It is a real hard environment for the boat and the crew, with lots to learn that is not written in the books.

Personally, given your description, I would not 2nd guess the gulf stream crossing. It is a good day when you can walk away from the landing, it is a brilliant day when the plane can still fly. You made an efficient crossing, no-one hurt, no major damage, learned a lot -all good.

edit: no experienced offshore person will be surprised at the vang fitting - those are notoriously undersized for 'serious' passage making, just way more fatigue cycles than they are designed for - get a rigger or machine shop to find or make you one that looks ridiculous (massive) and it will be just about right. Goosenecks are a little better but also systematically undersized for offshore use, take a close look there also for cracks and fasteners.

I'm here. Now what? :D
Chill a bit - we usually took as many days in first port as the passage was long. Get things fixed - that will be the next learning experience - machine shops are your friend, try to stay away from the superyacht pricing. Then many people don't do it, but there is (or was, I have not been there in a while) some pretty nice local cruising - green island around to the west, inside the reef on the north, and Barbuda. Beth used to fly home for holidays and I would single-hand around to those places and swim and drink beer and read bad paperbacks :)

You do have more 'oh shit' moments to come - your first 40kts sustained and first 50kts sustained, water spouts, possible armed pirates approaching, and your first 'serious' boat damage. Embrace it, they expand your emotional vocabulary.
 
Last edited:

accnick

Super Anarchist
3,545
2,548
Ok, after a nice hot shower, a beer, a good meal at a local restaurant (no dishes, yay!) and I night’s rest, I’m procrastinating on cleaning up a soggy boat. There are a lot of thoughts running around my head right now and squeezing those thoughts out through a pen (or keyboard) has always been a fraught exercise, so please bear with me. There is a lot that is new to me, so I appreciate any input where I'm not thinking it through correctly.

First, thanks to everyone who helped out with either advice on weather, driving us around, finding machine shops, hosting us on your dock: it really made a difference to being able to complete this voyage successfully. So thank you so very, very much. I hope to be able to pay it forward some day. It's not a big trip in the larger scheme of things; 100+ other boats just did the same passage with the Salty Dog, but it was our first on our own.

I felt there were a lot of moving parts to this trip, so to make things simpler, I tried to break the voyage up into three parts: 1) Get through the Gulf Stream without breaking things, 2) Get south and east enough to avoid all the nasty weather coming off the US East Coast and set ourselves up to cross the trades 3) Get across the trades.

The plan for the first step was to hit a gate to the SE of Cape Lookout and then cross the Gulf Stream at a COG of 105*. Since the Gulf Stream at Hatteras runs 050*T, you get a 1-2kt boost crossing. The forecast NW of 15-20kts was at the high-end, but seemed doable.

Well, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The first part crossing the Gulf Stream was honestly a bit of an eye opener. The forecast was for 15-20 of of the NW, moving N overnight. The lumpy seas outside of Beaufort only hinted at what was to come. I was feeling a bit mal de mere so I put in a double reef early so I wouldn't have to put one in later. We got to the north wall of the Gulf Stream just after dark and it was like switching a light. As soon as the depth went past 400' breeze came up to 20-25 gusts to 35 out of the N-NW and the stream stood up 12' disordered waves with a 5-7sec interval. Big, tall, confused and bumpy. The moon was up so I could just barely see the waves - like silvery moving mountains. Probably for the best that the view wasn’t perfectly clear as for the first 10 minutes I just kept repeating -"Holy Sh*t". Probably not a great move for crew morale. It was an awe inspiring show put on by mother nature. Water temp was about 80*F, the spray was warm. Gusts from some of the squalls was also warm. The boat did great. We hand steered. I had the boat set-up with a double reefed main (which is like a third reef - about 36% reduction is luff length) and the stay-sail. With the board down just a couple of turns, we were doing 6-7kts through the water, 8-9 over the bottom with the current. The helm was light, we were heeled less that 20 degrees and while there was a lot of movement - this 24k boat was really getting moved around, it wasn't super uncomfortable. After the first 20-30 miles things calmed down a bit, but it was still very lumpy. Having the companionway hatch board in saved us from a wave that rudely tried to sneak aboard. In hindsight this crossing was a mistake. I probably pushed a bit too hard and should have waited for better conditions. It worked the boat hard – new leaks and creaks. The boat probably has never been worked that hard in its life. Now I have to put my crap boat repair skilz into use.

