05 May 2006
Nassau Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahamas
We'll be leaving tomorrow morning heading to Chub Cay. The plan is to stop there for just a few hours. I want to leave there to hit the Northwest Channel Light of the Bahamas Bank at dawn. There are coral heads that one is supposed to look for and avoid. If we leave Chub Cay at about 0400 we'll make the Channel at about 0700 and that should be light enough.
We had to motorsail all the way from Nassau to Chub Cay. The wind was west at less than 10-kts when we started then dropped to less than 5 in the afternoon. The nice thing about that is that we had a nice, calm sea all the way.
While trying to sail in the morning I changed Galena's headsail from the high-cut Yankee jib to the 130% Genoa. But even that didn't help much in the declining winds.
Chub Cay Marina is closed for reconstruction. The cove at the west end of the cay is where we lay. The wind went to zero by nightfall and the water was glassy-calm. But by 0200 we had south winds building to 10 kts and we started bucking a bit. The cove we were in had no protection from the west or from the south.
07 May 2006
(Enroute from Chub Cay to West Palm Beach, FL, on the Grand Bahamas Bank)
Departed Chub at 0450 hrs. Seas were 1 to 2 feet with winds South at 10kts. We sailed at 5.5 to 6.0 kts until 1400. Then we were down to 4.5 to 5.0 kts. Then at 1800, with our speed down to 3 kts or less and the GPS showing an arrival time in excess of 24 hrs I started the engine and brought our speed back to 5.5 kts. We alternately sailed and motorsailed the rest of the trip.
Our digital camera has the ability to take small video clips. We had not used this feature very much since it really drains the batteries. And batteries are somewhat precious on a cruising boat. But here's a couple of video clips that give a bit of the feeling of what it's like out there on Galena. The first is a video taken the same time as the picture below of Jane at the helm. This was a clear sunny day, about noon with Galena on a gentle beam reach making about 5.5 kts. When we say we had a good day sailing, this is what we're talking about.
Galena on the Bahamas Banks, 2006
The second clip is just a shot from the cockpit over the starboard quarter while on the ocean. This was a day with quartering waves of about 4-feet. When we talk about a nice day of sailing on the ocean, this is what it's like.
Galena at sea.
Jane at the helm on the Grand Bahamas Banks.
We briefly anchored just inside the inlet to clear customs and immigrations. Customs was just a phone call since I had already purchased my $25 decal for 2006. They wanted to know the usual stuff, boat registration info, passport info. But again immigrations wants to see everyone's smiling face at their offices. Later in the day we moved over to the north end of the lake. From there we can dinghy in to the shore and walk about a block to a big Publix (grocery store). We just needed a few things to be ready for the trip north to Beaufort, NC. We'll do that in the morning. The wind looks good for departure tomorrow.
09 May 2006
Departing Lake Worth Inlet, Florida
We did the grocery shopping in the morning and after lunch we headed over to Riviera Marina (near the inlet) for water and fuel. We expect only a 5-day trip to Beaufort, NC but it would be foolish to leave port and head off-shore without a full load of water.
We bought about 20 gallons of fuel and that brings us to about 80 gallons onboard. About enough to motor all the way (500 miles). We departed Florida at 1530 hrs. Wind was gentle and out of the southwest as predicted. But about 2 hrs after we get out there the wind flips to the northeast. And what direction do we want to go? Northeast, of course! So we ended up heading north and pounding into 3-ft seas. That makes for a rough and wet ride. If this had been forecast we would not have left port. The only good thing is that we're running right down the Gulf Stream and that's giving us a terrific boost in speed. The northerly wind is making some serious chop as it opposes the current, but that's to be expected. We're pointed at 30° but we're tracking 350°; That's a 40° push from the Gulf Steam.
10 May, 0630 – Winds: 060° at 5-10 kts; Seas 4-7 ft.
10 May, 0730 – Winds: 090° at 5-8 kts; Seas 3-5 ft.
Raised the 130% Gennie and secured the engine. Winds were going light and variable. Still with the Gulf Stream pushing us we're making over 6 kts.
10 May 1330 – We put our boat-card in a small bottle and dropped it into the sea at N29° 20' W079° 35'
Dropping the card-in-a-bottle
10 May 1900 – The end of a long day of pounding into adverse seas and wind.
11 May – All day we motored into either adverse or very light winds.
12 May 1100 – Added the fuel on deck to the starboard tank.
12 May 1200 – Storms with rain and then wind (southwest at 10-15 kts).
12 May 1400 – Harvey is back! The Aries wind vane (mechanical autopilot) who we'd named “Harvey the Helmsman” had been inoperative since we were at George Town, Exumas. He was caked up with salt deposits and just wont work. I'd tried to clear it up with oil, and with vinegar, and by hammering on him. But it was no use. I'd have to completely disassemble it to clean it out. And that would have to wait until we got back. But it looked like he might be working, sort of. So I hooked him up and, sure enough, he worked. Which was good because after hand steering for the past 2 hrs I was getting a bit tired. We were just coming out of a serious squall and the waves were big. Galena tried to broach down the face of each wave with a lot of force on the tiller. Tillie (the Raymarine electronic autopilot) was having a hard time with the helm just then. Tillie is strong, but doesn't have the throw or the speed to combat a broaching action.
Bill at the helm in heavy rain. It was mid-afternoon, not night.
12 May 1900 – the GPS says we'll be arriving at Beaufort, NC, at about 0430. That's a bit too soon. So we double-reefed the main to slow us down. It sounds strange to talk about having to slow down a Westsail, but we don't want to arrive too early. I've been through that inlet a few times so I'm not adverse to entering in the dark. But I'd rather not unless I really have to. So we slow down a bit. After reefing the main we had slowed enough to make our arrival time 0730. Much better.
