Hey Four Winds,
Glad that 323 is still treating you well and keeping you safe! Your story reminds me of my trip from Green Turtle to Charleston. We'd been getting pounded by short-lived, high-wind squalls in the harbor, but after three days of this one of the other cruisers announced that he'd checked the GRIBs and that the depression off Canaveral had cleared up. I was bored of the Bahamas
(I know-right?) so I took off for Charleston without really bothering to check the info myself besides a glance at Passage Weather
to make sure I'd have wind the whole way.
It started off great, with a fantastic beam wind taking me offshore
from the Bahamas
in nice, clear skies. But, after dark, at around 9 PM, I started to see lightning
in the distance that was getting progressively closer. Then began a little dance of reef a little, come back to the cockpit
, reset the boat only to realise the wind had increased and I'm still over-canvassed, etc. I went through five reefs
(jib-main-jib-main-jib) in about two hours! Tried to steer to a point that was in between the worst of the lightning strikes, and would basically sail until I was two miles off the lightning, then I'd reef the jib
and forereach while hiding in the cabin
. At one point, watching the lightning strike all around my boat through the portholes, I realised I'd left my waterbottle outside. I reached my hand out and CRACK!, thunder opened up right over my head
and I snatched my hand back as if scorched. I was fine though, so I tried again and FZZZZZ!, snatched my hand back again, but my handheld radio
hasn't worked since. About that point, I decided I wasn't really thirsty anyways.
That continued for the next 20-odd hours, just fighting squall lines only to get through, lose all wind, get slammed around by the seas for a bit, and then finally have the wind fill in to get me to the next squall line. When I finally cleared the depression off of Canaveral, the sky opening up in this beautiful rosy glow at the edge of the depression was one of the most beautiful sights I've seen in open water
. The only good part was that the wind and rain was relatively warm.
The weather wasn't done with me yet, and a violent storm caught me 40 miles off Charleston. My autopilot
gave up the ghost then, so I had to install a new socket and plug
in my spare in the little gaps between the rain! The positive was that the wind, when it filled in, came from dead astern and for the first time in my life I was able to do an extended wing on wing passage
and it was amazing! After crushing hull speed
in the stream, I came into the Charleston entry channel at midnight. I hadn't turned my motor
on for weeks, and figured I'd finish with a sail into Charleston. After an hour and a half or so of cutting across buoys and trying to get the most out of the waning wind, I realised I'd sailed by the same buoy a few times. At that point the pilot boat got on the radio
and gave me the location of a temporary anchorage inside the harbor where I could drop the hook until daylight - motor
on and I was there in an hour
Only to awaken three hours later when I was thrown out of my settee berth into the cabinets on the other side of the boat by a six foot freighter wake!
I was so delirious that I forgot to check-in right away and almost had to eat a nasty fine. But, the boats will take more than us! Great to hear that you had basically the same story - the storms will always eventually catch up
Glad to hear you're doing well and thanks again for your thoughts on the 323 when I was doing my boat search! All the best,