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Old 15-09-2015, 00:59   #1
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48 Hours Offshore

Yes, I know what you're thinking, 48 hours!, big deal!. Well, it was supposed to be a 14 hour run.

Left the company of my friend's buddy boat that I had been traveling with to back track up the coast to a spot I enjoy. To regroup and figure out what's next. Could have done a better job of preparing and planning for this hop.

Left Port Charlotte headed for Tampa Bay with a quarter tank of fuel and 16$. But hey, I was gonna sail, it's what I do as they say. And the winds were predicted, OK.

The storms on the other hand were not, OK. Lines of scattered storms marching onshore for two straight days. And not parallel to my course, but rather at a shallow angle to me, chasing me.

The first day I managed fine, dodging storms all day using a zigzag course of mind numbing, and hand numbing tacks. And using all my meager reseves of fuel. Barely made half my fourteen hour hop the first day. Between the storms I got no love.

The winds became a whisper, they were saying, "Idiot,...idoit". Light on the nose and with the swell induced rocking the sails would not stay filled. Unless I chose a course well off my destination. Did that for a while until I decided to heave to and sleep.

The next day in the predawn hours the winds started out favorable. But of course the marching storms returned. And this time I was fuel less. Much more of a challenge, and was not able to dodge them all. Several I did, but took three straight on the chin. Fun actually but the lightning and water spouts did cause some concern. Thankfully didn't suffer a direct hit from either. I'm sure the good folks snug in thier condos were looking and thinking. That sailor is sailing back and forth trying to go through every storm. He must be an idiot. They heard this from the winds.

And again no love after the storms. Could almost see my destination but just couldn't get there. Made about five miles all afternoon. Until finally as the sun was setting the breeze freshened right up. A good solid twelve to fifteen knots. Right on the nose of course. I thought, what the hell, after two days I'll take it gladly. And set about beating, and beating, trying to make the south pass at Egmont Key. As that was the best close place to sail into for me.

About 10:00 that night I was finally lined up on the pass headed in. There is no way for me to describe the exaustion and joy I was feeling. Almost there.

On that final tack I was heeled over and styling triumphantly at about 6 knots I figured. .... Then I checked my speed....a whopping 1 knot! against the outgoing current. I burst out in laughter, the only audible sound made by me the entire journey.

At midnight I was at anchor. Went below and crashed on the settee in exhaustion. Worrying about no fuel would have to wait for a new day.

The one thing I did learn from this? The only thing you have to do, really have to do, is just don't stop doing. They say all good things must come to an end and that applies to bad things, too.


Please. Others post a sailing experience. Or comment on this one.

The posts about keeping diesels running are fine.
But, more cowbell please!
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Old 15-09-2015, 01:55   #2
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pirate Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Well.. you obviously made all the Right decisions..
You got there safe with no damage..
The ebb tide bit took me back a few years to my first boat a 7m Magyar.. on a day trip from Poole to Keyhaven I got sucked into the sailing and missed the flood into the Solent.. sat opposite the Needles for 5 hours in a Spring ebb with my log showing 6kts.. did not move an inch...
More tales for the bar..
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Old 15-09-2015, 02:36   #3
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Yours sounded like quite a trip - here's a war story (they always get better when retelling if everything went well)

April this year in Sønderborg Fjord. Storm came in a day early. Temperature 5 degrees, winds 40+ knots right on the nose (wind chill something like minus 15 centigrade). Baltic waves, 2-3 meters right on the nose, extremely short period. Our boat couldn't recover from 1st wave before second hit us so the waves ran right over the deck.

We had the engine going full blast and were only making 1.5-2 knots over ground.
Trying to find Sønderborg Marina (never been there before) was really tough. The harbour pilot said a flashing green light at the entrance. The was no flashing green light, only a constant green light.

Background was the town with a multitude of traffic lights etc.

Finallyturned and went for it - 4 knots of current and 40+ knot winds pushing right up our behinds.

Turns out the green light was the harbour entrance - the pilot was wrong. Got in, mounted every fender we had and finally managed to lasso a clamp on the dock at 1:30 in the morning.

