Log 3 Home Log 3

Jane said I put way too much detail in the following log. So for all those who would like just the essential facts, I offer this summary of events.

After waiting 10 days in Beaufort, NC for a good weather window (that's a period of time where the wind is supposed to blow from a good direction at a good rate and the seas are not too frightening) we took off on the really adventurous part of this winter's cruise: a 1300 mile trek through the ocean directly to the BVI.

Four other boats left with us: Jenn II, Abu Dai, Northern Lights, Speedwell.

They all had marine Single Side Band radios and had a twice daily schedule for updating each other during the trip. Being able to listen to them (but not to talk to them since we have ham radio rather than marine) was great. We could compare both our progress and our woes with others. It made us feel better when we saw that everyone else was having the same problems that we were having. They were also checking in with Herb (Southbound II) the weather-router and getting advice from him that could also be applied to us since we were all within a hundred miles or so of each other. The 13 days of the voyage broke down like this:

Day

Date

Miles Under the Keel

Miles Made Good

Comment

0

25 Nov

0

0

Depart Beaufort, NC, at 1430 hrs

1

26 Nov

114

108

Sailed on our route, but into the wind and seas. It was rough and wet.

2

27 Nov

97

75

Motored East all day

3

28 Nov

83

66

Sailed and motorsailed south.

4

29 Nov

93

58

Sailed and motorsailed south until we were about 70 miles south of our course.

5

30 Nov

98

54

Turned east again, motorsailing most of the day.

6

1 Dec

92

90

Headed SW paralleling our course (but well south of it)

7

2 Dec

100

98

Headed SW paralleling our course (but well south of it)

8

3 Dec

112

112

Paralleled our course to the SW. Made our only waypoint: “Turn South” at about W65

9

4 Dec

135

133

Sailed south with a little bit of easting. Broad reach all the way making great speed

10

5 Dec

128

128

Sailed south with a little bit of easting. Broad reach all the way making great speed

11

6 Dec

130

130

Sailed south with a little bit of easting. Broad reach all the way making great speed

12

7 Dec

132

123

Turned SSW on a rhomb line toward BVI making about 7-kts average.

13

8 Dec

103

103

Arrived Virgin Gorda at 0930 hrs.

Trip Statistics:

        Total miles offshore: 1443 nm

        The planned route was 1277 nm

        Trip took 12 days, 19 hrs

        Engine hrs: 87

        Fuel consumed: 45 gallons

GPS Track compared to our planned route

Aside:
For all those on O-Dock who, when asked, “Should we build a dodger or a bimini first?” answered “Dodger by all means!”

Well, you were right.

During most of the passage we were below because of the spray over the bow or over the side from a breaking wave slapping the hull. Each time we poked our head out to scan the horizon, we would get a face full of water just before we completed the scan. Because of all the wind the bimini stayed furled and secured on deck for the entire voyage. Now that we're here, however, the bimini is doing its thing keeping the noonday sun off of our still lilley-white bodies.

That is the end of the summary of the ocean leg of the trip.

Now, what follows is a day-by-day account, sometimes an event-by-event account of the voyage. The last time we did this off-shore stuff, I didn't write anything down. Back then each day soon blurred into the next so that later I couldn't recall what happened when. This time I decided to err on the side of verbosity.

You can skip the following Ocean Log and jump to our arrival at Virgin Gorda, BVI

25 November 2005
Anchorage in front of Beaufort Dock, Beaufort, NC

We left here in mid-afternoon. Weather forecast said the winds would die down “late today.” So we took that as 2-3 pm. If we were to head out at 1400 that would give us 3 hrs of daylight to get out of the Beaufort inlet and well on our course to Cape Lookout. In the morning of the 25th we went in to shore for showers and a beer. We took the museum car and made a grocery run. When we came back we stored the dinghy on deck and were ready to go.

1645hrs.
3433.7 07635.8

Winds North at 15kts. Seas 3' (but we're still behind Lookout Point; not yet in the open ocean.). We have a staysail and double-reefed main. Harvey is steering well and we're making 5.5 to 6-kts.

