Saturday, September 29, 2018
Saint Michaels is crowded on this fine day. Although the temperature is in the low 70s, there a sense of fall in the air and everyone knows there may not be many more such weekends this year.
On my way to the tiny grocery/liquor store, I passed a rack of tee-shirts, one of which read: With a body like this, who needs hair?
The other grin came from a comment from sail2surf about the second Hilton Head to Chesapeake Bay video: informative and entertaining, soaking wet, minimal sleep and exhaustion, unable to eat much, constant motion and having to stay on top of navigation, wind and weather changes as well as potential collision with other vessels. If that’s not the definition of fun I don’t know what is! Bravo!
I uploaded three more Hilton Head to Chesapeake Bay videos this morning. I had a fourth, but YouTube kept claiming I had already uploaded it. If so, I can’t find it. The world will have to struggle with the loss. There are no more about this short passage.
Friday, September 28, 2018
A lovely day here after a couple of rainy ones. Cool enough for an hour or two after dawn that I dug out a fleece. First time I have wanted more than a tee-shirt in months.
I had to move GANNET because a wedding reception is being held near where she was. They set up tents. I don’t get expensive weddings or funerals.
I walked around town today and had an ice cream cone. Also tested the video equipment in the room where I am due to speak next Tuesday and Saturday. More testing Monday.
I have uploaded a video taken the first day out of Hilton Head. It took hours to upload. I have four more. Perhaps I’ll try to upload another over night.
About to go on deck for my evening ritual.
An article in the NY TIMES this morning about Yo-Yo Ma trying to save the world with Bach caused me to buy his third and most recent recording of the Bach Cello Suites.
I have other recordings by Casals and Starker.
There is no such thing as too much Bach.
I listened to the first three this morning.
The last three are coming up in a few minutes.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
As is known, when I start sailing I like to keep going.
My initial intention was to daysail the roughly one hundred miles north in Chesapeake Bay to Saint Michael’s, Maryland. I didn’t. I did it in one thirty-three hour bite. That sail started at the dot just above and to the left of Cape Charles in the above Yellowtrack image.
This wasn’t a passage, so this isn’t a passage log. I don’t know what it is and labels aren’t essential anyway.
I slept well last night, having to get up twice to adjust dock lines.
Overcast this morning and pleasantly cool.
Before breakfast I imposed order on chaos and GANNET is again livable in semi-passage mode.
I have email to catch up with and then look forward to exploring Saint Michaels.
I woke at 6:00 to a starry sky and light east wind.
I raised the mainsail and then the anchor. Anchor up at 6:20 and, after I unfurled the jib, we were gliding southeast at 3 knots.
We had to sail southeast for 5 miles to clear Mobjack Bay.
I tacked at 7:45 and we sailed 030º until we cleared the interestingly named Wolf Trap Light and could fall off to 000º.
For a while the wind was 12 knots and GANNET was sailing at 6, but gradually the wind has fallen to 6 and 7 knots and our speed to 4-4.5. Seas almost smooth. Bright sunshine, though thunderstorms are possible for this afternoon.
I saw several dolphin earlier. A tug towing a barge passed heading south.
Sailing with hatches open.
In addition to the automatic Yellowbrick updates every six hours I am sending manual updates from time to time to show our track more accurately.
1 p.m. The wind has continued to veer to the southeast and weaken. Now less than 5 knots.
An hour ago I decided to set the G2. It was a huge hassle. I had not used the sail since sometime last year. The lower drum was frozen. I managed to unfreeze it, raised the furling gear and the sail refused to unfurl. I lowered the furling gear. Found all parts that ought to move to be moving freely. Raised the furling gear. Sail unfurled about one quarter. I looked aloft to see if the spinnaker halyard was fouled. It wasn’t. I went forward and turned the drum by hand, unfurling the bottom third of the sail. However the top two-thirds remained furled. I went back to the cockpit and pumped the sheet in and out. Finally the sail unfurled completely. I conclude that it simply had been furled too tightly for too long. Stronger wind probably would have unfurled it.
The end products of my efforts were a lot of sweat pouring off my body and a gain of about a knot, from 3 to 4.
We have about six hours of daylight left. There is a full moon. I don’t yet know what I’m going to do tonight.
