March 4, Saturday
1300 I half pushed GANNET out of her slip, climbed on board and engaged the ePropulsion outboard. I was delayed because when attaching the tiller arm to the shaft I discovered that the pin securing it to the shaft had partially striped threads. I tied thin nylon line through a hole in the end of the pin and around a fitting on the shaft to secure it in place.
Wind light from the northwest was heading us, so we continued under power around the long curve of Skull Creek. When the wind finally was free I unfurled the jib and we continued motor sailing at 3-4 knots until at 1500 I anchored in 38’ of water toward the middle of the sound.
I removed the outboard and brought it down below where I am charging the battery from the ship’s batteries. First time I have done that. Previously I’ve taken the battery to the condo to charge. In theory I could have left the outboard on the stern and it would have recharged itself as we sailed, but the idea of dragging a prop in the water for days is not appealing.
I just glanced at my watch. 1700.
After anchoring I had a 0 alcohol Heineken which was quite acceptable, but now it is time to go on deck and listen to some music and sip something stronger.
I’ll sail off the anchor and head offshore tomorrow morning.
March 5, Sunday
0820 Raised anchor. I had out 120’ of rode. The first 20’ chain, the rest ½” plaited nylon. The anchor came up clean as it always has in Port Royal Sound.
I lowered anchor and rode bag through the forward hatch and made my way aft where I partially unfurled the jib. The tide was going out and had turned the bow. I backed the jib, which spun GANNET around, gybed, trimmed the sail, and we were making six tide assisted knots on a close reach.
The morning was cool enough so that I was wearing Levis and a Polartec.
Once settled on course, I set the tiller pilot on auto and went below to stow the anchor and rode in the bow. This is a little more difficult in sailing mode crawling over waterproof bags, but it got done.
1030 We are two miles beyond the buoy marking the beginning of the entrance channel into the sound. Along this low coast you often have to go a long way out before you are free of the shoals. We are now in 45’ of water. The apparent wind is NE at 17 knots at an angle of 140º, so at least 20 knots true. 3’-4’ white capped waves are giving us a rolly ride. We continue under partially furled jib making 6-7 knots, which is enough. I set the port running backstay.
Earlier I saw a large sailboat father out heading south under power. Why they were not sailing on a day like this I do not know.
I just ate my uncooked oatmeal. I brought the last berries from the condo so had the pleasure of fresh fruit and being far enough off land to wash the measuring cup from which I eat and the spoon by leaning over the side and power rising them in the Atlantic.
31º 55’N 080º 35’W
COG 175º SOG 6.0 knots
days run: about 30 miles since leaving the slip
Sunny. Wind down to 15-16 knots.
An hour ago we passed south of five ships anchored well offshore, presumably waiting to enter Savannah.
Cabin getting better organized as we move along. I have restowed juice bottles and boxes and cleaned various containers as I make use of them, such as the one holding tooth brush, tooth paste and floss.
There are still a number of isolated buoys and towers ahead, some marking fish havens and a marine sanctuary, some belonging to the Navy. I’d like to head more to the east and will if the wind eases.
All three of the inflatable cushions I use protect my side and arms while heeled over at Central are leaking. I have other firmer cushions, but they are less comfortable.
1530 This is getting to be a rough day. Wind 17 apparent just aft of the beam, so perhaps 19 or 20 true. 4’-5’ waves rolling and sometimes slamming into us. A few coming on board. Perhaps we are experiencing wind against Gulf Stream. Our COG is west of the true compass heading. I just furled more of the jib. Our SOG is 4.5-5.0, also evidence the Stream is slowing us.
1830 An unexpectedly hard day. Rolling and tossing so much I spilled water transferring it from one container to another. A just poured gin and tonic spilled after only one sip. And a few minutes ago as I was eating my dinner of freeze dry chicken and dumplings a wave came down below and added salt to the meal, to my Levis, and to a glass of boxed red wine.
A half hour earlier GANNET was drawn as if to a magnet to one of the eight towers the Navy has constructed well offshore.
We are rolling so much I can’t type.
2000 Becalmed. Jib still set but slating. We are drifting back northwest. Another Navy tower not far to our south is no longer a concern. I have not been able to free myself from the land.
Monday, March 6
0715 A miserable night with the jib collapsing and filling fifteen or twenty times a minute. I partially furled and over trimmed it to reduce the force. Also set up the starboard running backstay. I had to wake many times looking for a Navy tower. It is in sight a mile to the east of us now.
I haven’t set the main because the boom would slam around. A line of clouds ahead. We are making maybe a knot north. I am tired.
0800 After the last entry we were becalmed for a half an hour. I furled the jib and let us drift. Fifteen minutes ago wind returned from the north. I raised the main and unfurled the jib and we are making 4 knots east on a port beam reach. Maybe I can get away from the land and ships and towers and buoys. However the last forecasts I got yesterday morning said the wind today would be from the east, so this may not last. At least we are sailing.
0930 Wind has veered ENE at 4 and 5 knots and we are sailing ESE at 3 and 4 knots on a close reach.
I see a ship to the east of us. Another of those blasted Navy towers and another Navy buoy are still to the east.