Once through the Gulf Stream on Port tack we wanted to get away from the East Coast as there was some energy coming up from Florida and it was going to form another compression zone against a trof sitting in the Bahamas, so we kept on Port tack getting progressively headed until we were headed SW. It was hard to resist the temptation to tack, especially when you see your easting start to get away from you, but it was supposed to veer if you got south as the weather from Florida came north. We tacked on to starboard around 9pm of the third day.

The time we spent on starboard going east was the best sailing of the trip. Better, warmer weather once we got below 32N, the waves stood down a bit and steady reaching breezes. We caught a mahi that was delicious. Quite a contrast to the cold and bumpy first couple of days.

When to turn south and cross the trades was the big question and this is where we made a big mistake. I had several conflicting thoughts: 1) I felt didn’t have enough fuel for extended motoring, so I wanted to stay in a good windfield. 2) The wind to the north and east didn’t seem that great and far away. The gap to the winds farther south seemed closer. 3) We’re a slow boat that does 5-6kts, maybe 7kts in favorable conditions, no matter the point of sail, so reducing the distance traveled seemed important. It also seemed like crossing the gap in the breeze south to get into the top of the trades and make more easting while they were still light before turning south for the final run seemed like a good trade-off. Well, that didn’t work out. PredictWind was off by 10-20* on how far from the south the wind was coming so we were on a much tighter reach and the reenforced trades much stronger with much larger waves than anything in the model. Next time I’ll go farther east.

Observations in no particular order:
  • Stuff that seems cool coastally, often doesn’t work offshore. For example I had the yard put a cool bungie and fitting to hold my pole on the mast only to find that the big waves of the Gulf Stream knocked it off, so I had to go forward to put it back in place twice, only the second time being smart enough to bring a sail tie. It now stays tied.
  • Every vent on the boat that didn’t fully close, and even those that did, leaked.
  • Vetus dorades are useless with green water on the deck
  • Boat needs more handholds. I’m wondering where is the best place to get them added.
  • Being able to download weather twice a day is a great boon, but must be taken with a grain of salt. They are not as accurate as advertised and often do not fully integrate local conditions. For example they consistently forecast low over the gulf stream and in the trades. The error on the wind direction cost me.
  • The one piece of marine gear that did what was on the label was the windvane.
  • Watching my newish main and brand new genoa slowly blow out is sad.
  • I have 400+ watts of solar on board. Plenty when at anchor but when sailing, something is always getting in the way. Clouds, sails, wrong tack, wrong heading…etc… At night, running lights, instruments and chartplotter pull 2.5A. Fridge pulls 6.7A when cycling. Each i-device pulls about 2A. A laptop can pull 3-4A. It’s be nice to have more power.
  • The ability to have more motoring range would be nice; I just can’t stand having so many jerry cans on deck.
  • Fridge needs more insulation. Even after turning down the temp the duty cycle is 80%
  • I’m not sure what to do about my pointing ability, but my tacking angles suck. The genoa is new and nicely shaped. I have in-board leads. I think my new forestay was cut a little too long and I have too much headstay sag. I already took up what I could on the turnbuckle on my furler (already a questionable thing to do - mess with a turnbuckle you can’t see and don’t fully understand just before a long offshore trip). I might get some moveable genoa leads to help with shape when it’s furled.
  • In-line galley suck offshore
Hors-du-Combat
  • One fire extinguisher bracket by my ass because I fell on it. See handholds
  • Vang attachment point on the mast. Screws backed out. I screwed them back in but the fitting is flexing and making bad noises.
  • Stitching on one mainsail slide. Glad I had my Sailmaker’s Apprentice on board. Simple and quick repair.
  • One Quebec flag lost overboard (replaced by yellow Costco Kirkland Microfiber Cloth)
  • One shroud deck leak
  • Two portlight leaks. Maybe three.
  • Fuel sender leak
  • Everything is wet
By the numbers:
  • According to the log book we sailed 1,437nmi. We left the dock on Nov 13th, were abeam the Beaufort Inlet Lighted Buoy around 15:43 and arrived at the MoA outside Jolly Harbor around 12:06 and tied up to the customs dock in Antigua at 13:00 Nov 24th. If I’ve done my maths right that’s 260.25hrs at an average speed of 5.5kts. That's pretty close to Estars formula I think...
  • We used only 23G of diesel, none of the reserves and only half the tank. I probably could have been more aggressive with motoring.
  • We used 30G of water out of 115. That included cooking, washing and eating for two. We took at least one full shower and most nights had a sponge bath to avoid too much salt in the bunks. Could have been a bit more free with the water.
  • Still have a lot of food on-board including veggies.
  • Most common sail configuration was one reef in the main and a full genoa. The windvane seemed to like that.
  • Windvane drove almost the entire trip with the exception of the Gulf Stream and the last 10 miles or so.
Anyway, I'm feeling a bit like the dog that finally caught the car. I'm here. Now what? :D
Rest, clean the boat, and fix things. that's the fundamental story offshore cruising.