3:45 p.m. The wind was very light, only 4 and 5 knots, and our speed dropped to below 3 knots. I came up 10º to give us a slightly better angle, which brought us back above 3 knots. In the last ten minutes the wind has increased and we are now making 5 knots.
I wanted to be certain I can furl the G2, so I tried. The sail furled. I let it back out. It unfurled as it should.
I still don’t know what I am going to do tonight. Just over three hours until sunset.
4:10 As I finished typing the last entry, the wind leapt from 5 knots to 15 due to clouds to windward that may turn into something. I successfully furled the G2 and got it below. We are now making 5.8 under main alone, but with the wind so far aft I am concerned about an accidental gybe. I have put a preventer on the boom, but will probably lower the main and sail under jib alone.
4:25 Main down. Sailing under jib. 4.7 knots.
Much less traffic as we move north. No more ships. Two or three power boats and the same number of sailboats, all motorsailing with only main up.
Structures on Tangier Island, of which I’ve read in books about crabbing, visible 5 miles east of us.
5:00 pm Rain and a partial rainbow to the east. The five mile wide mouth of the Potomac River to the west.
Mainsail back up. It has been a busy hour. Our speed dropped to below 3 knots. I’ve come up 10º to get a better wind angle. Speed 3.3.
6:20 pm I thought sunset was about 7:00, but the sun is not far above the horizon now.
Six pelicans flew past in line. Ismael Lo is singing, ‘L’Amour a Tout Les Droits’ with which if I translate the French correctly, I certainly agree. A sliver of rainbow far to the east. Over the ocean I believe, beyond the peninsula. GANNET is two miles west of Smith Island, making 4.5 knots in 24’ of water. I believe it is going to be a lovely full moon night and I am going to sail on for a while and maybe all night. If the wind dies I can anchor in place. I read that the average depth of Chesapeake Bay is 21’/6.4 meters.
I may be able to snatch some sleep. If not I’ll do without, heave to, or anchor.
September 26, Wednesday
6 a.m. I sailed through the night. Very light wind, making only 2 and 3 knots. The full moon was largely obscured by overcast. Five ships passed, none close, heading south. I managed to doze sitting at Central. I set alarms on my iPhone several times, but always woke before they went off.
We still have about 25 or 30 miles to go. St. Michaels is on the east side of a peninsula, so we have to round the north end and then come back south five miles.
The forecast is for a cold front, rain and strong wind tonight. I hope I am at St. Michaels before that happens.
8:30 Finally moving. 2.4 knots. Not much, but better than 0.7 which is what we have been making the past two hours.
11:15 Wind went directly astern and we were able to sail wing and wind for a while. Now it has backed SSE and we are making 3.4 knots on a starboard broad reach. Almost to Poplar Island beyond which we turn NE for eight or nine miles, before a final, twisting 5 miles south to St. Michaels.
I put the Torqeedo on the stern. It started. I removed the tiller arm so I could tilt the shaft out of the water. I don’t want the drag or sound of the prop spinning as we sail.
So far a sunny day. Four other sailboats came out from behind Poplar island.
Wednesday evening. I tied to a dock at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum at 3:40 this afternoon.
Good wind of 14-15 knots came as we neared and rounded Poplar Island which appears to be man made and still in the making. A crane on a floating platform, a barge full of rocks, and a tug boat blocked my intended course to the northeast after I cleared what had been the north end of Popular Island. I swung wide and GANNET made 6 and 7 knots for the 9 mile leg. Other boats were around, both power and sail.
I lowered the Torqeedo back into the water and reattached the tiller arm before we rounded the northern point for the five miles south to St. Michaels. With south wind, we were close hauled.
On the approach to St. Michaels there is a shoal that can be passed on either side, then a basin of deeper water, followed by a narrow channel into the harbor. At its narrowest point it is only 88 yards/80 meters wide. With the wind right on the nose, that would have required more short tacks than a sleepless old man wanted, so I sailed only around the first shoal. With sun glaring on the water, I found it difficult to locate marker buoys and the iNavX in the iPhone was invaluable. I followed the right courses on the chartplotting software, also watching the depthsounder, and the buoys eventually appeared where they were supposed.
My initial impression of St. Michaels is that it is an exceptionally nice nautically oriented place. Those I have met thus far at the Maritime Museum have been very welcoming and friendly.
I have had a hot shower. Excellent. A crab cake sandwich. O.K. And a margarita. Excellent.
