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Old 14-05-2007, 12:38   #1
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Little Boat & Big Water

I looked at the weather, and it was predicted to be ok until Sunday afternoon, at which point the wind would build into the 15-20 knot range. That gave me a big enough window to feel safe about going with the club to a local marina for a weekend cruise.

Well the weather moved faster than expected and overnight the rain came and by morning it was a fog / drizzle with winds 15-20 building to 20-30 by the afternoon. Well we skipped breakfast and cast off the lines. SWMBO made coffee and bagels while we were in the river heading out. It was an hour to the mouth of the river with a little food in us and a strange building moving down the river towards us. Hmmm… Buildings don’t float! I quickly changed course as this area has a lot of military and container ships. It was a French frigate coming in to ride out the storm. That is weird I though but the other boats in the club had not turned back, they were following me. Mind you I only have a 27’ Hunter (05) and they are all in the 36-47’ range so I figured it can’t be all that bad out there.

Well the James River was running 3-4’ waves from multiple directions but mainly from the North-East. Not bad, but enough to make the dog decide that my wife’s lap was the only place safe on the boat. Now I am down to single handing the trip. Anyone who has crossed over the Hampton Roads Tunnel knows that the water is always rough. Well the tide was going out and the wind was blowing in. I never realized how big a 6’ wave was until we were riding through them. Every third or fourth wave would be over the bow and running down the sides of the boat. One was big enough to put water on the coach top roof. I can hear the other boats talking, but my mind was on the waves in front of the boat. Well we punched through and the bay settled down to a comfortable 3-4’ sea. I never thought that I would put those words in one sentence.

Now I have time to look around and realize there is only 1 boat with me. Where is everyone else? A second boat is just starting to come along and some of the rest turned back. Now I think I must be crazy for doing this when the wife says “This really is not that bad out here. I expected it to be much worse.” Now I know she is crazy!

The next two hours become a pattern as we climb up one wave then splash the next. Well the dog has emptied everything she has eaten in the last 6 months on the floor and decided to curl up in the bow to die. I am starting to think about how to build a machine to simulate the motion the boat is going through as my gluts’ and thighs are getting one heck of a workout. Wait, is that a crab pot? Yup, I realize we are in the middle of a field of crab pots. Now is NOT the time I want to wrap a pot around my prop. Luckily the fog has lifted and the rain has stopped so we can see them and work our way around the bigger waves and lines of crab pots.

Finally safe at the dock, a neighbor says he was watching us and could not believe how well the boat was taking the waves. Well honestly I could not believe it either. We only had one door pop open and no damage to the boat.

Lessons learned:
  • Never trust the weatherman!
  • A dodger is one of the best things for a boat. Too bad I don’t have one.
  • Sunglasses will protect your eyes from salt spray.
  • Radar can see much better in the fog. Need to add that to the next boat.
  • SWMBO is a better sailor that I ever expected!
  • You never know what you can do until you try.

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Old 14-05-2007, 12:57   #2
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Please see my post under "crossing the Gulfstream" we shared much in this experience! By the way, sunglasses may protect your eyes .. but once covered with salt, they are pretty useless is worse at that point.

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Old 14-05-2007, 13:18   #3

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Glad to hear your experience turned out well and that it allowed you to have a safe experience with some weather.

What is UP with this East Coast weather this week? No forecasts have been accurate, winds have popped up out of nowhere and people are coming back into port with damage. I was one of them, although the damage was light.

We also had a wave or two break over our stern on the way back in after tearning our batten pockets. Not normal at all for where we are. A 45' boat normally wouldn't have an issue around here. Somehow, everything lined up funny and we got plastered the other morning with some steep STEEP chop that was breaking as we entered the harbor.
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Old 14-05-2007, 13:21   #4
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A dodger is one of the best things for a boat. Too bad I donít have one.
Amen Bro.

We don't have a dodger either, but that builds character on those dark and stormy days...
Life is sexually transmitted
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Old 14-05-2007, 17:59   #5
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  • Never trust the weatherman!
Well that much we all can agree with. Trouble is you only remember the time they are wrong, so you do get suckered a lot in hindsight.

A dodger is one of the best things for a boat. Too bad I don’t have one.

We brought the boat home from DE to the York river with half a hard dodger and winds 30 gusting to 40 and waves 6 - 8ft. A full dodger would have been a luxury. A good dodger is hard to over look. Call Canvas and Cushion in Hampton. Jo Bostick is a sailor and knows dodgers.

Sunglasses will protect your eyes from salt spray.

Until they get salt on them and you can't see. You need the dodger<g>.

Radar can see much better in the fog. Need to add that to the next boat.

Practice with radar in good weather else you'll never learn to read it correctly doing untold damage and problems.
  • SWMBO is a better sailor that I ever expected!
Ok I can agree with taht too.
  • You never know what you can do until you try.
Maybe the most important thing you could say. You can do more than you think and you can do things you wouldn't do on purpose. It's best to understand that part. Being lucky is still always better than being good.

Fair winds and stay out the James River. Nasty place. Too many boats. Too many places to go aground. Too many Navy ships with weapons.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 14-05-2007, 18:08   #6
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Originally Posted by Pblais
Too many Navy ships with weapons.
Not another guns on boats thread!
Sing to a sailor's courage, Sing while the elbows bend,
A ruby port your harbor, Raise three sheets to the wind.
......................-=Krynnish drinking song=-
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Old 17-05-2007, 08:35   #7
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I'm not familiar with the part of the world you guys are talking about, so as a complete outsider (but a sailor nethertheless) I was intrigued by your comment on a French frigate seeking shelter and you continued. I'm assuming that your trip didn't involve open sea (I'm sure you wouldn't have continued if it did) and I'm glad you got in some bad weather experience without coming to any harm. A spot of inclement weather is the best way to find out about yourself and the boat. In my part of the world ~ the South coast of England and the Channel Isles~ navy boats seeking shelter is taken as a broad hint to double up on the mooring lines and head for the nearest pub!
Anyway, I'm enjoying reading about a different kind of sailing, not sure if I'll ever make it up to your neck of the woods, the BVI's is probably as far north as I'll go.

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