I can feel us slowing.
31º 16’ N 080º 16’ W
COG 135º SOG 4.5
We are 42 miles from yesterday’s noon position, but there is no point in considering a day’s run because we changed course so often, southeast, south, west, north, east and now southeast again.
Our speed has increased from 3.5-4.0 knots in the past few minutes with a slight increase in the wind to 6-7 knots.
I got some work done this morning. Re-glued the velcro around the main hatch to secure the screen which of course is not in use out here, sponged 8 cups of water from the bilge, and fitted a new stern light. The one I have been using since the masthead light stopped working also doubles as an anchor light and is so blindingly bright it ruins my night vision. The new light runs off 3 AAA batteries and has modes to be an anchor light, a steaming light or a stern nav light. It fits into any GoPro mount. I tried to put one near the stern with its own adhesive which did not stick, so I Superglued it and tied a piece of twine to the light and a stanchion so I don’t lose it if it breaks free.
No ships or boats for a while. I am fifty miles offshore and just passed the last Navy buoy. A tower ahead but off to our north and should not be a problem.
I dozed off while reading this morning and probably will this afternoon. I did not get much sleep last night.
1415 Rain to the south.
We continue to sail at 4.5 knots on a close reach.
I have not been checking the barometer. I just did. 1019, which is high, but I don’t know in which direction it is moving.
2020 Wind headed us and backed as I expected. I tacked and now instead of heading SE on port tack, GANNET is heading NE on starboard tack. There is something to be said for not having a destination, only a good sailing angle.
I don’t know that I am in the monastery of the sea, but
I am very glad to be out here and seemingly to have the ocean to myself. I know I don’t really, but it is satisfying to think so.
Tuesday, March 7
0800 I slept well until 0400 when I felt we were moving too fast for the tiller pilot to keep up. We were making 8-9 knots. I went on deck, lowered the main, partially furled the jib and set up the starboard running backstay. The wind was 20 knots from the west.
After that exertion, which took a half an hour, I did not expect I would get back to sleep, but I did, finally waking for good at 0630. I went on deck and turned off the stern light. I do not yet know how often its batteries will need to be replaced.
Conditions continue the same except we are now making 5 and 6 knots. A wave just rose up and drenched the tiller pilot. I went out and dried it with a paper towel. To go to sheet to tiller would require raising part of the main which I don’t want to do.
The barometer is down 5 millibars since yesterday. 1014 now.
1030 Wind continues to veer and we have changed course from 080º to 115º. I also furled the jib more deeply. We aren’t going anywhere so I smooth the ride.
I found that the two small inverters will not charge the iPad Pro or the MacBook Air, which they have done in the past. I have two larger investors on board and one of them is charging the iPad successfully.
I cleaned the canisters in which are stowed trail mix, protein powder, and powdered milk. And I changed into clean, dry clothes.
I still have the chore of transferring water from one of the 5 gallon jerry cans into the four daily bottles. This is the first time on this sail I have had to do that.
31º 16’ N 078º 34’ W
COG 115º SOG 4.5 knots
barometer 1014 mb
We are 90 miles from yesterday’s noon position, but again have had many course changes and not sailed a straight line.
Getting warm. Inside cabin 83F.
I transferred water without spilling more than a few drops.
Sky hazy blue. Ocean dark blue with white caps. Wind decreased to 15 apparent almost on the stern, so 19 or 20 true.
My watch has not proven to be a good way to create noon positions. In fact the waypoints I already had in for the slip and the condo have been lost, presumably in a software update. The compass on the watch face is accurate and useful as is being able to read latitude and longitude.
Depending on the wind, I expect to turn back Thursday.
Writing on iPad Pro, satisfactorily charged to 98%.
1815 I sit at Central, having had my dinner of freeze dry Santa Fe Chicken and Rice. Normally this is a package I divide in two, but we are rolling too much and this is not a passage. I have more than enough food. So I made the whole thing and ate perhaps 2/3s.
The wind is decreasing.
I wonder if sailing to no where can be enough. I, the hermit, have social engagements this month I need to be back for. Perhaps those who know me only casually will be surprised that I take pride in being on time and reliable. But if I went out for a month, would that be enough? Enough for what? I do not know. But I do know that there is an 81 year old man who is still wondering what he ought to do, what he wants to do, rather than merely wait for time and chance to end him.
It is good to be out here. Just me and GANNET and the ocean.
1900 Two spheres of light above the western horizon. The higher and brighter probably Venus. I do not know the lower and it does not matter. Below both a band of amber and rose just above the sea horizon and I thought: I am exactly where I ought to be.
March 8, Wednesday
0800 The wind decided. It continued to veer and is now NE 20-25 knots. I put on foul weather gear and went on deck, backed the jib, tied down the tiller, brought the tiller pilot below, went back on deck, put a snatch block in a car on the starboard rail, ran a second sheet through the snatch block and the tack of the jib, released the normal sheet which was rubbing on a shroud, trimmed the sail with the second sheet which is not rubbing on anything, and came below. We are making 3 knots about 280-290. The mouth of Port Royal Sound is 160 miles away bearing 312º. Not what I had hoped for.