I am about to pour some air temperature Plymouth and hope for a deep night’s sleep, though often after passages, even one as short as this, the first night is transitional.
As always after sailing GANNET for even a few days, the land persists in moving under me for a while.
GANNET’s interior is a disaster, in anchoring, passage, harbor mode all at once, which can also be described as chaos. I will deal with it tomorrow.
As nearly as I can determine we sailed about 100 miles from the anchorage at Mobjack Bay to St. Michaels. That is what I am going to call it.
While I was drinking Michael’s gin—that is what friends are for—lighting, thunder and heavy rain descended on us. This was forecast and was motivation for my all nighter. I wanted to beat it and I did.
Raining still, but not as hard. Wavelets lapping at GANNET.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Wind just gusted 23 knots, the highest reading I have seen since anchoring Saturday afternoon. Low overcast sky. So far we have not had much rain. A heavy band may reach us this afternoon. I am looking forward to being underway tomorrow morning in forecast 10-15 knot southeast wind.
In the passage log I use the expression ‘brutal beauty’. I am not falling into the pathetic fallacy. I know the ocean is not capable of brutality or cruelty or treachery. But the conditions were brutal and beautiful and as a writer I like the combination of words.
Also, as can be deduced from the log but which I want to make explicit, to my surprise and pleasure one Raymarine tiller pilot steered the entire way despite getting wet in rain and spray. All three of my Raymarines were repaired under warranty recently. Is it possible they have found a way to seal them more effectively or was this just a fluke?
Hilton Head Island to Chesapeake Bay passage log
September 17, Monday
North Atlantic Ocean
0720 Pushed GANNET from her slip at dawn. Light south wind.
0900 I used the Torqeedo to power clear of the marina. Set main and jib within first two hundred yards. Cut Torqeedo, but our SOG dropped to below 2 and I wanted to get clear of Skull Creek before the tide turned against us at 0900, so I turned the Torqeedo back on and we motorsailed at 3 knots. Just short of the creek entrance we got slightly better wind and I turned off the Torqeedo, removed it and stowed it below.
1100 Out in Port Royal Sound the wind increased to 20 apparent and GANNET pounded into short choppy waves.
I held starboard tack as long as I could, then tacked to port for a mile or so, tacked back short of a line of breakers on a shoal, held port the rest of the way, though I had to hand steer for a mile thorough shallow water with more almost breaking 3’ waves. At 1030 we were finally able to ease sheets. And a few minutes ago even more. Now making 6 knots on a beam reach toward a waypoint off the entrance to the shipping channel into Charleston.
Dark clouds over the ocean at dawn burned away with the sun as I expected they would. Now mostly sunny and blue sky.
A shackle holding one of the blocks on the boom vang broke. I found a spare and replaced it.
Also the remotes are not working for either the Raymarine or the Pelagic.
day’s run 16 miles COG 070º SOG 6.4
We sailed more than the 16 straight line miles back to Skull Creek, but that is how I measure it.
Hot and steamy in the Great Cabin.
GANNET is heeled 20º-30º, which makes life difficult. I am wedged in with cushions at Central. I’m going to partially furl the jib.
A waypoint off Cape Hatteras is 305 miles ahead, but not exactly in a straight line.
1330 After lunch of Laughing Cow cheese and crackers I furled the jib to half size. As I learned on the sail from Marathon to Hilton Head in more than 10-12 knots of wind, I can’t get the first wrap started without leading the furling line to a winch.
With the jib partially furled our speed increased to 7 knots, but the tiller pilot was working too hard so I put a reef in the mainsail. This has us at a reasonable angle of heel and the tiller pilot working less, but we feel undercanvased so I will let out some jib.
Hot, sweaty work.
1800 We have averaged six knots since noon and may have a good day’s run. Not as excellent sailing as I had expected if the wind were further south, but still good.
During the last hour the wind has decreased to 14-16 knots and the waves are a bit less high.
I stood in the companionway for a while and then got soaked by a breaking wave. I do not want to create a distasteful image, but there is no reason to wear clothes on this passage thus far. They only instantly are soaked with sea water or sweat, so I am reduced to underpants and put on foul weather gear when I reefed the mainsail. Look away.
