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Old 22-04-2012, 15:46   #1
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Lots to learn from...

Friends,

I think you'll agree--we did a lot wrong. But we also did a few things particularly well: most notably, we STRICT when it came to always wearing PFDs, harnesses and always being tethered in.

April 2 - 5th, 2012 was filled with adventure and energy drinks, little sleep and a whole lot of missing my wife and daughter. Much of my memory of those few days is jumbled. In this recount I’ve tried to piece things together based on what I remembered, what I and the crew of my catamaran, Forcynthia, had logged and the tempered recounts I provided to Cynthia via satellite phone and that she then relayed to others via email and Facebook.

Forcynthia is a 2005 Lagoon 440, with an overall length of 44’8” and a beam (width) of 25’3”. She has a light displacement of just under 27,000 lbs, and a 65’ mast.

We departed Charleston with the destination of New York Harbor on the morning of April 2nd (this past Monday) and had a leisurely pace throughout that firstday. We practiced MOB (man over board) drills and heaving-to.

Monday night we encountered rough seas and a wind blowing directly on the nose. We were racing up steep swells topped with frothing white caps and plummeting down the back side, cornering the troughs so only one hull woulddip. Waves were washing over the bow and the slosh was coming from every point on the compass. We took a beating, came out fairly seasick, hungry and tired.

By 0230 the seas settled into rolling swells. A distress flare was sighted to our NNW. We radioed USCG and began sweeping back and forth in the area where it was estimated to have originated. After nearly two hours of searching the USCG said that they had a search vessel coming and we continued on our way.

We knew that by unless we were to make-up for our delays that we had lost our weather window.

Tuesday morning we hit our top-speed of 10.6 knots surfing down now north-flowing 10-15 foot seas. The temperature had fallen from the 70's to the 50's, but the afternoon was beautiful, filled with dolphins dancing around us. Our marine friends would greet us throughout the journey whenever the weather cleared.

We passed Cape Fear in the afternoon. It was about this time, or perhaps somewhat earlier, that we were hit by a plague of nearly biblical proportions--hundreds of small round beetles and biting flies landed on the boat and made their way inside, disturbing our sleep for the remainder of the voyage. Our theory was that they came from a passing cargo vessel, saw the white topside of our boat and landed.

Wednesday 0730 we were 37.5 nm due south of Cape Hatteras, motor-sailing in light winds with following seas. We expected to be passing Roanoke Island by the afternoon and in the evening rounding Cape Henry and getting into Norfolk late that night. The temperature continued to fall; we continued to layer clothing.

It was Wednesday that I noticed unusual vibrations coming from the port engine while our starboard engine was burning diesel faster than the port-side. I called friends from the sat phone and we started trying to find a marina near Norfolk who could handle a boat of our size and hopefully had a mechanic. Unfortunately, they were unable to come up with a suggestion. Icalled Cynthia on the satellite phone and she set to work on the task. I called her back an hour later and she had found the marina and mechanic, spoke to both of them and they were waiting for us.

Unfortunately, we hadn't made up the time needed to get ahead of the coming fronts.

Wednesday we continued north, now past Cape Hatteras. We were making decent progress until a storm-front rolled out from the west at a devastating speed, filling the sky within an hour with sky-to-ground lightening strikes.

Within a short time we were surrounded to the north, west and south by a bifurcated system. I gave the order to come about and head due south. We spotted what seemed to be a lighter point on the sky and radar (we adjusted the gain) and I had us begin a slow loop to the SSW, after another 30 minutes SW, then W and finally to the north again. We skirted the tail end of the electrical storm's southern front and made our way for the northern front. At that point the lightening was limited to the sky. We made it through unscathed and continued sailing north.

Again, the weather picked up, this time becoming high seas pushing from the NE with winds consistently above 35 knots NNE. The tall hulls of the Lagoon 440 acted as sails and turning us right around when the wind hit us at anything more than 30 degrees. We were making less than a knot SOG (speed over ground) and slipping to the east quickly. Within an hour we slipped more than a mile closer to the lee shore, now only 6 miles off our beam and glowing brightly under the clouded ceiling. Through experimentation I found that the hulls which made it so difficult to hold a course actually served as close-hauled sails when at 15-20 degrees off the wind, something I didn't expect possible given the shallow draft of a cat, but when bearing ENE from the NNE winds we began to make 2.5 knots SOG and after an hour pulled further off the lee shore. We made it past the outer banks to the southern part of Virginia Beach. I had been at the helm for a little over five hours when the wind began to settle and a crewman took the wheel.

