August 21 - All at Sea
We left our Norfolk anchorage at about 1:15 Sunday. We'd found
this lovely Willoughby Bay, complete with a great internet
and a nice breeze. So, we slept in a bit, knowing that we had a
long trip ahead of us, and that our time on the ocean would make
the departure time somewhat irrelevant, other than that we wanted
to clear the ship channel, and be on our way to the sea bouy,
which would allow us to be clear of the shoals on our way north.
We motored out of the little channel and into the ship channel.
Being side by side with some of the behemoths was humbling, but
there was plenty of room for us on the south side, as we headed
to the Chesapeake Bay
tunnel (over which we'd sail at our exit).
forecasts had us on a beam reach for most of our
initial travels, under moderate winds, so we put up the staysail
Our point of sail started as a beam reach, but moved toward a
close reach in order to stay on the angle of the channel.
However, once we cleared the tunnel, we were able to angle more
northward and our travel became a broad reach. However, the wind
was clocking around and also picking up, and we ended up having to
pinch to stay off the shoals.
As the wind
reached into the teens we put in our first reef. The
staysail and genny were drawing beautifully, and the first reef
in the main kept us pretty upright. However the winds continued
to build, and so did the seas, so we took in a second reef. By
this time we'd reached the shoals' end, and could turn north, but
the winds continued to build, and we had to pinch very hard to
remain off the shoals. This resulted in a heel level of over 20
degrees, so we took in the genoa
and went on staysail and
double-reefed main, which brought her upright again. It also
increased our speed.
Unfortunately, the seas were very choppy and fairly sizeable, so
Lydia's hope for a non-medicated trip were dashed as she felt
nauseated. She went below to lay down, her usual salve to that
condition, but reappeared shortly to empty her empty stomach into
a bowl. After several iterations of that, we applied a patch, and
she went down to try to quell the symptoms again.
Several attempts at her trying to provide me relief failed, as I
refused to go until she was comfortable, since, if she could not
read a chart or radar screen
, it was useless for me to leave.
However, I'd been fully rested and was fine about staying, and so
she went below to get some rest and allow her patch to kick in. I'm
so glad I got to stay.
Winds had stayed in the mid to upper teens, with occasional guts
into the low 20s. Our double reef and staysail, aside from the
horrible rolling due to our being beam-on to the short and choppy
waves, did marvelous duty. With all the rocking and rolling, and
uncertain conditions, we left the engine
running in neutral, and
I put on the fuel
polisher to take advantage of all the sloshing,
to pick up whatever tiny remains we might have had from our wreck
and previous thrashings we gave the fuel tank
We had a slight sprinkling of rain just before she finally gave
up, and the weather radio
was talking about severe thunderstorms
inland. I got to watch a variety of light shows, but eventually,
rain appeared in the radar screen
. At first, it seemed to skirt
us, seeming to miss us each time. But then, we started to be
surrounded. For 10 miles in each direction, there it was.
And, soon, it was upon us. The wind built, and continued to
build. We had plenty of sea room, and the wind had moved to our
being on a broad reach (the wind more behind than across from
us). With the double reef and staysail set for the right shape at
120 degrees apparent wind, we rode
What a marvelous ride. The wind built into the high 20s, with
gusts into the 30s, but we were continuing to move offshore
the waves became less choppy and more like swells, though there
was plenty of wind to make them break. The phosphorescence in the
was plentiful, so even though it was pitch
flashes aside) and raining very hard, the waves
breaking were like it was daytime. The propeller
the boat lit up for 40 feet or so. With my foul weather gear
I was dry and warm, my hands and feet excepted. Those were prunes
before I was finished!
However, Flying Pig marched on through the waves, taking her
bath thankfully. After several hours, the
thunderstorms petered out, and so did the wind, as forecast
Perky, the Iron Genny (Perky the Perkins
4-154 which drives our
boat when it's not a sailboat) came on in order to stabilize the
roll a bit, and we motorsailed on our course to Sandy Hook.
Fortunately, all this time, the course of sail had been pretty
close to where we wanted to go, so we made very good time.
However, with the wind dying, the wind shift promised kicked in.
Lydia, having been able to rest enough to get her patch to take
effect, relieved me at 5, and I went down to sleep. She motor
sailed with Perky just ticking over, but by the time I awoke, the
wind had come around to being exactly on our nose for the heading
we wanted, so we went out to sea.
Slow and slower, it became, but at least we continued to move, so
Perky went back to sleep. Also, as we continued to head offshore
the waves became far apart and more gentle. Wonderful sailing,
and I tacked back in, pinching as far north as it could go. As I
write, Lydia's about to go off shift and I'll take over for the
night. We've tacked yet again, in very light winds, getting away
from the traffic entering Cape May.
So far, a very entertaining trip, with the most excitement being
the various ships we have to dodge, but the most entertainment,
to me, being the exhilarating sail I had in the thunderstorms.
Flying Pig stood right up - 10-15 degrees of heel, and just
charged along. The log showed max speeds over 9 knots. My kind of
So, as I take over the dawn patrol, I'll leave you here, in the
middle of the coastal Atlantic ocean
off Cape May, NJ.
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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