26 November 2005
Atlantic Ocean
N33 52' W075 14'

HDG:140 @ 5.5-kts, seas 5' in North swell. 0830 All last night and this morning we ran with a double-reefed main and staysail. This morning we were about 3 miles north of our course and running parallel to it. We shook out the reefs and are making 5.5-kts. We could put up the jib, but I'm happy with this speed. Last night was pretty rough. I'm suffering from a little bit of seasickness. But Jane is fine.

27 November 2005
Atlantic Ocean
N33 35' W073 40' Eng 868 hrs

0700 hrs

We're heading east, motoring and making 4-kts. Herb told everyone in our little group to “…go east to 71 then direct line to the Virgins.” He said there's a high-pressure ridge that makes the winds SE west of 71 and NE East of 71. We want NE winds.

1500 hrs

We started motoring at 0900 hs after we heard the others were going either 180 or 60 and could not make easting either.

2100 hrs

The days are already starting to blur and ‘small' things consume big parts of our day. I put a reef in the main and an hour later I put in a second reef. That was a big point of my afternoon.

We're trying to figure out where we're going. Herb is telling everyone to motor-sail East to get ahead of a high-pressure ridge. Well, we tried that last night and ran into current and waves that cut our speed down to 2-kts. That's when we decided to just sail. Well, that's not true. We decided that after listening to the other boats talking on SSB. They were all sailing and heading south. So we did, too. None of us have the fuel to motor very far. We found we could lay a course of 160 that, together with the 27 miles northing we had accumulated by motoring east for 14 hrs last night, lets us stay close to our original course. And incidentally a course directly to BVI from here would be 160.

The wind should clock to the south (according to Herb) by Tuesday. We'll just slug this out all night and tomorrow. Then when we get turned to about 180 we'll tack and run east riding the wind around to the SW. Well, it's a plan anyway. Right now we're pounding into 8-ft seas against an east wind of 15-20-kts. Galena is leaking badly from the hull-deck joint along both sides. We have little rivers of water running around in here. When I say we're pounding into the seas I mean the bowsprit gets buried and the lee rail gets regularly submerged.
When a breaking wave hits the windward side of the hull, it makes a deafening crash and water rolls over the cabin top.

27 November 2005
Atlantic Ocean
1200 hrs
N32 01.8' W072 56.9'

The seas have moderated a bit. Now down to 4-6 feet from the previous 8-10 feet that we had last night and this morning. We've been tracking about 170 at 3-kts for the past 12 hrs. We shook out one reef and now we're making 3.3-kts and tracking 157. Our course is 134 so we're not too far off. We are still expecting the winds to clock to the south and then to the southwest.

28 November 2005
Atlantic Ocean
1845 hrs

Engine on at 1800 rpm.
Speed wend from 2.5 to 4.0 by adding the engine to the mix.


Bill on watch (sort of)

2200 hrs

Engine off

29 November 2005
Atlantic Ocean
N30 39.3 W072 16.6

1945 hrs


Engine on (885 hrs)
We're still trying to make some easting on this route. But we end up going more north than we would like. Seas this morning were 12-feet in a NE swell. We are still waiting for the promised clocking of the winds to the South. We seem to have a choice of 210 or 70

30 November 2005
Atlantic Ocean
N30 28.3 W071 25.9

We're currently in very light air. We're only moving at about 2-kts. We're trying to sail rather than motor. And this calm air is giving us an opportunity to do some house cleaning. Jane spent most of the day opening lockers and hanging things out to dry. I mentioned that we were leaking at the hull-deck joint? Well, that water gets into everything. Our canned goods are already rusting. The paper towels are wet and have to be tossed out. The settee cushions are salty and damp.

I had the opportunity to “harvest” the head. Did I mention that we have a composting head? That is, it's essentially a 5-gal bucket that you crap in. But there's a stirring handle and fan that keeps everything aerobic and smelling nice. Eventually, you have to dump out the contents of that bucket and that is what I did today. I got it on deck, tied a safety line to it (we don't want to drop it overboard), and dumped it into the sea. Except for the “just deposited” waste, it really was composted into a black, soil-like substance. It also dumped out rather cleanly. I had visions of having to scrape it out. So we recharged it with a fresh bag of peat moss and a little water and we're back in business for another month or so. Very cool.

