Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Beautiful First Passage

We were off the Charleston City Boatyard dock at 6:50am Tuesday and anchor down in Fernandina Beach at 3:45pm for a total passage time of 32 hours 55 mins. We covered 171nm including 150nm inlet-to-inlet. We chose a curving route that took us about 40nm offshore in order to take advantage of forecast northeasterly wind at the beginning of the trip and southeasterlies at the end. We got both, but no was 6 kts or less about half the time. Thus we only sailed a bit over 10 hours, motored 7 hours, and motor sailed the remainder (when boat speed consistently  dropped under 4 kts, we started the engine). 


Nevertheless it was beautiful weather: mostly clear, great viz, only a small spritz of rain, with easterly swell mostly around 1m except late Tuesday night when slightly larger quartering swell plus no mainsail up in dead calm wind had us rockin-and-rollin. The nearly full moon made for a gorgeous night. Andy, Lance & I split the night watches at 3 hrs apeice: Andy 10pm-1am, Lance 1am-4am, and me 4am-7am. It was a beautiful sunrise that brought a fresh breeze to hoist all sail and enjoy a lovely beam reach for the 4 hours it lasted.


Dawn was a bit seasick all day Tues but didn't vomit; she was fine yesterday. Piper was lethargic and slept in the cockpit all of the first day but recovered his usual verve at night. Andy finally got him to pee on his mat after midnight but we never could get him to poop till we got to shore in a Ferd Beach...then he went four times straight! Overall he did really good on the passage that will likely be our longest for a while.


The autopilot wasn't doing a good job when we started off down  the Wando River so Lance and I played with a bunch of settings & had it working pretty well shortly after we exited Charleston Inlet. Our nav light CB kept tripping so there's a short somewhere I'll have to find today...we just used the masthead tricolor instead. A fuse in the chartplotter/radar power supply blew the first time we tested out the radar but I was able to track it down & replace it, and everything worked well from there on. I really like the sailing instruments & plotter we got. There's a ton of information, very well presented.


At sunset yesterday we caught our first fish from Windbird, a little Bonito that provided the perfect amount of meat for a grilled fish & rice dinner for four. We used a hand line with 80 lb test & a plug/skirt squid lure which is a rig we've used with some success in the BVI. We don't have an offshore rod yet, I want to use the hand line & yoyo and see how that goes before buying more expensive equipment.


There's a lot of damage from Matthew here. There are three sunken boats in the mooring field and a number of others ashore; the Fernandina Beach Municipal Marina suffered severe damage and is mostly closed st present. The moorings are now decommissioned but there was enough room to anchor in between in about 8' MLW.

After anchoring we launched the dinghy from the foredeck and headed to shore so Piper (and Lance!) could do their business. We walked around the very picturesque downtown enjoying the warm sunshine, then stopped at a dog-friendly bar for a celebratory beer. Unfortunately Piper kept barking at strangers and we had to take him out before he got us kicked out. Time to start using that bark collar. Back at the boat we had a nice chili dinner with rum cake for dessert, and at 9pm headed back to shore for a nightcap at The Palace - supposedly the oldest bar in Florida. Cool place.


This morning we were up early so Lance & Andy could shower and catch an uber ride to the Jacksonville Airport. Since then Dawn and I have been cleaning up around here and planning our next week or so. We've had a change of plans - instead of ducking into Jacksonville we're going to continue south to Daytona Beach and leave the boat in a marina there when we fly up to Atlanta the 19th-21st. The weather looks great for a 9-hr offshore passage to St. Augustine tomorrow. It would be a 2-day trip on the ICW. We'll spent three nights in St. Augustine before starting down the ICW for Daytona Beach. It feels great to be in Florida at last & headed further south soon.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! I've been following your saga, and although I don't understand much of the sailboat-equipment terminology, that doesn't matter, it's a great read! Two questions: 1) Are you able to record your tracks on GPS, then post them plotted on Google Maps, for instance? 2) Do you find it difficult to spend three hours looking at nothing in the middle of the night without falling asleep?