A half hour ago I poured tequila into a plastic tumbler and started to listen to Bach Inventions on the Boom 2s here in the Great Cabin. Still too risky on deck. The sun is too hot shining on Central—89º/31.6ºC—so I am sitting on the starboard pipe berth perpendicular to the center line with my feet braced on the port pipe berth. The tequila was chosen because it was the easiest to reach and is without a slice of lime. I have limes on board, but to cut one would demand excessive acrobatics.
I share my drink with my friend Michael who had a near fatal accident on a motor scooter two weeks ago. He has transitioned from Intensive Care to hospital room to rehab center. Since he can’t drink or walk, which is probably more important, I nobly drink for him.
We will be off the entrance to the Charleston shipping channel in two hours. Beyond that we can fall off the wind another ten degrees which should make sleeping easier tonight.
2030 The lights of nine ships were visible off Charleston.
All but one of which were west and inshore of me. The other was a concern until I saw her continue to the east. She had left the port and was heading across the Atlantic,
I am a specialist, designed to go out, not along. I can do along, and do not claim that to go out is in any way superior. Both take skills. I believe I am good at both, But I naturally seek space and emptiness and immeasurable depths. I like deep water. All the sailing I see before me, including the remaining six thousand miles of this circumnavigation is along rather than out. Even if GANNET and I are a hundred or more miles offshore, we will be along, not out,
I don’t know what to make of that.
I stoped writing and stood in the companionway. We are about to pass east of the last ship waiting to enter Charleston.
The moon has yet to rise,
Absolute blackness broken only by the yellow deck lights—I am too far away from the ships to see their running lights—and GANNETs masthead tricolor.
September 18, Tuesday
North Atlantic Ocean
0900 I’ve been up a couple of hours after a relatively easy night during which the wind veered south and the seas smoothed.
I saw a few ships running lights well to the east last night.
With the wind almost due astern, the main was blanketing the jib and causing it to collapse and fill, so I furled it at 0400.
This morning concerned about an accidental gybe, I lowered the main and set the full jib under which we are presently rolling along with wind and waves out of synch.
Yesterday evening I noticed that the Raymarine remote, which had shown “searching for network” for hours was displaying “Pilot”. I pushed some buttons and found it to be working.
20 knot wind at dawn has become less than 10 since the rain reached us and our SOG has dropped to 4 knots.
day’s run 135 miles COG 055º SOG 4.8
Rain stopped falling on us about 1000, though it rained to the east for another hour.
The wind veered a few degrees so I gybed to starboard and we are more in synch with the waves. The rain and clouds kept the day comfortable. Plus I have both hatches open, but the sun has burned away most of the cloud cover and it is getting warmer.
We are 33 miles offshore and 23 miles southwest of Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear.
I haven’t seen any ships today.
The Raymarine remote has stopped working.
Easy sailing, if not fast. I’d gladly have this continue indefinitely but the forecast before I left was for us to have 20 knot headwinds tomorrow.
1345 We are 29 miles due south of Cape Fear and in only 85’/26 meters of water. Frying Pan Shoals has depths as shallow as 3’/1 meter 10 miles from the shore. Considerably different big than four nights ago when Florence was here,
Pleasant sunny afternoon. Not too hot with breeze blowing in through the open companionway. My shoes, shorts, and a cushion are drying in the cockpit.
1915 Sunset setting to the southwest. Almost a half moon visible to the east. Billowing cumulus clouds over the land to the northwest.
I’ve been standing in the companionway off and on for the past two hours, sipping boxed red wine and listening to music, a shuffled playlist of film scores. I did come below to heat water for freeze dried Smoked Three Bean Chili, which was quite good, with a 3” diameter pecan pie which I happened across at Walmart on my last shopping expedition for dessert. It was scrumptious.
Around 1700 I gybed to port. The course is closer to the rhumb line to my Cape Hatteras waypoint. I have seen three ships today passing several miles east of us and this gybe will carry us farther away from them. And, if the last forecasts I saw before I sailed are accurate and the wind tomorrow will be 20 knots from the north, I want to get north while it is easy.
2045 After that quite logical explanation, the wind backed and I just gybed back to starboard, more or less on the rhumb line to Cape Hatteras waypoint. Lights on a ship far to the east of us. Continuous lightning all along the coast to the west.