I'm still concerned about the fuel usage. This is only day 5 of what might be a 16-day trip. We've already used 24 gallons of our 85 gallons on board. That's a goodly percentage. Granted we've needed to use it, and granted that's what it's there for. But I want to have some left in case we really need to use it; like if the mast falls off or something.

The engine is on and we're ticking over at 1500 rpm. With that we're making 4-kts on a heading of 90. That gives us only 2.2-kts of velocity made good. I'd like to contact Michelle to tell her that we are falling behind schedule and that she shouldn't worry if we arrive in the BVI a few days later than planned. I have had contact on the ham radio with the Maritime Mobile Service Net (14.300 MHz) and know that they would relay the message for me. But I also have the equipment on board that should give me e-mail capabilities via ham radio and WinLink2000. I've got to get that equipment connected up and working. But I don't really have to contact Michelle until later in the voyage, possible about day 14 or so. Except for making virtually no headway, this was not a bad day.

1500 hrs


Herb told everyone around us to head south or southwest to get behind a front moving towards us. After the front passes we'll have NW or N winds. That would be much more comfortable and productive on this southeast course we're on. We have been motoring east then south (actually 60 then 200) all day trying to make some progress along our route. The winds have been very light; drifting conditions.
Jane make a great meal today. We even sat at the table (for the first time underway). Galena's motions was very gentle with all sails up and full, engine running just over idle, and (almost) no wind. Our heading was 205 with a speed of 4.5-kts.

1600 hrs


Transferred deck fuel to the starboard tank. We now have 23-gal and 34-gal in the starboard and port tanks, respectively. Engine hours are at 901. Deducting 10-gal for ‘arrival fuel' and that gives us 47-gal, or about 4 days of motorsailing Not too bad.

2300 hrs


Secured the engine (907 hrs) For the first time we have favorable winds. Jane had the conn, I awoke to a significant starboard tack. And we were not close hauled. Jane had pinched us to 130 and started easing sheets as the winds continued to back. We were making 4-kts and pushing into 5-ft seas. But it's not too bad.

01 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean
N30 10 W070 50

0330 hrs


Jane catching some shut-eye


Engine is on. We were down to less than 2-kts for the past hour. At 1500 rpm we had 3.8-kts

 

I spent time on the radio on the 80M band talking with guys from England. Very cool. They said I had a great signal. I guess that copper foil in the bilge really works. Keying the radio draws about 5 amps. The antenna tuner is critical, though, for tuning that backstay to the frequency.

0700 hrs


A calm dawn on the ocean


Secured the engine. Put up all sails. The winds are freshening from the south; we're heading SW.

1425 hrs


This has been a great day of sailing and the first really “getting there” kind of day. We have been making over 5-kts most of the day. There were some moments of excitement. We would be tracking nicely along, running 6.2-kts at 15 of heel, when a 10-ft swell would roll under our port side and a gust of wind would hit our starboard side and we'd suddenly been heeled to about 40. The wind has been 10-15-kts all day with NE swells running 8-10 feet. On top of that there were wind waves of about 3-ft from the south. We're under all sails with a single reef in the main. Air temp is 78 but if feels much, much cooler.

1500 hrs


OK, here's a dumb thing I did:
I looked up and saw that the fishing line had been sucked up into the wind generator. It seems that when we heel and yaw and the wind blows just right, that the fishing line pulls right into the blades of the wind generator. This was a problem that had to be solved soon. Before it gets dark at least. So I woke up Jane and we went to work. I stood on the boomkin and held the wind generator pole while Jane unbolted the support struts. Then we lowered the pole and generator down to rest on the boom gallows. I tied it off there while Jane and I slowly untwisted the fishing line from the shaft of the wind generator. Then we put the whole thing back up. We had dropped sails for this operation and were lying a-hull. We were about to raise sails but the wind had picked up a lot and we could see a squall line approaching. So we just put up a staysail and a double-reefed main.

1700 hrs

The winds are now 15-20-kts and the seas are confused but still there's an 8-ft NE swell.

