Thursday, May 21, 2015

And We're Off

For the first time since we bought the boat over a year ago, our entire household is on the boat. The house back in Colorado has sold and just about everything we own is floating in Hammock Beach. Or, it was anyway...

We have been rushing up against our insurance deadline to be north of Cape Hatteras by June 1 so we needed to start our move north.  Given the tight time frame, we can't really just meander up the coast as we would have liked, but instead need to make it a quicker trip.  The plan was to take the ICW up to St. Augustine, the next inlet, and then sail on the outside up to Southport NC.  The weather forecasts looked like it was going to cooperate for the trip, so on Sunday afternoon we departed.

The trip up the ICW went fast as we were riding the current out.  We left just after 3pm and made the 6pm opening of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine.  While waiting for the bridge, a Gemini catamaran pulled up behind us, and it was no other than my friend (and former broker) Pete.  He was moving a newer Gemini Legacy to another local marina after it had been at a local boat show (as I've said before, maybe the hardest working man in the boating industry).  It was a nice surprise to see him as we were heading out.  He even managed to snap a few pictures of us.

Waiting on the Bridge of Lions...or pirates.

Pete following us through the bridge.

After making our way out of the inlet, we found the ocean was a little more active than forecast.  Instead of the 2 foot seas on an 8 second period and 15 knots of wind, we were greeted with 3 foot seas on about a 4 second period with winds of 23~26 knots. The one plus was that both the waves and the winds were from the south to southeast so it would feel more comfortable going northeast than any southerly direction. Not the ideal conditions for introducing my wife to a night passage, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Unfortunately she did get a bit seasick that first night.  After taking some Bonine she started feeling better.  Over the course of the night the winds and waves did finally calm down. By 5am the seas were around 1 foot on a 6 second period and she was feeling good.

For my non-sailing readers...or those not familiar with the above numbers, the quick rule of thumb on sea state is that it is usually pretty comfortable when the wave height in feet is one-half (or less) the wave period in seconds.  As the ratio approaches 1:1, things start feeling pretty rough.  So, in general you would rather be sailing in 4 foot seas on a 12 second period than in 3 foot seas on a 3 second period.  Hope that makes a little sense.

Another sunrise on the Atlantic

That first morning we were also visited by our first pair of dolphins.  They were having fun playing in the pressure wave at the front of the boat.  Later on in the trip we were visited two more times by dolphins that came to play.  Of course, I think I run across photo-averse dolphins since each time I decide to go get a camera, they generally disappear.  Oh well, it is nice to see them and superstition claims their visits bring good luck...and we could certainly use that.

Along with the gentler seas the second day came more fickle winds, so we ended up doing a a combination of sailing and motor-sailing most of the day.  Winds cycling between 3 and 8 knots during the day.  By that evening the fickle winds had allowed the seas to calm to 1 foot on a 9 second period.  A good time for the wind to pick up a bit so we could sail...and it did.  Maybe it was the luck of the dolphins, but regardless of the reason I'll take it.  We were able to sail through the night on 8 to 14 knot winds, and by our second morning we were abeam Charleston, SC.

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when sailing at night.  During the day, you can look in all directions and see nothing but the ocean for the entire day.  Once night falls, it seems that all the big cargo ships appear as if out of nowhere.  Maybe it has just been the timing of my passages that I seem to go by all the traffic lanes in and out of the major port cities during the night, but both my wife and I have noted that these large ships appear like The Flying Dutchman in the movies. In any case, trying to decipher the navigation lights from the myriad of deck lighting on these large ships can keep you entertained at night.

A rare daytime cargo ship sighting.

Well, there are things that need to get done today, so I will have to save the rest of the story for next time.  Until tomorrow...


  1. Did you have to cut the taproot holding Rover in place?? LOL! Good to hear that your heading north and the weather seems to be cooperating.

    1. Ha. Don't think it was quite that bad, the boat has moved every once in a while. ;-)

  2. Why do you prefer to sail at night instead of during he day? I have a motor vessel so perhaps there is a sailing reason ....?

    1. No, there is no sailing reason per-se. When I'm trying to get somewhere, being able to sail all 24 hours instead of having to dock or anchor at night makes a big difference (I won't do the ICW at night) in how many miles you can go per day. The "sailing reason" is more the experience. Silently gliding through the water on a star filled and moon lit night feels peaceful and kind of magical to me.

    2. Ahhhh I see...thank you! Loving your blog

    3. Thanks Claudia! Glad you like it.

  3. Awesome to see that you are on the move, congratulations! I remember my first few night sails, rain and lightning seem to follow me at night! Glad to hear you had fair sailing weather... Do you have AIS?

    1. So far my night sails have all been reasonably good...with only some rough seas once. No, we don't have AIS...looking into it.

  4. Great to see that you are finally out sailing. Doesn't sound like a bad first passage.

    Just to add to your response to Claudia's question, often we sail at night to guarantee we reach a new port in daylight. Sailing on the open ocean at night isn't too big of a deal. Mainly just watch out for other boats and make sure the autopilot is holding course. But approaching an unknown port at night with all of the rocks, reefs, wrecks, shoals and other potential hazards is dangerous.

    In addition, the winds and wind driven waves become more favorable at night due to the differential cooling of land and water (i.e. sea breeze vs. land breeze). This will often result in a sweet spot of 10-15 knot winds or less that are typically more comfortable for 8-10 hour passages.

    So Mike and his wife are getting some great experience for what will become a normal type of passage in the future.

    Fair winds,


    1. I like Jesse's response yeah...what he said. ;-)