By Thursday afternoon we were nearing the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. Ahead of us were many US Navy vessels including an aircraft carrier, two submarines, a destroyer and a cutter.

We set in, came through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (officially named the Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge-Tunnel), bore SSW for the Little Creek Cove and arrived at the Bay Point Marina before dusk.

For some video footage of our journey check out one of the crew’s Youtube page:

Be sure to watch through for some of the bouncier parts, but again, when the going got really rough the electronics went away.

I had amazing crew with great experience and courage. We practiced meticulous safety precautions. And while we didn't make it all the way to NYC, we did make it safely to a port and then home to our loved ones--I'd call that a successful journey.

Fair Winds,
Myles
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Old 22-04-2012, 15:47   #2
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Another quick update--this Wednesday I'm heading back down to Forcynthia to bring her home to NYC.

Fair Winds,
Myles
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Old 22-04-2012, 16:25   #3
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Excellent recap- Thanks for that . Sounds exhausting. We ran into some rough weather this past day or so that had us running into a channel before a nasty storm and winds. We made it, but it was rough. I have sympathy sleepiness for you, ugh.
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Old 22-04-2012, 16:42   #4
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Re: Lots to learn from...

I hear ya sj01.

The key is to make sure:
1) To immediately practice MOB drills the first day out on the water.
2) Practice heaving to.
3) ALWAYS wear your safety gear, even inside if the weather is rough, always from dusk to dawn.
4) ALWAYS tether in when on deck/outdoors.
5) Make certain to start jacklines at the entrance, not just elsewhere on deck. Do a walk-through clipped in at the dock and try to reach every inch of the deck.

*Also -- if you don't have a 3-point tether, take two 2-point tethers, tie them together and clip both to your harness. There's no reason that anyone should ever NOT be tethered in AT ALL TIMES.

I can't imagine if we had had to execute a MOB situation in the conditions we faced. The hulls were out of the water as much as in and waves breaking over the deck. Even if we had been able to come about I'm not sure we would have ever been able to locate and then reach the person.

Safety first. Always.

Fair winds,
Myles
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Old 22-04-2012, 16:58   #5
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Interesting account.

Most of the video looks as if you were just motoring. When you were pulling away from the lee shore were you just motoring or motorsailing?
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:18   #6
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Hi Therapy,

We motored, motorsailed and sailed: about a third of each, unfortunately. Any time the wind was higher than 30 knots or the wave heights and wavelengths were so steep that the standing rigging was strained we pulled in the sails. Plus, the canvas are the originals and in pretty decrepit condition. We've got to replace it, but I'm really trying to get her home to NYC before I do.

When we were pulling away from the lee-shore (off the Outer Banks to Virginia Beach) we had winds over 35 knots NNE so we had the sails in.

Again--there was lots we did wrong, most notably heading out in the first place. I understand that and take full responsibility. The recount wasn't to try to sound heroic--it was to tell you what we did, what we did wrong and the few things we did right that really counted.

Thanks!

Fair Winds,
Myles
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:23   #7
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Sounds as if you found out a fair bit about the seaworthiness of the lagoon 440.

They certainly seem a safe vessel.

Cheers
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:23   #8
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Myles,

The fact that you got in to Little Creek without damage or loss of crew means you did something right! Good job!

Thanks for posting your experiences.
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:27   #9
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Hi Downunder,

Without a doubt! I was downright scared and twice said goodbye to my wife and daughter (in my head). There was a lot of straining and creaking.

And I should note: this was my first time sailing her aside from the sea trial. I have a decent amount of experience sailing Lagoon 380's (among other cats and monohulls) but for all purposes Forcynthia and I were just starting to get to know each other.

Am I impressed? Yes. And so happy we chose her.

Fair Winds,
Myles
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:29   #10
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Hi Hud3,

Thanks for the kind words!

Fair Winds,
Myles
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:43   #11
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Nice account and observations….the reality of wind and weather is not what most people wish to dwell on….She certainly prefers downwind
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Old 22-04-2012, 17:46   #12
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Re: Lots to learn from...

Hi Pelagic,

We hit over 10 knots SOG sailing downwind with following seas.

That said, she pointed really well, even with worn out sails!

Thanks!

Fair Winds,
Myles
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Old 23-04-2012, 00:00   #13
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Re: Lots to learn from...

sounds scary but awesome story. i grew up in kitty hawk, nc. i know how it gets there. great job heading north.
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