For the record, you did a really good job.

Things on a boat that work fine for coastal sailing may not cut the mustard offshore. Your pole retainer on the mast is a classic here. If you have a Forespar-type semi-flexible u-shaped retainer, you now recognize that you need to put a sail tie around the mast offshore. That's a lesson we all learn on our first serious offshore trip with that setup.

Lesson here: sail ties are your friend. Carry a lot of them. I used to leave a half-dozen semi-secured to the side of the companionway ladder, or hanging just behind it on the foul weather gear hanging bar if I was worried about them being in the way.

One important thing to remember is "sail the wind you have, not the wind you think you should have." With seemingly-precision forecasting tools such as Predictwind--not singling them out, they generally do a decent job--we sometimes forget that we are sailing in a micro-environment offshore, and wind forecasting models are macro tools.

I've seen this first hand in racing to Bermuda over the years, where boats I can see around me may be sailing in more or less wind, at significantly different angles than mine.

There is no such thing as too many handholds on a boat. Even on my powerboat, I have two sets of overhead rails running the full length of the deckhouse overhead. Caveat: make sure that everything you might grab onto offshore is up to the strain.

Power consumption while sailing 24 hours a day is sometimes dramatically higher than you anticipate it will be, even with all-LED lighting. This is especially true in rough conditions, when the autopilot may be working hard. The big power hogs are instruments, computers, but most of all, electric refrigeration and the autopilot.

On my last boat, even with an engine-driven primary refrigeration system, we drew between 150-200 amp hours at 12 volts daily offshore, and ran the main engine twice a day for charging, since it was our only source of charging. This was before widespread LED use, although our masthead tricolor had an LED retrofit just before we left.

We had a big Whitlock motor suitable for a boat up to about 55' driving the autopilot on our 40 footer. It was overkill, but I never regretted the choice. It drew about 100 amp hours daily on any passage that was not light-air sailing in a steady sea state. But it did the job.

We used our Monitor windvane exclusively on our first "real" offshore passage on our last boat. That trip involved some fairly serious upwind sailing in crappy conditions. The safety tube just below the lower unit hinge broke at one point, as it is designed to do if overloaded. Even if you use a windvane for primary steering, a good autopilot is an essential backup for most of us.

Keeping water out of the boat is a challenge. I built my own dorade boxes, and had big cowl vents. I had screw-in deckplates with o-rings on the inside, on the underside of the deck. As long as I remembered to put those in, we never got water through them.