12 May 2000 – The winds and seas continued to build and soon we were back at an estimated arrival time of 0430. I never thought I'd say it but I can't slow this boat down enough! I'll give it a couple of hours and if the speed stays where it is I'll drop the main and just run under the staysail.
Jane took her turn on watch in the building winds. When I got up a few hours later the seas were a lot flatter and the winds had dropped to almost nothing. In fact we were moving along at only about 2.5 kts. Jane had gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that I would have a good night's rest. She did all she could to keep the morning light out of the vee-berth area. She had propped the door to the head open to close off the vee-berth area from the rest of the saloon. She had hung my shirt over the starboard portlight. She draped cushions over the outside of the forward hatch and over the outside of the port portlight. When I woke up it was so dark up there that I believed it was still night. But it was about 0800 and the sun was shining. Jane wanted to raise the big Genoa but was afraid that the sound would wake me. So once I was awake we raised all sail and increased our speed to about 3.5 kts. We had all day to get in, right? Well, when you're that close to port you get in a bit of a hurry. So we finally fired up the engine and dropped all sail and motored in for the last 4 miles or so. We arrived at Beaufort Docks at 1030 hrs, 13 May.
We had traveled 530 miles in 3.5 days. Not bad. But of course we had that big lift from the Stream.
Day 1: 167 miles
Day 2: 149 miles
Day 3: 140 miles
Day 4: 74 miles
Planned Route v. Actual Track from Lake Worth to Beaufort
The only really bad weather was that squall on day 2.
We arrived in Beaufort just in time for their annual music festival. There were live bands everywhere. All the bars had people with guitars and fiddles and banjos. I was introduced to the sounds of Hooverville, The Alvett Brothers, and a few other “New-Grass” music groups.
On Sunday we relaxed on board all day. Didn't do much.
Throughout the trip our main GPS (Garmin GPSMap 176) had been getting more and more corroded on both the power and antenna connections. The salt water is brutal on anything electronic. The power cable connector has four pins (data in, out, and 12v +, and -). The corrosion attacks the negative pin most of all. In fact the negative pin broke off completely. Now it only runs on batteries and I can't move routes to or from the computer. But I have lot's of batteries and I don't really need the GPS for running up the ICW to Annapolis.
I saw a little rust on one of the chainplates. After buffing with a staybright pad I saw that Galena had a crack at the lower bolt hole. When I get back home I'll have to pull them all off and inspect their back sides.
We met Janel of S/V Nana Maria. She and her husband Mark are friends with a couple from our home marina. Small world, huh?
You will notice that from here home there will be few notes. We've done this before and there's just not too much to say.
We left Beaufort at 1000 hrs while the tide was still running. The current runs through the docks and getting out of our slip was going to prove a bit problematic. We warped Galena back and around and finally got out and on our way. We arrived at Oriental at 1400 and anchored out as we always have.
Departing here I broke off Galena's port navigation light. We tried to warp her forward to get a better angle on the wind and had a bit of a problem.
Quiet night at anchor.
Jane stayed in bed all day. There's nothing much to do here. In fact, there's absolutely nothing to do but watch the sun set.
Jane decided to take the day off again. We've been here 5 times now and the novelty has worn off.
The Albemarle Sound gave us a fit this time. Not quite as bad as the first crossing a few years ago, but it was bad. The wind was just north of west and we were heading north. The wind was blowing at just over 22 kts and the seas were up to about 6 feet just forward of the beam. It was a very uncomfortable ride.
Lots of wind (Northwest 20-25 kts). We had a terrible time crossing Currituck Sound. Wind near the nose and 3-foot seas slashing across the bow. Very slow going so we stopped here and made a short day of it.
Short run, bad wind forecast for tomorrow so we'll stay here and do a little grocery shopping. Again we bumped into s/v Nana Maria. The took the slip just off our bow in the marina. We got to meek Mark.
We left Bluewater with the wind North at 15-20 kts and the seas 4-5 feet. A few others who had planned to go opted to wait another day. That would have been a wise thing to do. But we're so close to home that I just couldn't wait. So we headed out and pounded along for the morning. I had to tack while motoring into the mess. By 1000 the wind had died a bit and the seas had flattened, a bit. By noon the wind was still northerly, but was down to 5-10 kts and the seas were down to about 2-feet. The ride became bearable.
I dug out the propane camp heater for the first time since November. It was quite cold after sundown. Jane dug out the down comforters. But this little anchorage is great. Just three miles off the Bay and small enough to be completely calm in just about any wind.
Had a great sail from Belles Creek to Smith Point and averaged 6.5 kts. Then we motored down to within 5 miles of here. Then we got a little more wind and sailed slowly for an hour or so. But then back to motoring for the last mile. We were talking about putting the dink together and going into town, but in the end we just went to bed. We'll come back here sometime this summer and do the tourist thing.
We arrived about 1700. We were met by Terry and Susan (s/v Cloud Nine), Jane (m/v Bliss), Ron and Carol (s/v Lastdance) and Bill (m/v Rainee Daze). They were standing there applauding as we backed into our slip. Ron had a cold bottle of Champaign and we had a nice little toast to our return. We tied up Galena and went about getting things ready to go home to our house.
While everyone wants to hear about our trip, most of them have read all these log entries so there's not a lot to add. But I want to hear about their winter. I want to hear what they all have been doing for the past few months. Fortunately most of them are quite ready to tell me all about it. As just about everyone on the dock arrived for the Memorial Day weekend we got to catch up with most of our friends. The next morning most of them sailed off to Baltimore harbor. They asked if we were going with them, but we had been sailing enough for a while.