1930 hrs

The winds have picked up a little; now up to 18-22-kts. I'm thinking of pulling down the main. Seas have built but it's dark and I can't see them to estimate size. Jane just found that her art supplies have gotten wet. All her papers.. watercolor tablets, sketch pads, etc. I have a very unhappy wife right now. We'll have to find a source for replacing them as soon as we can.

 

We're now 300 miles from the “turn south” point. Then we have another 500 miles to go to get to the BVI.

1936 hrs

Winds seem to be increasing. I got Jane up from a short, sound, sleep to help drop the main. We were running 6-kts. Once on deck it was clear that the winds had increased dramatically. Jane did a perfect “luft-up then fall-off” maneuver while I got the double-reefed main down quickly (did I mention that it was double-reefed and therefore mostly down already?) The whole thing only took about 6 minutes.
Boat speed went down to a more comfortable 5-kts.

02 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean

Jane's off; I'm on. We had been rolling badly (plus and minus 30) The drawers at the nav station keep spilling out. I finally got out the saw and chisel and modified the bottom edge of the three offending drawers by putting a serious notch in them. That keeps them from opening accidentally; now you have to really lift them before you can open them. Wind has clocked from South to NW. Harvey couldn't steer because Vespa (the wind vane, itself) was hitting the wind generator support poles. I had to tilt Vespa forward and rotate her aft. Then she and Harvey were happy and steered just fine. We're still rolling; sometimes violently. But it's tolerable. And we're heading 135. That exactly the right direction. Only 275 miles to the turn point.

0300 hrs
N29 14.2 W069 13.9

Winds still NW at 15 gusting to 20-kts.
We're making 4.5-kts on a heading of 140.

0730 hrs

Down with the staysail and up with a full main. Much better ride and speed went from 3 to 5-kts.

1200 hrs

Jane makes pancakes. We're on starboard tack. We're still running with just the main. It would be nice right now to have a cruising chute. But we're making 5-kts and that's fine.

1300 hrs

N28 47.1' W068 32.8' running 5.0-kts on heading of 140

2000 hrs

Little wind, rolling seas. So engine is on.

03 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean

0500 hrs

(eng: 920 hrs)
Engine is still on. Light wind, light rain, too. The seas are relatively calm. I raised the staysail since the wind has clocked to NNW. I got the old Pactor TNC connected and wrote a note to Michelle. And Capt Terry. And… it worked! Unfortunately, I had also asked for a few weather images. They took over 2 hrs to download. Since we were so far behind schedule I told Michelle to add 2-3 days to the schedule I had given her. I told Terry to contact me on the ham radio. I set some schedules and frequencies. I also added up the daily runs we had been making. Seems like we've been doing just under 100 miles per day. Not bad. I need to start transcribing this log.

0600 hrs

I checked the fuel status: 18/34 gallons on the stbd and port sides with eng hrs at 923).

0800 hrs

engine off, main up.

1130 hrs

All sails up and full. Damn we look good! Heading is 140 winds N 10-15-kts, our speed is 6.5-7-kts.

1500 hrs

Dropped the jib. It was just a little too much strain on Galena. We're still making over 6-kts.

2030 hrs
N27 19; W065 03'


The Aries wind vane keeping us on course


Wind: NE 10-15-kts, HDG: 140 SPD: 6-kts. In the past few hours the wind had clocked from SW through N to NE. We've gone from staysail plus double-reefed main to all up to Staysail and full main. Harvey the Aries wind vane had a system of cords one pulls to adjust one's heading. We've been clicking to starboard all day. Ideally we will get to our turn-south point with the wind still NE at 10-15-kts. Then a day or two after that we'll be in the trade winds and will expect nothing but Easterly winds. Once we turn south, we'll still push East a little. Probably trying to get another 60 miles or so. Then, if we have to, we can give it back. Like during a squall or if the wind just shifts south of east for a while.

04 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean

4-bells on the forenoon watch.
(N2633.8' W064 54.6')

We're at the much anticipated “turn south” waypoint. We'll take a heading of 175; that's 15 east of the rhomb line. Every sail is up and full. The sun is shining and it 78. Seas are less than 5-ft in a north swell. Winds are NE-E at 10-kts.