The only thing on deck that ever leaked--mind you, this was a new boat, so there was no excuse for a leak--was a Nicro Fico solar exhaust vent over the galley. We took a big breaking wave over the deckhouse, accompanied by a knock-down, and took a shot of water through that vent. Fortunately, the water stayed in the deckhouse, and didn't get down into the main part of the boat.

On our boat, we had a rule that no wet gear got further inside the boat than the small deckhouse which housed the galley, nav station, and quarterberth. We had a place to hang wet gear under the bridgedeck just aft of the companionway ladder. Even if you had to go forward to use the head, wet gear came off.

This is a rule that is a lot easier to enforce with only two people on the boat.

You may not feel like it, but clean up and wash down as much of the interior as possible as soon as possible, and air out all the soft goods that got wet. (Don't leave those on deck with the boat unattended. It rains with near-zero warning in the Caribbean and most of the tropics worldwide.)

Anyhow, you have learned a lot of good lessons. You had a fairly tough passage, and got through it in good form. Well done.
 
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slug zitski

Super Anarchist
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worldwide
A shake down cruise always highlights weak detailing

on the US east coast the classic shakedown is to bermuda..a real ocean passage

then return to your home town and tighten up the boat

one of the most difficult lessons of seamanship to learn is…how and when to sail slow

nothing breaks , leaks, when you are going slow

if you are in Antigua be aware that the shipyard at the Cat club in Falmouth has small keel pits…perfect for a rudder drop without all the travel lifting hassle , hole digging

keep a sharp eye on your steering gear

concerning weather…I’ve never used predict wind

it been my experience that it’s devilishly difficult to forecast tropical weather

even the best models, sensors, supercomputers can’t seem to track, predict a hurricane
 
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Zonker

Super Anarchist
10,182
6,376
Canada
Good passage and lots of lessons to take in. Glad you're in one piece, if a bit soggy.

On our very first passage it was very rough and we had to cross the Gray's Harbor WA bar with 15' breaking surf either side and 2 USCG self-righting tenders in front and astern of us, escorting us in. I hadn't slept well for 3 days and was way too wired to fall asleep - so my wife gave me a big glass of brandy and some cold medicine. Drugging your husband is OK in this situation. Slept like the dead for 10 hours.

After that, we always seemed to arrive early mornings so it was a big brekkie of eggs and hashbrowns and sometimes even the bacon if we were lucky. Then if a new country it was off to find customs and immigration, a bank, a SIM card and maybe a grocery store or restaurant for dinner or lunch. Usually we had enough sleep so we were not tired.

I have not sailed offshore with a chart plotter. I either used a small handheld GPS and manually plotted our chart on paper (first voyage and 1/2 RTW) or used a tablet. Far from land the tablet would get turned on for 20 seconds every 15 or so minutes to see what sort of direction we were making. It would then go to sleep. I don't see the need to have a chart plotter on either if it can grab a fix quickly.

I guess it's sometimes nice to know current and average speeds but I've gotten so that I can look over the side and guess speed within 0.1-0.2 knots. Its a useful party trick that impresses crew. Maybe you can keep the chart plotter off sometimes and see if it needs to be on 24/7.

I’m not sure what to do about my pointing ability, but my tacking angles suck. The genoa is new and nicely shaped.
Offshore with waves your tacking angles will diminish compared to flatter water. It's normal unless its >100 degrees, then you should worry.
 

monkphunk

Member
67
43
Thanks for posting this write up, @Elegua. Congratulations! I admire what you have done and hope to learn a bit vicariously from your experiences.

Fridge needs more insulation. Even after turning down the temp the duty cycle is 80%
You might also confirm that it isn't undercharged. We had this symptom when we first got our boat. It kept up fine in Maine but got progressively worse as we headed south to Florida and the Bahamas. It was a bit nerve wracking but not too hard to add a small bit of refrigerant. (This was a Seafrost system that uses r-134a; easy to source as it is used in car AC systems). The clue was that only a tiny part of the plate was frosting.
 