30º 26’ N
078º 35’ W
COG 290º SOG 2.5
barometer 1021 rising
yesterday’ noon position is 52 miles due north of today’s
Sunny. From Central it feels as though the wind has recently diminished and may have continued to veer. When I finish writing this I will put on foul weather and go on deck and see.
This morning a few waves crashed over us, but did not come below.
1500 Sailing again. In about the right direction toward Port Royal Sound. Under partially furled jib. Wind just forward of the beam.
I’ve just came below after a half hour on deck. While there I saw wind speeds of 17-22 knots. The waves are about 5’, with a few bigger. Boat speed varies from 3.5 to 5.5. I saw a brief 6. Probably averaging 4 to 4.5.
It would be nice if the wind continues to veer and weaken.
1730 Sitting on the starboard pipe berth facing amidships with my feet braced on the port pipe berth, sipping a tequila and tonic with even a slice of lime. I brought one lime on board. For the record I pour weak drinks at sea. Listening to Erik Satie’s ‘Three Gymnopedies’. Serene music.
I tried to stand in the companionway a few minutes ago. Here in the Great Cabin conditions seemed to have smoothed and so they may have, but when I stuck my head above deck the wind is stronger and the seas bigger than I expected. Also more water coming over the foredeck and moving toward me. I returned to the lavish luxury of the Great Cabin.
1800 From where I am sitting I look out through the main hatch, which is closed except for the vertical slat, and see the ocean streaming past, sometimes blue, sometimes white foam. It looks as it did hundreds of times during GANNET’s circumnavigation, but I know it isn’t, and somehow that matters.
1840 I went on deck to turn on the stern light. A wave came. GANNET lurched. I got a gash on my head from the backstay and another on my leg from the cockpit coaming. Not serious. Just the cost of doing business on a small quick boat. As I have observed before, when sailing GANNET there will be blood.
Thursday, March 9
0620 A rough night. But then except for Monday afternoon this has all been rough.
I got in my sleeping bag at 2030, but had trouble getting to sleep. Conditions seemed to be easing and I debated setting the mainsail. Before coming to a decision I fell asleep. Two hours later I was startled awake by the sound of a loud nearby engine. I struggled from the pipe berth and found a helicopter passing overhead and that the wind and waves had increased again.
That was the pattern through the night, easing then increasing. Heeling too far. Sliding around on the pipe berth unless I wedged myself in place with floatation cushions.
I woke this morning at 0530. Got in foul weather gear and went on deck to turn off the stern light. Found a small flying fish in the cockpit and that the wind has veered a little more.
Back down below I checked iSailor on my phone and discovered we are getting a big boost to the north from the Gulf Stream. Our COG is 30 to 40º higher that our compass heading. I went back up and eased us off the wind 20º. We are 80 miles from the mouth of Port Royal Sound.
I also discovered that the Yellowbrick was knocked from its bracket sometime during the night and was on the port pipe berth beneath a food bag, so presumably some position updates were missed.
0940 We are inside the Gulf Stream and no longer getting a boost north. I raised the mainsail and reduced the already partially furled jib and hardened up to a close reach. Good sailing for a change without much water coming over the deck, though I did put on foul weather gear to raise the main.
I found two more small flying fish in the cockpit and enough water in the bilge to use the hand bilge pump rather than sponging it out. Maybe three inches.
And I believe the cockpit bulkhead compass has signed its death warrant. It has leaked ever since I installed it despite my exhaustive efforts to seal it. I seldom look at it and have not once on this sail. I use the mast mounted Velocitek, my phone, my iPads, and I have an outstanding compass in my Apple watch. I also have a handheld compass in the Great Cabin. So enough with the leaking cockpit mounted one.
We are not going to make it in before dark. I might enter Port Royal Sound after dark in the right conditions and we have a full moon, but probably I will heave to for the night offshore. I’ll decide at sunset.
31º 30’ N
COG 318º SOG 4.8
barometer 1023 rising
we are 95 miles NW from yesterday’s noon position
Pleasant sailing under full main and jib on a close reach in 8 knots of wind. I hope the wind does not fade away completely. The sky is clear to the north, partially cloudy overhead. Cool enough so I am comfortable in a long sleeved shirt and Levis rather than shorts and t-shirt.
1700 Some of our best sailing. 6 and 7 knots for a while. Sunny, cool. I’ve put on a Polartec.
No drink for me this evening until I get an anchor down somewhere. I don’t know how far I’ll go, but the sea is not rough and I can anchor in 40’-50’ of water well offshore. I’ve moved the anchor and rode bag to under the forward hatch. A complicated approach with anchored ships, buoys, towers, one of which is a mile away under our port bow.
Almost full moon due to rise at 8:37.
1740 I did permit myself a drink: a can of 0 alcohol Heineken with my freeze dry chicken and rice for dinner.
2130 Anchored in 60’ outside entrance channel into Port Royal Sound.
I am rewarding myself with a sip of Laphroaig.
I wrote about the last day in the previous post.