Made spaghetti and opened a bottle of red - tasted damn good.
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Old 15-09-2015, 10:13   #4
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Gee these stories sound familiar. Wind and currents, the only two things that really matter in my watery world. I can go against the current with a stiff wind, or against the wind with a good current, but not against the wind and current.
Coming into Comox at o dark thirty with a blowing SE on my tail, I went to tie only to find no slip space and the need to reverse in a tight lane. The howling wind thought that was a joke, so we pulled ourselves next to a unknown boat till it died down enough for us to pull the boat back. Any landing you can walk away from!
I always sail with the fuel for entrance into the harbor or emergencies. Amazing how hard it is to sail into a bay when you have been out on the ocean for a couple of days.
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Old 15-09-2015, 22:03   #5
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Enjoy reading these anecdotes.

Anyone have more to share?
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Old 15-09-2015, 22:54   #6
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Great story, glad you got there before the exhaustion got you.

I've long had a rule not to leave the dock without a full fuel tank for this reason.
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Old 16-09-2015, 09:18   #7
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

I've long had a rule not to leave the dock without a full fuel tank for this reason.

That is exactly what I was about to write when this one came in. Unless there is a dire financial reason, it's just unseamanlike to venture out with only a 1/4 tank.
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Old 16-09-2015, 09:37   #8
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Agree, and have never gone offshore without a full tank of fuel before. Wait... one other time in Carrebelle I backtracked to Alabama with less fuel, and less money. Had a great downwind run wing on wing at hull speed and a glorious overnighter. Maybe used a half gallon at the pass to my old marina and some work.

This time I did it it again with different results. I was at a low point mentally because of splitting up with my buddy boat friends (their choice), had just arrived in new unfamiliar waters, and had $16 to my name.

Not my proudest moment and just wanted to get back to familiar waters and a chance to work some.
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Old 16-09-2015, 10:03   #9
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pirate Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Still a proud one..
You got there unaided.. don't put yourself down.. its always easy to be wise after the event..
However well prepared anything outside a day sail is a 50/50 excursion.. in some cases less.. good on yer....
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Old 16-09-2015, 10:21   #10
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Thanks Phil, very much appreciate that.

I could have bought $16 of fuel but wanted to save it for a good cheeseburger at Siri's and a pack of smokes when I got back to Gulfport. lol.

Make your choices and take your chances, right?

At Egmont the next day the great guys and gals from Eckerd College SAR (a student run program) brought me $16 worth of diesel and enjoyed hearing the story. So I did have some help.

Motored back to Gulfport and went ashore to a friend's house. We grilled some dogs and drank vodka/OJ and smoked some medicine. All is well that ends well.
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Old 16-09-2015, 14:05   #11
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
I've long had a rule not to leave the dock without a full fuel tank for this reason.

That is exactly what I was about to write when this one came in. Unless there is a dire financial reason, it's just unseamanlike to venture out with only a 1/4 tank.
One fourth of a tank is 20 plus gallons in my boat, enough to run it for 30 hours. I often transit with this much fuel... but only if I know I can get in on half of what I have (10 gallons)
No set rules, just good (hopefully) judgement on my boat.
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Old 16-09-2015, 14:28   #12
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

fourwinds,

You hung in there, worked it all out for yourself, and probably shall have learned more than you think at this point you did. You got in safe and sound, and you were lucky. Sailing on and off the hook is a good skill to practice. All in all, you had a success. The mischievous thug weather gods just don't give a d--n about us in our little boats.

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Old 16-09-2015, 15:15   #13
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

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,
Dan
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Old 16-09-2015, 15:26   #14
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48 Hours Offshore

Experience is another way of saying we survived our mistakes. You now have more experience.

For future reference be aware that the winds coming through the Tampa Bay ship channel and out to the Gulf can sometimes be a real PITA. I've sailed past the channel and had 10-15 kt double. Not always, just enough to make me careful.

Otherwise congrats. The only thing I had similar was sailing from Tarpon Springs directly to Key West. Normally about 40 hrs. This time the forecasts were worthless. Had 25-30 kt on the nose. Went through all the fuel but saved a 5 gal jerrycan. Once in the NW channel, dumped it in the tank. Lots of fun. Made it to the Galleon Marina and crashed for the rest of the night with a stiff shot of vodka. Checked the fuel next morning and found I had about 1/2 gal left. The trip took about 55 hrs. I was relatively new to the boat but gained a LOT of experience.

Like they say, any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

Rich


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Old 16-09-2015, 15:28   #15
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Re: 48 Hours Offshore

Nothing idiotic about any of that. Sounds like you did fine.
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