Bryanjb

Super Anarchist
4,464
274
Various
You did great! If you're in Antigua mid December we'll buy you a beer!

After three trips to the Caribbean I'm a firm believer in picking a window and sailing to Bermuda from the Hampton area (3~4 days). Then wait for the next window and drop down to the Caribbean (4~6 days). Getting directly to the Caribbean from the east coast can be a tough passage in November. Tough to make it in one weather window.
 

slug zitski

Super Anarchist
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Those on passage this week will have a tedious trip

78270C2A-6484-43B1-9119-6237A583507E.png
 

Elegua

Generalissimo
You did great! If you're in Antigua mid December we'll buy you a beer!

After three trips to the Caribbean I'm a firm believer in picking a window and sailing to Bermuda from the Hampton area (3~4 days). Then wait for the next window and drop down to the Caribbean (4~6 days). Getting directly to the Caribbean from the east coast can be a tough passage in November. Tough to make it in one weather window.
I don’t know what our plans are. I think we might do Christmas in Martinique or Guadalupe. If we’re here I’d love to catch up. Missed you last year in Maine
 

Elegua

Generalissimo
Good passage and lots of lessons to take in. Glad you're in one piece, if a bit soggy.

On our very first passage it was very rough and we had to cross the Gray's Harbor WA bar with 15' breaking surf either side and 2 USCG self-righting tenders in front and astern of us, escorting us in. I hadn't slept well for 3 days and was way too wired to fall asleep - so my wife gave me a big glass of brandy and some cold medicine. Drugging your husband is OK in this situation. Slept like the dead for 10 hours.

After that, we always seemed to arrive early mornings so it was a big brekkie of eggs and hashbrowns and sometimes even the bacon if we were lucky. Then if a new country it was off to find customs and immigration, a bank, a SIM card and maybe a grocery store or restaurant for dinner or lunch. Usually we had enough sleep so we were not tired.

I have not sailed offshore with a chart plotter. I either used a small handheld GPS and manually plotted our chart on paper (first voyage and 1/2 RTW) or used a tablet. Far from land the tablet would get turned on for 20 seconds every 15 or so minutes to see what sort of direction we were making. It would then go to sleep. I don't see the need to have a chart plotter on either if it can grab a fix quickly.

I guess it's sometimes nice to know current and average speeds but I've gotten so that I can look over the side and guess speed within 0.1-0.2 knots. Its a useful party trick that impresses crew. Maybe you can keep the chart plotter off sometimes and see if it needs to be on 24/7.


Offshore with waves your tacking angles will diminish compared to flatter water. It's normal unless its >100 degrees, then you should worry.
Two up, we never felt overly tired, even though my crew was a novice. I got plenty of sleep. Last morning we celebrated with a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and some hash browns. I gave up coffee as an offering to Murphy and so waited until I arrived.

I don’t really have a chart plotter. I have an raspberry pi running at the nav station with OpenCPN running on it. Very low draw. I use a tablet close to shore.

The boat does prefer to be footed off, say 50*. If we’re doing less than 5kts we can’t get through the waves.

Watching England US at the bar. We’re playing much better than in the past.
 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
10,182
6,376
Canada
The boat does prefer to be footed off, say 50*. If we’re doing less than 5kts we can’t get through the waves.
Yeah, we found that sort of thing with our first boat. We'd reef too much and in big swell troughs the boat would just lose way. We had to stay powered up even if it heeled the boat more than we would have liked for comfort.
 

bgytr

Super Anarchist
5,082
689
Ok, after a nice hot shower, a beer, a good meal at a local restaurant (no dishes, yay!) and I night’s rest, I’m procrastinating on cleaning up a soggy boat. There are a lot of thoughts running around my head right now and squeezing those thoughts out through a pen (or keyboard) has always been a fraught exercise, so please bear with me. There is a lot that is new to me, so I appreciate any input where I'm not thinking it through correctly.

