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post #15 of Old 07-01-2011
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I just returned from a cruise from Solomons, Maryland to Bermuda and back in Wayfarer, our PSC 31. She performed flawlessly. She has a very seafriendly motion in all manner of conditions, and we experienced most everything. What a great boat.

Before the trip I tried to get a marine insurance rider to cover the extended cruising range to Bermuda, but was rejected by 3 different insurance companies because the boat was "too small." Indeed she was the smallest yacht I saw anywhere in Bermuda's harbours, but I can thumb my nose at those insurance companies and be grateful for the money I saved by not buying insurance. Also, she was viewed with great respect by the other yachtspeople from various countries who shared our little marina (Capt Smokes Marina, St. George).

As for "when the going got rough" I'd say there were just 2 rough periods. The first was during the return when we crossed the Gulf Stream sailing close-hauled into sustained 25 kt winds with confused Gulf Stream seas coming from 2 different directions. It was never dangerous just a bit tiring since the Cape Horn had trouble handling the seas so we had to go from 3- to 2-hour watches for one night and hand-steer. We sailed with double-reefed main, staysail and a bit of yankee on the forward forestay. This seemed to give a nice balance.

The most vicious weather we encountered, ironically, was after we had returned to Norfolk and started up the Bay. I was foolishly cavalier, thinking that having just made 2 ocean passages a little jaunt up the Chesapeake would be nothing. I was eager to get back to Solomons and paid the weather report little heed. I had even changed from my ocean rig (cutter) to my Bay rig (sloop) which was a big mistake. After about 2 hours of sailing on a beam reach with full genoa and main up, the 3 of us had just settled down to read our books while the Cape Horn steered when "out of nowhere" (if I hadn't been so engrossed in my book I probably would have seen the signs) we got hit by a severe nor'easter right on the nose, with sustained 35 kt winds and steep closely spaced breaking waves. We got all hands on deck and reefed the jenny to a little over storm jib size and put both reefs in the main, wishing I had another. For an hour I stubbornly tried to make headway north without success. The reefed genoa tore and flailed pathetically. Our helmsman, wearing ski goggles and a dry suit was enjoying every minute of it ("This is what I signed on for!"). When the wind didn't appear to be abating one bit I listened to the wx report which said "35 knot winds easing to 25 late." At that point, realizing we couldn't get up the Bay and couldn't safely get to an anchorage I swallowed my pride, got the inner forestay and storm jib up, dropped the main and turned around and ran, wee wee wee, all the way back to Norfolk under storm jib alone (at times hitting 8 knots and very comfortable).

At no time did I feel the PSC 31 was in any danger. I was just concerned about damage to sails and risk of injury to crew from the rough conditions. Everyone was tethered, with PFDs. We had a bit of comic relief when the pull tab of my PFD caught on something in the cockpit and I found myself being swallowed by my PFD. At first the crewed worried that maybe the captain knew something they didn't. Then we all collapsed in laughter, wind and rain howling around us, at the ridiculous sight I presented.


Paul Cooper
PSC31 #9 "Wayfarer"

The secret to sailing is good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
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