2000 hrs

We running south and stealing as much easting as we can. That makes the ride a little less comfortable, but it's a good insurance policy. We turn more parallel to the seas and wind when it's time to cook or things like that where we want a steadier boat. We dropped the jib just after sundown. The winds increased to 10-12-kts. As soon as we made the ‘big turn south' Jane and I noted that the trip now feels like it might be over soon. We only had that one waypoint, and now that it's behind us, well, it feels like we're actually making progress.

05 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean

1330 hrs
(N2418.8' W064 06.3') heading 180 speed 5.2-kts

I finally made contact with Capt Terry on the ham radio. I called into the Maritime Mobile Service Net (14.300 MHz) at 1230 hrs just to say ‘hi' and Terry was there. Jane's having a bad day. It's too bouncy to do anything but sleep and read and that bums her out. 1800 hrs (that's EST but we're really in Atlantic time. I'll have to update the clock some time soon). We watched a couple of DVD's with dinner tonight. We're making 5.5-kts with staysail and single-reefed main. Still making a little easting, too. The weather fax shows the winds shifting to SSE tomorrow near a high pressure ridge just north of us. I think we'll be south of that line, but we'll continue to make easting just in case we get headed by the winds tomorrow. Harvey and Vespa are doing a great job steering Galena. They have had the helm for more that 90% of the time.

06 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean

0600 hrs.
(N23 54.7' W063 53.5') Hdg: 190 spd: 4.5-kts.

Motoring (eng: 924 hrs)
At 0400 Jane woke me up saying we'd been headed by a wind shift (our heading was then SW). Between us we played with the sail trim until we had things almost back to normal and Galena back on a heading that at least wasn't hurting us. Then, just as Jane was getting into bed she said, “It's getting windy again. Do you think we should shorten sail?” Yeah, ok. So out we went again. In the rain, wind and dark of night we put in a double reef. 10-minutes later we're all done. And the wind dies. I mean just dies completely. So we fire up the engine and motor-sailing South. We left the reefs in for now. The sun is coming up and in the early morning light I can see squalls all around me. Fuel-wise we're OK. We can still motor about 15 hrs on this tank and then about 40 hrs on the other tank. We should be south enough to pick up the trade winds in 12 hrs.


One of the many flying fish we would find on deck each morning

0700 hrs
Secured the engine. Staysail and main full. Making 6-kts.

2030 hrs

Galena is making 6-kts. But Herb says the 25 kt winds will hit tomorrow. I thought it would be day after tomorrow. But when Jane and I talked about reefing the main before dark she was more concerned with squalls like we had earlier. After some discussion we decided to go ahead and reef. That was at 1530 hrs. Just after our dinner of egg tortillas, Jane went to bed. One hour later she was complaining about the rough ride. With minimum sails and light air Galena was erratic in her ride. I agreed to shake out a reef. When I got outside, there was an increase in the wind. I left the reefs in. By 1930 hrs Galena was hit by a sudden squall. The wind was steady at 20-kts. That blow lasted 1 hrs. I eased the sheets to the point of lufting and we were still making hull-speed (7.2-kts). Once that squall passed the wind speed went to about 5-kts. I hardened up the sheets to keep the sails from banging around. Jane woke me up at 0400 to ease the sheets again. It seems we'd been in one squall after another all day. Between squalls the wind was blowing 10-15 from the east. In the squalls it was up to 30, steady. And a lot of rain, too. Good for the deck since we had a lot of salt on everything. This is the first real rain we've had.

07 December 2005
Atlantic Ocean
1600 hrs (N19 15.7' W063 57.4')

Wind is East at 15-kts. Seas are 8-ft. hdg 215 speed 7-kts. I shook out one reef at about 1000hrs. Since then we've had a very fast but relatively comfortable ride. We saw our first ship in daylight just now. It was a freighter running north just 2 miles west of us. The GPS shows a Thursday morning or afternoon arrival. We're running at 7-kts steady.

1630 hrs

The winds started to increase and we are expecting 25-kts tonight so we double reefed the main. The speed dropped to a more reasonable 6-kts.

2100 hrs

Speed drop was temporary. We're back to over 7-kts. In fact, for the past 6 hrs we averaged over 7-kts.

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