First, thanks to everyone who helped out with either advice on weather, driving us around, finding machine shops, hosting us on your dock: it really made a difference to being able to complete this voyage successfully. So thank you so very, very much. I hope to be able to pay it forward some day. It's not a big trip in the larger scheme of things; 100+ other boats just did the same passage with the Salty Dog, but it was our first on our own.

I felt there were a lot of moving parts to this trip, so to make things simpler, I tried to break the voyage up into three parts: 1) Get through the Gulf Stream without breaking things, 2) Get south and east enough to avoid all the nasty weather coming off the US East Coast and set ourselves up to cross the trades 3) Get across the trades.

The plan for the first step was to hit a gate to the SE of Cape Lookout and then cross the Gulf Stream at a COG of 105*. Since the Gulf Stream at Hatteras runs 050*T, you get a 1-2kt boost crossing. The forecast NW of 15-20kts was at the high-end, but seemed doable.

Well, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The first part crossing the Gulf Stream was honestly a bit of an eye opener. The forecast was for 15-20 of of the NW, moving N overnight. The lumpy seas outside of Beaufort only hinted at what was to come. I was feeling a bit mal de mere so I put in a double reef early so I wouldn't have to put one in later. We got to the north wall of the Gulf Stream just after dark and it was like switching a light. As soon as the depth went past 400' breeze came up to 20-25 gusts to 35 out of the N-NW and the stream stood up 12' disordered waves with a 5-7sec interval. Big, tall, confused and bumpy. The moon was up so I could just barely see the waves - like silvery moving mountains. Probably for the best that the view wasn’t perfectly clear as for the first 10 minutes I just kept repeating -"Holy Sh*t". Probably not a great move for crew morale. It was an awe inspiring show put on by mother nature. Water temp was about 80*F, the spray was warm. Gusts from some of the squalls was also warm. The boat did great. We hand steered. I had the boat set-up with a double reefed main (which is like a third reef - about 36% reduction is luff length) and the stay-sail. With the board down just a couple of turns, we were doing 6-7kts through the water, 8-9 over the bottom with the current. The helm was light, we were heeled less that 20 degrees and while there was a lot of movement - this 24k boat was really getting moved around, it wasn't super uncomfortable. After the first 20-30 miles things calmed down a bit, but it was still very lumpy. Having the companionway hatch board in saved us from a wave that rudely tried to sneak aboard. In hindsight this crossing was a mistake. I probably pushed a bit too hard and should have waited for better conditions. It worked the boat hard – new leaks and creaks. The boat probably has never been worked that hard in its life. Now I have to put my crap boat repair skilz into use.

Once through the Gulf Stream on Port tack we wanted to get away from the East Coast as there was some energy coming up from Florida and it was going to form another compression zone against a trof sitting in the Bahamas, so we kept on Port tack getting progressively headed until we were headed SW. It was hard to resist the temptation to tack, especially when you see your easting start to get away from you, but it was supposed to veer if you got south as the weather from Florida came north. We tacked on to starboard around 9pm of the third day.

The time we spent on starboard going east was the best sailing of the trip. Better, warmer weather once we got below 32N, the waves stood down a bit and steady reaching breezes. We caught a mahi that was delicious. Quite a contrast to the cold and bumpy first couple of days.

When to turn south and cross the trades was the big question and this is where we made a big mistake. I had several conflicting thoughts: 1) I felt didn’t have enough fuel for extended motoring, so I wanted to stay in a good windfield. 2) The wind to the north and east didn’t seem that great and far away. The gap to the winds farther south seemed closer. 3) We’re a slow boat that does 5-6kts, maybe 7kts in favorable conditions, no matter the point of sail, so reducing the distance traveled seemed important. It also seemed like crossing the gap in the breeze south to get into the top of the trades and make more easting while they were still light before turning south for the final run seemed like a good trade-off. Well, that didn’t work out. PredictWind was off by 10-20* on how far from the south the wind was coming so we were on a much tighter reach and the reenforced trades much stronger with much larger waves than anything in the model. Next time I’ll go farther east.