September 19, Wednesday
North Atlantic Ocean
0900 I’ve been up two active hours. For that matter I was up much of the night and am tired,
I tried to go to sleep after making yesterday’s last log entry, but the light wind keep shifting and the jib collapsing, so repeatedly I went on deck to adjust tiller pilot or gybe the jib. On one such occasion near 2200 I noticed the sky was pitch black to the southwest and realized that the thunderstorms on shore were moving toward us. I barely had time to furl the jib to storm jib size before they hit with a brief burst of 20-30 knot wind, followed by heavy rain, thunder and lightning for a half hour. Some of the lightning was close. In the Great Cabin I could hear big drops of rain spllatting onto the deck.
When the rain eased, I went on deck in foul weather gear. The wind was less than five knots. Spectacular lightning flashed through the black sky several miles ahead. I unfurled the jib and adjusted our course, but for several hours there was too little wind to keep the jib full, I didn’t get to sleep until 0100 and then was on deck at least every hour until 0400 when finally there was enough wind to quiet the jib.
Lightning continued through the night with frequent flashes out to sea to the southeast. To the north I saw the loom of lights of Wilmington and Morehead City/Beaufort.
I woke at 0700 to find us sailing smoothly on a beam reach at 4 knots in 10 knots of wind from the NNW. I removed the reef from the main and raised it and we began making 6 knots.
Now at 0908 as I write, the wind has increased to 12-14 knots and veered north and we are on a close reach taking some water over the deck, although I have partially furled the jib.
I will be surprised if I don’t have a reef in the mainsail again soon.
day’s run 101 miles COG 055º SOG 5.8
The wind remains just forward of the beam and has decreased slightly to 12 knots. We could carry full sail, but I am tired and satisfied with our process in which GANNET is at a comfortable angle of heel and not much spray is reaching the companionway.
We are 6 miles from my way—-
I was abruptly stopped by a tremendous roar overhead. I saw nothing from the companionway. Presumably a military jet far away before the sound reached me.
We are 6 miles from the waypoint off Cape Lookout Shoal. 23 miles off Cape Lookout itself. 30 miles from Beaufort, NC.
The waypoint off Cape Hatteras is 78 miles ahead.
1230 It is crowded out here.
After lunch of Laughing Cow cheese and crackers with dried apricots for dessert, I stood in the companionway. I could still hear the military jet off to the south and a container ship was a few miles away, heading south.
Land always just beyond the western horizon. Ships often visible to the east. Jets flying overhead. This is not the monastery of the sea.
I noticed ahead of us a demarkation of water, a clear line between light blue and dark green. As we passed over it, our SOG immediately decreased by a knot. We had just left the Gulf Stream. Unwilling to sail at mostly 5 knots instead of 6, I let out the rest of the jib and we got our knot back.
Thus far since dawn this has been a fine sailing day. The 20 knots from the north forecast before I left Hilton Head have not materialized. I will be quite happy if they don’t.
1630 The wind has decreased steadily since mid-morning and is now 5 to 6 knots. In the past hour it has backed slightly to the NNW, GANNET is making 4 to 4.5 knots on a beam reach. The sky is pale blue and clear. It looks like high pressure, but the barometer is at 1013 and has dropped two millibars since yesterday,
Of the barometer, I have found that a barometer app in my iPhone has consistently been accurate to within a millibar when I have compared it with shore stations. I have always read barometers in millibars.
I gave myself a wipe down with paper towels, a little fresh water, and Wet Ones. I am already sweating and about to go on deck to take on needed liquids and listen to music.
2000 A half an hour ago the wind veered NNW to NE in a minute. The jib backed. The tiller pilot off course alarm came on. I went on deck and got us sorted out. The wind remained light.
We are now sailing east at 3.5 knots close hauled on port tack. This is taking us back out into the shipping. No ships in view at present. I am going to try to get some sleep. I expect further changes during the night.
2015 I proactively half furled the jib. Only a loss of .2 knot and a precaution against a surprise in the night.
Lovely at present. Silver light on the water from a gibbous moon to the south. Two planets in the sky astern. From their brightness I conclude Venus and Jupiter.
I hope I can get to sleep quickly.
2200 GANNET began to pound into and off waves. I got up and put a reef in mainsail and further furled the jib. No ships in sight.
I don’t know if I got to sleep. I’ll try now.
