Return of Euro Trash Girl, Part 2
Charleston SC to Annapolis MD – April 19-24, 2015
It was early afternoon and we were all very excited to finally be sailing away from the Charleston Harbor. As I mentioned, one of the requirements for this US Sailing Coastal Passage Making course required that each of us assume the role of skipper for at least 100NM and Charlie was selected first.
Over the next 24 hours Charlie would coordinate all operational needs of the vessel, under the watchful eye of JWorld Captains of course! First and foremost he would need to make sure we were heading in the right direction! Based on our preliminary course, which was plotted prior to departure with traditional navigation techniques, we were dead reckoning right on track. Over the next several days each crew member would rotate assignments including navigator. We would routinely and often plot a fix on our paper charts using GPS, knowing where you are can come in handy!
Once we were several miles out of the channel and into the deep blue sea we chose to adjust our first projected waypoint to take advantage of the prevailing winds, which saved time and distance. Adjustments like this…were made occasionally during this passage and we all became proficient at correcting and adjusting our dead reckoning on the charts. After taking an electronic GPS fix on our position we changed our course to steer to 069 magnetic. This bearing was projected all the way out 114NM to Frying PanShoal off the coast of Cape Fear North Carolina. Cape Fear, why did they name this area that? never mind, don’t think about it!
Over the next several hours the grey skies would slowly fade away exposing the blue while we each patiently waited for our turn at the wheel. Our conditions this first afternoon were as the old nautical blessing states “Fair Winds and Following Seas!” Our watch teams consisted of Me and Charlie on one and Susan and Martha on the other and Captains Tony and Kent would flow in and out during the shifts. During pre-trip planning the crew decided the watch schedules would be 0600-Noon, Noon to 1800 and every 4 hours during the night. Everyone tried to start a routine of eating when you can and trying to sleep when not on watch. I failed at resting properly during the ARC and unfortunately I learned nothing from that experience because the same would be true during this passage. The sailing conditions around the time of sunset were perfect 15-20 knot winds, perhaps 8-10 knots SOG. At one point Tony and I couldn’t decide whose turn it was to drive, you can see from the next series of photos that Tony can be a little tricky when it comes to getting his way!
In all seriousness it was a very enjoyable afternoon of sailing, but the conditions would start to change quickly once the sun fell below the horizon. We had a brief spell when the winds just totally disappeared and as I reference our logs it looks like we were making a whopping 2 knots at 2000 hours and had to fire up the diesel for propulsion, that’s ok the batteries and refrigerator could use a charge anyways! Log also shows that less than 1 hour later the winds picked back up, engine off and boat speed was up to 7.5 knots, cool.
I have several, but one favorite memory from the ARC trip that made me want to go back out is experiencing the vibrant sunrise and sunsets in the middle of the deep blue ocean. I like to move forward on the boat, put the camera down for a second!, and slowly do a 360 to take it all in, Those are the moments where I would pause and realize that these kinds of experiences are what living is all about!
With another beautiful sunset put to bed we noticed that the seas were getting a little confused. The air temperature had also begun to drop fairly rapidly as we made our way northward. The 3 of us wisely decided this might be a good time to pull out the foulies! We were beginning to get some bow spray so away went the camera. Near the end of our watch the swirling winds had started gusting over 20 knots so we put a reef in and fastened a preventer to the boom. Before we knew it, it was time for the next watch to start their shift. After briefing the oncoming crew it was off to our bunks for a nap. It was a rough night in the berth for me, I couldn’t get settled on either 4 hour break, a couple hours sleep max even with ear plugs in. With the changing weather conditions there was a lot of activity on the deck most of the night. The random grinding sound of safety clips dragging along the jack lines while crew moved forward was certainly attention grabbing. The seas and wind had really picked up over night, so much so that a second reef was set and the jib furled. Swirling winds were increasing, gusting well over 25-30 knots and the preventer actually failed twice during the night, breaking a small block and forward chock. Fortunate no serious damage was sustained with that violent action. The 0600 watch was ours and even with little sleep I was excited to be awake and eager to head topside. First thing I noticed was that Captain Tony was in full foul weather gear, so I did the same.
It wasn’t long before the sun would creep over the horizon and start to burn off the early morning haze, beautiful sight. A couple of the crew were feeling the effects of the rough rolly night but were holding their own. Both crews would come and go during most of the daylight hours, it’s hard to sleep when you are on a journey like this. Everyone took turns at cooking and preparing snacks and drinks during the trip. The first nights dinner I believe was tasty beef stew well prepared by Martha and for breakfast we had fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs and celery stalks with peanut butter which was a personal favorite of mine. The weather really cleared up nicely this day, winds were 10-15K and seas were 2-4 feet, nice. It wasn’t long before everyone shed their foulies and opted for shorts and suntan lotion. Once we were in our routine I pulled out the fishing gear to see if I could impress some fish with my presentation. I used a hand line rigged with a blue and white skirted tuna/mahi lure. An hour went by and nothing! But isn’t it funny how when you least expect it, FISH ON!
Some of the crew unfortunately slept through my most triumphant battle with this small but soon to be very tasty bonito! Once Kent finished cleaning the catch and sampling it sashimi style he stored it in the fridge to prepare when all of the crew was awake. The lure was immediately placed back in the water and left to entice perhaps another. While kicking back enjoying the sun and fun we noticed some activity next to the boat, shadows in the water? there’s something big out there! DOLPHIN’S! LOTS OF THEM! What a great morning! To be continued…(read part 3 here)