Observations in no particular order:
  • Stuff that seems cool coastally, often doesn’t work offshore. For example I had the yard put a cool bungie and fitting to hold my pole on the mast only to find that the big waves of the Gulf Stream knocked it off, so I had to go forward to put it back in place twice, only the second time being smart enough to bring a sail tie. It now stays tied.
  • Every vent on the boat that didn’t fully close, and even those that did, leaked.
  • Vetus dorades are useless with green water on the deck
  • Boat needs more handholds. I’m wondering where is the best place to get them added.
  • Being able to download weather twice a day is a great boon, but must be taken with a grain of salt. They are not as accurate as advertised and often do not fully integrate local conditions. For example they consistently forecast low over the gulf stream and in the trades. The error on the wind direction cost me.
  • The one piece of marine gear that did what was on the label was the windvane.
  • Watching my newish main and brand new genoa slowly blow out is sad.
  • I have 400+ watts of solar on board. Plenty when at anchor but when sailing, something is always getting in the way. Clouds, sails, wrong tack, wrong heading…etc… At night, running lights, instruments and chartplotter pull 2.5A. Fridge pulls 6.7A when cycling. Each i-device pulls about 2A. A laptop can pull 3-4A. It’s be nice to have more power.
  • The ability to have more motoring range would be nice; I just can’t stand having so many jerry cans on deck.
  • Fridge needs more insulation. Even after turning down the temp the duty cycle is 80%
  • I’m not sure what to do about my pointing ability, but my tacking angles suck. The genoa is new and nicely shaped. I have in-board leads. I think my new forestay was cut a little too long and I have too much headstay sag. I already took up what I could on the turnbuckle on my furler (already a questionable thing to do - mess with a turnbuckle you can’t see and don’t fully understand just before a long offshore trip). I might get some moveable genoa leads to help with shape when it’s furled.
  • In-line galley suck offshore
Hors-du-Combat
  • One fire extinguisher bracket by my ass because I fell on it. See handholds
  • Vang attachment point on the mast. Screws backed out. I screwed them back in but the fitting is flexing and making bad noises.
  • Stitching on one mainsail slide. Glad I had my Sailmaker’s Apprentice on board. Simple and quick repair.
  • One Quebec flag lost overboard (replaced by yellow Costco Kirkland Microfiber Cloth)
  • One shroud deck leak
  • Two portlight leaks. Maybe three.
  • Fuel sender leak
  • Everything is wet
By the numbers:
  • According to the log book we sailed 1,437nmi. We left the dock on Nov 13th, were abeam the Beaufort Inlet Lighted Buoy around 15:43 and arrived at the MoA outside Jolly Harbor around 12:06 and tied up to the customs dock in Antigua at 13:00 Nov 24th. If I’ve done my maths right that’s 260.25hrs at an average speed of 5.5kts. That's pretty close to Estars formula I think...
  • We used only 23G of diesel, none of the reserves and only half the tank. I probably could have been more aggressive with motoring.
  • We used 30G of water out of 115. That included cooking, washing and eating for two. We took at least one full shower and most nights had a sponge bath to avoid too much salt in the bunks. Could have been a bit more free with the water.
  • Still have a lot of food on-board including veggies.
  • Most common sail configuration was one reef in the main and a full genoa. The windvane seemed to like that.
  • Windvane drove almost the entire trip with the exception of the Gulf Stream and the last 10 miles or so.
Anyway, I'm feeling a bit like the dog that finally caught the car. I'm here. Now what? :D
Thanks for the report, valuable info, and thanks for putting it together while freshin mind.
Do you have a hydraulic backstay adjuster? Makes a big difference in pointing ability to be able to crank that down and take out the headstay sag. Worth at least 5 degrees in point. I had one installed this past winter, and can make my ORR polars upwind on the dot now.
 

