Return of Euro Trash Girl, Part 1
Charleston SC to Annapolis MD – April 19-24, 2015
In November 2014 I participated in my first blue water passage with the ARC-Bahama from Annapolis MD to Abaco Bahamas aboard JWorld’s J120 s/v Euro Trash Girl. A little personal background- at that time I had taken Basic Keel Boat and Basic Cruising courses from JWorld Annapolis and have skippered bareboat charters for family vacations in the USVI/BVI a few times. The sailing in the islands is great, however, you are always in sight of land. Before the ARC a couple of seasoned sailors, perhaps “salty dogs” is more appropriate, told me to be careful because blue water may start to run through my veins. At the end of that exciting and successful journey I knew that I would need to go off shore again. Months went by and occasionally my day dreams would take me back to that incredible ARC experience. In late February I was contacted by JWorld Captain Tony with an offer to join his crew to bring s/v Euro Trash Girl back from Charleston SC to her home port in East Port Annapolis. I wanted desperately to go but unfortunately the timing coincided with a St Martin trip my wife and I had already scheduled. While on vacation I would look out at the sailboats wondering when I would set sail again. Not long after returning from St Martin I was contacted again by Captain Tony. He informed me that the passage had been delayed until the middle of April and this time the timing was right and I happily agreed to sail with him again!
JWorld offered this 600 mile Charleston to Annapolis passage as a US Sailing Coastal Passage Making course, one more stamp in my US Sailing log book. This trip would not take us off shore as far as the ARC Bahama, however we would sail far enough east to lose sight of land for a couple of blue water days, cool. With the ARC we had the company of several boats making the long journey which gave me an added sense of security , however this passage would include only our seaworthy 40 footer s/v Euro Trash Girl and her capable crew of 6. This course required that each person assume the role of skipper for a minimum of 100 nautical miles and demonstrate our ability to manage a crew and boat in all conditions day and night. As with the ARC this course also focused on the many aspects of passage making including pre-trip inspections such as standing rigging, running rigging, electronics, engine, safety equipment etc. We were also responsible for choosing our sail inventory, provisioning, researching weather forecasts, developing a float plan, set up watch schedules and maintaining a ships log etc etc. Proper planning is vital for a passage, but sure can wear you out!
I met Captains Tony and Kent at JWorld Annapolis on Saturday morning April 19th. We would be driving down to Charleston and this was great because it allowed me to watch my wife skillfully maneuver a J80 from the JWorld docks during her 5th day of Basic Keelboat course, it’s a family addiction now! Why did we wait so late in life to discover the joys of sailing? I know there are many sailing schools out there, however I like JWorld’s old school teaching methods of sailing off and onto the tight docks without a motor: It builds confidence! After saying farewell to my wife, mother in-law and Springer Spaniel, I jumped in the truck with Captains Tony and Kent and off we went. By the way, special thanks to my mother in-law for watching the puppy all weekend while my wife and I enjoyed the water!
9 hours later we arrived at the Cooper Island Marina in the afternoon and immediately started to assess and prepare ETG for her journey. Man was it warm in Charleston and the mosquitoes loved that! ETG had been at sea a long time so we started with basic cleanup and organized her contents. Kent was quickly harnessed in and hoisted up the mast to retrieve halyards and make minor repairs. Once night fell we ventured into Charleston and had a nice dinner at Hyman’s Seafood restaurant and grabbed a few provisions for the boat. Unfortunately our schedule would not afford me time to take in all that Charleston has to offer, but we will return. It was a warm night in our berths and I was happy that I remembered to bring a couple small portable fans, but I was extremely happy to be there.
Bright and early Sunday morning Tony and Kent were needed at another marina by fellow JWorld coaches
who had been racing all week in Charleston, I would stay with ETG to continue with inventory and basic cleanup. I actually enjoyed this alone time to re-familiarize myself with ETG. Cooper Island Marina is a nice marina with a decent ships store, private shower rooms with a/c and a small lounge with TV, wifi and washer dryers. Once Tony and Kent returned we continued with our punch list including flushing water tanks, tune rigs, bone the main and patch wear points on the main, scrub the deck etc. Additional crew members would start to arrive one by one, first Charlie then Martha who immediately started helping with the provisioning list, charting our course and checking weather forecasts. Susan would arrive with tales of flight delays and a very bouncy flight into Charleston. Actually, we had moved our charts into the marinas lounge to spread out in the a/c and noticed a decent storm blow by. It wasn’t until I received a text from a friend who advised that there was a tornado warning in Charleston, I guess we should have been focused on current weather and not projecting out?! The good thing about the passing storm was that it kept the mosquitoes away and we slept in a fairly cool boat this evening!
Monday morning I woke up before sunrise and enjoyed the peace and quiet in the marina. I put on a pot of water to make coffee from instant VIA packs from Starbucks, great java! Skies were overcast so the sunrise was just ok, but I was amazed to see a dolphin swimming around the marina, cool. The other JWorld coaches needed our truck to help transport boats back to Annapolis so we loaded it up with several sails that weren’t needed and transferred the truck to them. We did an engine check, ran jack lines, topped off water and were set to go after one last warm shower. The engine check discovered our engine oil was down just a hair and we didn’t have spare oil and one jerry can of diesel was empty. Lesson learned- CHECK, CHECK TWICE!!
After seemingly triple checking everything and assigning crew duties we would soon be motoring away from Cooper River Marina and under the Ravenel Bridge. We located a fuel dock at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina to top off the oil and diesel we were lacking. The current in this area was incredibly strong and made for an exciting approach to the dock. The fuel dock attendant was awesome in assisting us, he was actually out of quart size oil bottles, but let us have what remained in his personal 5 gallon container from his boat, more than enough- thanks bud! After a quick stop we were officially on our way!
Of course this busy channel is very well marked and we safely navigated our way under grey cloudy skies. It wasn’t long before the wind would fill our sails for the first time as we ventured out towards deeper waters. We were gracefully escorted out of Charleston Harbor by a playful pod of dolphins as we passed Fort Sumter to starboard, what a fantastic start to our journey! To be continued… (read part two here)