September 20, Thursday
North Atlantic Ocean
day’s run 98 COG 349º SOG 5.8
(The noon position was recorded handwritten in a notebook and typed into the log on Friday, September 21 because so much water was coming into the cabin on Thursday I did not dare to remove my MacBook from its waterproof case and we were being thrown about so much I couldn’t type anyway.)
September 21, Friday
North Atlantic Ocean
0740 Yesterday’s 20-25 knot wind diminished during the night as forecast. At midnight I unfurled the jib further and at 0400 I unfurled it completely. Because we are not going to make Cape Henry before dark, I just partially furled it again. I want a quiet, easy day.
My final words Wednesday about trying to get to sleep were futile. For the second successive night I didn’t get to sleep until after 0100 and then only in broken patches.
After 2200 the wind quickly increased to 20-25 knots from the NNE, heading us and forcing us to a course of 075º, heeled 30º and pounding into waves, which remained our condition for almost twenty-four hours.
Because so much water was coming over the deck, I decided to change from the Raymarine tiller pilot to the Pelagic. I made the transition. The Pelagic engaged. The remote even worked, as now inexplicably is the Raymarine remote. I went back below, removed my foul weather gear, got in the port pipe berth, abruptly realized that the Pelagic was making no sound, and was struggling from my berth when we gybed. Spontaneously the Pelagic had gone from Auto to Standby and stopped steering.
In my foul weather gear—and I did not go on deck without it until this morning—I went out, gybed back, got us on course, re-engaged the Pelagic again and waited for a few minutes until it again spontaneously went into Standby. I replaced it with the Raymarine, which to my surprise has continued to endure and is still steering.
I must confess to cheating. While I have long professed that when I go to sea I get no outside weather information. I look at the barometer. I look at the sea. I look at the sky. This sail from Hilton Head to the Chesapeake is not to me really going to sea, so I was curious to learn if I can get NOAA weather on my handheld VHF and to my surprise I can, even 30 to 40 miles offshore. Their forecasts have been accurate, including that the wind would diminish last night.
I needed it to. I was very tired. In addition to lack of sleep, yesterday was very physical. Every move had to be planned. Body braced every moment. And everything in the cabin wet, despite the spray hood. (I later discovered that the middle toggle securing the starboard side of the spray hood was broken which allowed the foot of the hood to rise and may explain why so much water reached the sliding hatch and came below.) My breakfast was a protein bar. Mixing my usual oatmeal and trail mix far too complicated. And my dinner was another protein bar. I did manage a can of chicken and crackers and dried apricots for lunch and ate a few handfuls of trail mix in the afternoon.
On deck a world of brutal beauty. Dark blue sea, white crested waves slamming into and over GANNET. Lighter blue sky. GANNET’s white deck and sails.
At times yesterday, GANNET was tearing along at 7 knots and our ETA at Cape Henry was dawn today. We sailed farther than yesterday’s day’s run because I tacked from port to starboard at dawn 35 miles ESE of Cape Hatteras. But we slowed last night and I got much needed sleep. Now the wind is about 10 knots, our speed only three, and we will not reach Cape Henry until after dark.
I want an easy, drying day. I’ll decide what to do when we near Cape Henry in order to enter the Chesapeake tomorrow morning.
0930 Everything is so easy today as yesterday it was not. Mixing my uncooked oatmeal, protein powder, trail mix and powdered milk, to shaving and brushing my teeth. None of which I did yesterday.
A ship swung past GANNET yesterday as we were smashing our way north through wind against Gulf Stream waves. I would like to have seen us from their perspective.
Also when we were a few miles north of Cape Hatteras where the Gulf Stream leaves the coast and flows out to sea, we must have been in a reverse vortex because for more than an hour our COG was 60º west of our heading. Eventually that ended and COG and heading resumed being about the same.
GANNET sailing smoothly, heeled 5º-10º to port. Lovely.
day’s run 89 miles COG 342º SOG 3.1 knots
The wind has diminished and veered to the east as predicted. Now 7 or 8 knots on the beam. We could go faster, but there is no point.
My waypoint off Cape Henry is 33 miles ahead, The two entrances through the roadway across the mouth of the Chesapeake are 12 miles farther. We are presently 13 miles off the Outer Banks.
Foul weather gear, food bags and cushions drying in the cockpit.
1945 I decided to heave to at sunset 14 miles south of Cape Henry. Several ships were in view and I do not want to wander into traffic.