Elegua

Generalissimo
Thanks for the report, valuable info, and thanks for putting it together while freshin mind.
Do you have a hydraulic backstay adjuster? Makes a big difference in pointing ability to be able to crank that down and take out the headstay sag. Worth at least 5 degrees in point. I had one installed this past winter, and can make my ORR polars upwind on the dot now.
I have a Harken/Barbarossa. mechanical adjuster. I have a loose gauge and feel I keep the rig tensioned as tight as I can for a boat with this level (lack of) of rigidity. I have at least 3-4” inches of pre-bend.. When the shelves separate from the bulkhead I stop .
 

estarzinger

Super Anarchist
7,685
1,088
I cannot talk to your particular boat design - but we were surprised at how much power (& heel) Hawk wanted to punch thru offshore waves upwind. We had been told to 'sail her pretty flat' and that was great for reaching, but for punching thru waves she wanted 20 degrees of heel and once when we had to make progress upwind in a gale offshore with particularly nasty waves (in order to get to port before an actual storm) she needed to be power up with up to 25 degrees of heel in the gusts. That was the one time when both Beth and I were seasick, the motion was terrible, but damn did she sail well (she had a good 'performance' keel and always excellent sails). We were the only cruising boat among a fleet of 6 (all 'serious' boats heading to Chile) that managed to get into port before the storm.

Often, when a cruising boat gets into this sort of situation, they simply foot off a bit toward the wind shift, or heave to and wait. Those are prudent things so long as there is no bad weather roaring up behind you. But occasionally there is just no other good thing to do than punch into it.
 
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Cruisin Loser

Super Anarchist
OK, you've had a couple of days off, gotta clean the boat before the wife arrives.

After one Marion-Bermuda the wife was flying in to do the return. The guys made a big deal of cleaning the boat, and they were waiting on the boat when Beth arrived. They pointed out all the details of the cleaning, Beth agreed and thanked them and they ran off to the bar for a well-deserved beverage.

As soon as they were headed up the dock Beth starts getting out cleaning supplies. She says "They got it guy clean, now I'm going to get it girl clean."

I joined the guys at the bar.
 

Elegua

Generalissimo
OK, you've had a couple of days off, gotta clean the boat before the wife arrives.

After one Marion-Bermuda the wife was flying in to do the return. The guys made a big deal of cleaning the boat, and they were waiting on the boat when Beth arrived. They pointed out all the details of the cleaning, Beth agreed and thanked them and they ran off to the bar for a well-deserved beverage.

As soon as they were headed up the dock Beth starts getting out cleaning supplies. She says "They got it guy clean, now I'm going to get it girl clean."

I joined the guys at the bar.
Fumigation, delousing and laundry in progress. The war against water and shmoo never stops.

And yes, she is going to re-do everything. Feels good to put most of the cold weather clothing into space saver bags. Then I'll go after the leaks. Joker valve needs replacement as well.

Interesting. I noticed a scratch on my anchor and then saw that the wood I used to chock it was crushed.

 
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accnick

Super Anarchist
3,545
2,548
Fumigation, delousing and laundry in progress. The war against water and shmoo never stops.

And yes, she is going to re-do everything. Feels good to put most of the cold weather clothing into space saver bags. Then I'll go after the leaks. Joker valve needs replacement as well.

Interesting. I noticed a scratch on my anchor and then saw that the wood I used to chock it was crushed.


Those look like really good sailing conditions. I'm guessing the day before arrival.
 

bgytr

Super Anarchist
5,082
689
I have a Harken/Barbarossa. mechanical adjuster. I have a loose gauge and feel I keep the rig tensioned as tight as I can for a boat with this level (lack of) of rigidity. I have at least 3-4” inches of pre-bend.. When the shelves separate from the bulkhead I stop .
Ya I get that. I pump my backstay up until the companionway hatch starts to bind a little when I close it, which is about 2200 on the backstay gage.
Also my point is adversely affected when I have a reef in the headsail, so I usually reef the main first and hold a full headsail and move the lead aft to depower until I really need to roll it up some. When reaching, I'll reef the headsail sooner as I don't worry about the shape as much for pointing.
 

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