Sinbad’s Ocean Passage: Nov. 7-18, 2011
After a nice rest at the Sea Gate Marina on the ICW south of Oriental NC, where we were welcomed and entertained by the local marina folk and sailors Brion and Andy, delivering a boat to the Abacos, we departed for Morehead City NC to pump out the waste tank and fuel up. We headed offshore at around 1pm, under sunny skies and mild conditions. Our auto pilot was not working dependably, and soon quit altogether, so we hand steered for almost the entire trip. We stood two hour watches 24 hours a day for the entire twelve days. The weather outlook predicted one chance in seven of encountering gale conditions offshore. Well, we got lucky, and hit the one chance! After leaving the lee of Cape Lookout, the wind rose to 20kts and built throughout the night. We crossed the Gulf Stream with wind blowing 29 kts, and waves like pyramids on the Gulf Stream current. The gale blew for four days, and we logged winds gusting sustained blasts of up to 44 knots, and swells of 30-40 feet (measured top to bottom). Fortunately, they seldom broke, and Sinbad performed in her rugged dependable way. Di, however did not. She was seasick and out of commission for 24 hours. Yee haa. We hove to on Tuesday night (Nov . 8) because we were exhausted and sea conditions were unrelenting and we needed rest. We flew the double reefed mizzen sail and furled the jib, and the boat rode fairly comfortably and held position well, so we could rest. On the 9th we dropped the mizzen and raised a working jib, and ran with the waves south to get out of the weather system, which we later learned had become a named tropical storm “Sean”. For two more days the wind blew sustained velocities of 29 kts and we ran south at good speeds. On Friday, Nov. 11, the wind dropped to 21 kts , and Larry got to go fishing. ON Saturday, waves began to build, but he kept fishing. He caught 4 mahi mahis, filleted three of them, and hooked two other fish which he let go. Weather was still rough, and remained rough until Monday, Nov. 14th. We sighted a Bermuda longtail, a type of tropic bird, and raised the triple reefed mainsail for the first time, so we could sail closer to the wind and acheive our necessary easterly course. Tuesday, Nov. 15 the weather moderated to 20-24 kts, and with fairly choppy waves we continued to bear Southeast. For two more days we continued east southeast, under moderate condition which nonetheless required our constant watchfulness. On Thursday the 17th, at 630 am, we turned south at last to approach the BVIs with 138 miles to go. Fatigue was beginning to have it’s affect on Sinbad’s faithful crew, and we had to check and double check our plans for sailing through the night and approaching land, by possibly in darkness. As it turned out, Randy sighted the lights of the BVI and St. Thomas, and we slowed our approach and stood off 20 miles or so, so that we would enter the Great Harbor at Jost Van Dyke, BVI by daylight. We checked in with Customs, who directed us to dinghy in when we were ready, so we anchored, cleaned up a bit, and headed ashore to clear in and relax. We could not walk a straight line on the dock, and staggered around for the rest of the day, trying to remember how to walk properly on solid ground! We pub crawled from Foxy’s Tamarind Bar all the way back to the dinghy dock, had a nice meal at Foxy’s and went to bed 6:30 pm. At last we can relax and not stand watches constantly.
Swabby Larry performed well. He was promoted from Swabby, to Able Bodied Swabby after the gale, and to Swabby First Class after he caught all the mahi mahi. We celebrated his promotion with fish tacos underway, and again at Foxy’s once ashore. Three cheers for Swabby!