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
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
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
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
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
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.