Bob, Lance, and I- what a great ocean sailing team! I seriously couldn’t ask for better crew for my first offshore passage as Captain of my own boat.
It was an eerie morning where pea soup thick fog surrounded us as we snuck off the dock at Brewer’s Cove Haven. It was early Friday November 27 and I had actually never experienced fog, nonetheless fog that thick ever before on Acedia. We turned on the instruments so we could see depth of the water we were in and GPS to see where we were in respect to the channel…because we could NOT see! Bob stood on the bow and I remember only being able to make out a ghost figure, maybe. We proceeded to bounce from one sandy side of the channel to the other with Lance at the helm. Meanwhile the autopilot decided it hated life in the fog (despite the fact we weren’t trying to use it) and alarmed. We found our way out in the bay after sand scrubbing the bottom of the keel a few times (I must say I had never had Acedia aground as much as I had this November either. Here’s to having anybody else at her helm, geeeze!).
Once the fog started to burn off and we could indeed see the loon out on the bay and harbor seals around us, we started to secure everything left that needed to be secured on deck. We needed to leave early due to potential weather hitting Bermuda during our expected arrival, so we left the very last minute items to finish up while motoring down the Bay to Newport.
I don’t think we were half way to Newport when I started to rip off the sail covers and secure halyards to get ready to sail <<!!!!>> while still in the calm of the Narragansett Bay. After heading out of Newport Harbor in a gale two weeks prior, I thought preparing everything on deck prior to hitting ocean swell that could be kicking up outside of the bay would leave us in a better position to manage everything from the cockpit.
I made my first shore support call to Jon while we were still in cell phone range and he very precisely gave me dates and times of what to expect and look out for out there. We were able to confirm that my AIS was indeed transponding despite the fact that I didn’t show up on the Marine Traffic website. Close to Newport I hailed another sail vessel (turns out that boat, s/v Sleipnir, a German Flagged vessel, a 54’ Oyster, was clearly heading out to Bermuda as well) with no luck, but I later was able to make contact with a kind fishing vessel that confirmed he saw me on is AIS. We were en route to Bermuda and everything (including that temperamental autopilot alarm that stopped acting up once the fog lifted) seemed to be in proper working order!
Day 1 Shore Update:
Just off the phone with Acedia and they are underway. After hitting some thick fog early this morning, it’s burning off nicely and they’ll enjoy some warm temperatures today. Forecasts are calling for mild wind speeds over the next 6 days so we anticipate an uneventful passage.
I’m scheduled to speak with Melissa each morning at 9:30 Eastern to discuss weather/routing so I’ll send a brief update everyday thereafter. It’s such a mild forecast, with breeze either on the beam or behind them, that they likely won’t stray too far from the rhumbline.
I put everyone in the BCC address line to keep the cross traffic down. If you wish to be removed from this email list, just let me know.
We passed Newport Harbor and put up the sails allowing for a gorgeous beam reach in the 12-15kts of beautiful breeze, it was 65 degrees and sunny. s/v Sleipnir followed us from Newport, however, didn’t stay on our stern for too long. By midafternoon as the sun was setting, for a dramatic overtaking effect for sure, Sleipnir overtook us to our starboard. Race over. Unless, of course, I have a 10+ hour handicap on that vessel!
I was super psyched to have Bob and Lance aboard for this sail. Lance is an experienced and enthusiastic sailor, racer, and fellow Freedom owner that I had known for 10 years. Bob, I met at the Brewer’s Safety at Sea Seminar I was invited to this past summer. He and his wife were looking for offshore experience as they have plans to take off sailing in a year or so. One of the best parts of the trip was that Bob and Lance were equally excited to be out on the ocean for this trip as I was. It was thrilling energy and it was awesome to be able to provide Bob with his first offshore passage and Gulf Stream crossing. These ‘first’ trips are invaluable and undeniably memorable as I certainly remember mine!
We agreed between the three of us that Lance and Bob were going to take 3-hour watches and because I like to take watch I would fill in for a full watch or overlap between their watches to give them company. How I filled in depended on how they were feeling as I took watch to give them extra rest or come hang out with them in the cockpit. I also cooked, cleaned, made sure we were not sinking and systems were working, and of course verified we were still on the right course. I think we did a great job covering for each other and giving whoever needed something the time and opportunity to rest and/or cover a longer watch.
By 8pm that first night, just like clockwork, the time Jon told us we would be crossing the first major shipping channel, we did indeed see a few boats of traffic and even watched a large barge pass pretty close ahead of us. Off in the distance were lights from other boats and the moon was lit up bright to make the night sailing just luminous.
Upon daylight with the light breeze that we had, it was decided that we put up the genniker. Lance was on the bow, he hanked up the fore sail and rigged Acedia to be able to trim the more conventional rigged sail for the first time since I owned her. Acedia is a Freedom with a fractional, self-tacking jib which takes simply a tug on the sheet to pull in the sail and releasing a jam cleat to let it go!
Day 2 Shore Update:
After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Acedia, we managed to get a phone connection around 9:50 Eastern this morning. All is well on board and they are having a beautiful sail. The temperature is comfortable, allowing the crew to hang out in the cockpit without their foulies.
The forecast is calling for continued mild wind speeds in the 8-12 range but the position of the front line may change, bringing more breeze, perhaps as high as 20 knots. They hit a little counter current last night as they entered the west side of a warm water eddy and will likely reach the main body of the gulf stream tomorrow evening.
There is only one reported systems issue: a minor fuel leak, likely between the lift pump and the main injector pump. They believe it is coming from the fuel line as the bleed washers were just replaced by the yard. They estimate that about a quarter cup of fuel leaked in the 4 hours they ran the engine getting out of Narragansett Bay. This was the only time they’ve run the engine since they left.
The Spot device is working and updating Acedia’s position periodically. To see their updates, visit this website and enter the password “Acedia”
Around 0100 Sunday while I was on watch, the wind got pretty light (and when I decide to turn on the engine, you know it’s pretty light). Additionally because of the angle of the sun versus the less than ideal angle of my solar panels made getting solar charge on the batteries during the day less than desirable (the sun being low in the southern sky and my panels facing north at about 20degrees). I turned on the engine for 2 reasons, of course, as the batteries could have used a midnight charging. As soon as I thought the wind was picking up again, I throttled back the engine and sure enough, the wind had indeed clocked around to come more from the east. We had jibed just when Jon said we would. Upon daylight, we had decided to put up the Spinnaker since the air was still light enough and the wind angle just about right. We started screaming!