In this light wind, I brought GANNET’s bow into the wind to come about and the boom fell off the mast. This happened once before in the Indian Ocean in the middle of the night. The nut comes off the bolt holding the boom to the mast fitting. I had used LockTite on that nut. Still it came off again. With minimal hassle I managed to get everything back together in these easy conditions. I even still had some daylight in which to work.
A rigger advised me to use a bolt instead of a Clevis pin at the gooseneck. It has been bad advice and I will return to a Clevis pin when I can obtain the right size.
Before trying to heave to I unreefed the mainsail, expecting that I will want the full sail when I head in and unreefing now is easier than during the night.
We are successfully hove to, making a little over a knot back out to sea with almost no apparent motion. I will try to get some sleep and decide during the night when to start sailing for the Chesapeake.
Loom of lights of Virginia Beach 13 miles away and beyond that Norfolk bright on the western horizon.
September 22, Saturday
North Atlantic Ocean
0130 I managed to get to sleep at around 2030. Set an alarm for midnight. Woke just before it went off and decided to wait a bit longer. Set an alarm for 0130 and woke again just before it went off. We were 20 miles from Cape Henry with 7 or 8 knots of wind from the SW. I went on deck. In bright moon light I untied the tiller, let GANNET gybe, settled her onto course 330º for the waypoint off Cape Henry, engaged the tiller pilot, and we started sailing in at 5 knots.
I counted the lights of at least nine ships milling around out there, waiting to enter port. Most were east of us. One to the southwest.
Though I thought I might try to go back to sleep for an hour, I didn’t, and instead read, ducked my head through the companionway to keep track of our neighbors, and ate my normal breakfast in hourly stages.
As we neared Cape Henry the wind slowly veered and increased to 12 to14 knots. Under full sail on a close reach GANNET was sailing fast, spray coming over the bow but not back to the companionway.
First light at about 0615 revealed land only a few miles away and a plethora of buoys, marking multiple shipping channels, regulation zones, and shoals significant to shipping but not GANNET.
There is a roadway across the mouth of the Chesapeake which goes into tunnels at two places to enable ships to pass. I headed for the northern one. According to the current tables in Aye Tides, we had a knot of current against us, but sailed through at 5 knots.
The integration of AyeTides, which is a separate app with a nominal cost that I no longer remember, with iNavX is very useful. If you have AyeTides, you need only tap on a tide icon in iNavX to get tide and sometime current information for that location. In my experience this has worked even for remote places in the world.
NOAA weather gave a Small Craft Advisory for the Chesapeake for Sunday and Monday with east wind 20 knots, gusting 30, 5’ waves, and rain.
The Chesapeake has countless fine anchorages, the majority of which are only accessible by long, narrow, twisty approach channels and therefore unreachable by GANNET. Studying the chart the only place I thought I could reach that day was Mobjack Bay on the west shore. Once clear of the bridge/tunnel, I put in a waypoint for which iNavX gave an ETA of noon. And then the music stopped.
The wind continued to veer and head us and then it died. Noon found us ten miles from Mobjack Bay.
day’s run 55 miles COG 280º SOG 1.8
Fortunately the wind came back in brief puffs and, tacking to try to find an angle, we struggled past the mouth of the York River of Revolutionary War fame, past buoys and markers. There are a lot of things to run into in the Chesapeake in addition to other boats, of which I saw few, and ships, of which there were at least nine anchored waiting for dock space.
I managed to duck below long enough to crawl across the bags on the v-berth and drag the anchor and rode bag back under the fore hatch.
1535 Anchor down Mobjack Bay.
At 1400 hours we finally entered Mobjack Bay, which is wide open to the south, but has protection from the north and east. I sailed in almost four miles before and anchoring in 14’ of water .6 of a mile off a shore of beautiful tall trees and a few scattered houses. I could have moved in a little closer, but not much. Water too shallow even for GANNET extends a long way from shorelines here as at Hilton Head and probably every where in between.
It has been a long and tiring day.
The interior is chaos. That will have to wait for another day.
I considered continuing this passage log until we reach St. Michaels, still a hundred miles to the north, but those will be all on deck miles and I doubt I will have time to write.
So, passage over.
504 miles. Some fine sailing. Some slow sailing. Brutal beauty. Three nights of little sleep. Not the monastery of the sea. But still sailing.