So, we've been asked to post some content here, so here is a little excerpt from one of the more eventful moments of the trip:
2-23-2013: A Storm's A Comin' - Pt. 1
Port Fourchon was to be a quick stop-in for provisions, and perhaps a shower. But, looking at the weather, we re-evaluated and decided to wait for the incoming storm system to pass. When the day of the supposed storm arrived, the sky was clear and blue. The storms arrival, based on forecasts, had been pushed back by a day. So we waited. Another day went by, no storm in sight. But, the storm was coming. Tomorrow, they said. Still, no storm came. We waited and waited... But no storm in sight. We'd spent a lot of time in Port Fourchon Marina, and though the locals were kind and helpful, we decided it was time to move on. The storms were on target for late Friday and early morning Saturday, clear by 5:00 AM. So Saturday morning, we decided, was our departure date. The plan was to shoot around the south bend of Louisiana, and head straight on til' Panama City. The trip would be a straight shot, and require 3 days of straight sailing. BJ decided to stay up all night, to offset his sleep schedule. This way, he could sleep during the day, and have energy for a night of sailing (for the uber-nerds out there, he almost made it through the adventure game “Monkey Island” that night, but couldn't remember how to find the recipe to get to Monkey Island... Still workin' on that one... Don't spoil it!). Saturday morning, at 6:00 AM, we arose, spirited, and confident that this would be the day we said farewell to Louisiana. Of course this was the day, the exact moment, in fact, that the thunderstorms decided to roll in. 6:00 AM we peered out of our hatches to witness lightning firing through the sky. We jumped onto our various weather services and advisors, and saw that the storm was predicted to head north, with only a slight eastward heading. So, once the storm had passed us, it would be heading north, while we were heading southeast. Furthermore, we didn't think it possible for us to sail faster than a storm could move, so, by our logic, if the storm blew past us, we couldn't possibly catch back up with it. It was decided, and after the lightning had cleared, we cast off. Panama City bound! Or so we thought...
It was cold. It was wet. But we were confident that we were making a safe and educated move. We departed the channel and set sail, south, for the tip of Louisiana. An hour into the trip, we saw that something was not right with the jib... We had noticed a small crease in the bottom of the sail some time ago, but the small crease had become a large fold. We realized that the jib was falling down. We attempted to raise it, simply by hoisting the halyard, but to no avail. Something was not right. The jib continued to fall down the furler. We pulled it completely down, which revealed that the halyard had broken from the furler. This meant that the only way to hoist the jib was at the top of the mast. No way to get it down without a harness and a lot of gusto. We concocted a scheme (as we often do) to raise the jib with the spinnaker halyard. This took some doing, as we did not have the proper fastener to attach the jib to the halyard. We improvised and attached the halyard to the furler, sharing a fastener with the sail. The weather, meanwhile, was steadily worsening. We raised the jib with great success, and patted ourselves on the back for the great job we had done.
A little side note; While hoisting and lowering sails, the boat must be facing into the wind so that there is minimal strain on the sail. Into the wind, at this time, was northeast. Into the wind, at this moment, also happened to be into the thunderstorms, which we had been unwittingly steering towards for the past hour or so. The wind was picking up, and we decided to tuck in sail and motor away from the storm. Rolling up the jib proved more strenuous than usual. Something, again, was not right. As it turned out, sharing a fastener between the sail and the halyard was a mistake. The furler could not spin independently from the halyard, and so the halyard was twisting around the furler with the sail. Thunderstorms immediately to our north we had no more time to play with jibs, so we decided to motor out. We'd deal with our jib later. But our attempts to dodge the storm were in vain. We quickly became surrounded by deep black clouds, and the rain turned heavy. Lightning was flashing, close by. We found a nearby oil rig, and circled it, hoping that, if lightning were to come, it may find the rig before it found us. A tanker also happened by, so we felt we had a safety net, if things were to go really bad. Luckily, things didn't get worse. We got soaked for about an hour longer, watching lightning shrink over the horizon. We were safe once again. But the Jib needed dealing with. We had nothing metal to attach the spinnaker. But we had rope. Rope everywhere in this boat. We tied the jib to the spinnaker halyard with several folds of twine, and hoped that it would hold. The jib was raised and the twine held. We had our jib back!
The storms subsided, and we were back on course. Midway through the day, we were joined by a beautiful small bird. Black, with a yellow chest, it was clearly not a sea bird, and looked like it may have been someones pet. She landed on the side of the bimini, then jumped around to the portside lifeline, and from there found a comfortable spot, away from the wind, behind the mainsail. We tossed her bread crumbs, but she did not accept our offer. We don't know when she left us, but we hope she is safe. What a bird like that was doing in the middle of the ocean is a complete mystery to us.
The rest of the day was cold. Everything in the boat was wet. But we were safe from storms... For now...