I know some of you are asking that very question – although most are asking “Who the frig is this guy?”
I guess some figured I had not waved back
to the wrong boater and got my comeuppance.
Others just assumed that I had horded my weapons, freeze dried vittles and hunkered down waiting for the impending zombie apocalypse
Many didn’t notice my absence.
And few assumed, correctly, that I was off sailing.
And what sailing it was oh my Brothers and Sisters!
Last month I had the opportunity to crew on a Volvo 60 (Spirit of Adventure) on a bluewater transit from Bermuda to Nova Scotia.
What a blast that was!
The first 30 hours we were stuck under a high pressure system and had to motor sail.
Once we got clear of that system the wind picked up nicely – topping out at about 25 knots.
We cruised at 8 – 9 knots, hitting 13 for a short time.
Once into the Gulf Stream the waves got a bit more erratic.
As we headed in to Lunenburg we sailed through some fog banks.
Over all I got to experience a bit of the diversity that the Atlantic has to offer.
There was definitely a lot to be learned on the trip, particularly as the boat is rigged for racing and the rest of the crew were experienced racers. The attention to sail trim was quite enlightening.
There were 8crew plus a mate and a skipper. We were divided into 2 watches with 3-hour shifts. I thought I would be constantly tired with that 3 hours on 3 hours off schedule, but surprisingly I got into the rhythm and never felt overly tired. Although I have to say a couple of those 3 – 6 am shifts were hard to start. It was kind of funny when I thought I had missed my shift by 5 minutes. I raced onto the deck, full of apologies and relieved the woman on the helm. She quizzically, but happily relinquished the wheel to me.
After a couple of minutes one of the opposite crew members asked why I was in such a hurry to get on watch. I said that I felt bad for being late. He said I was half an hour early. I didn’t believe him – it would have been a good gag. The rest of the crew finally convinced me that I was early. I must have inadvertently hit the button that set my watch to Newfoundland time (half hour earlier than Atlantic time). It wouldn’t have been so bad except that I did the same thing the next night only I also woke up one of my crewmates who was notorious for sleeping in.
In terms of marine life we didn’t see a lot. A small pod of pilot whales off Bermuda; quite a few porpoises (or dolphins) along the way; a Mola Mola; lots of Portuguese Men of War. Around Bermuda we saw lots of Bermuda Longtails (White-tailed Tropicbird), but once we got further North only shearwaters and petrels.
We made the crossing in 4 days – 727 nautical miles. So that’s averaging about 7.5 knots.
We landed in Lunenburg on the Wednesday; I flew home from Halifax on the Thursday; was aboard my boat on Saturday and departed on a 3-week cruise around Georgian Bay on the Sunday.
We staged at Hope Island on the Sunday. There were 4 boats: us (a Hunter 30’), a Hunter 33.5; a Catalina 34 and a Beneteau 46.
Winds for Monday were promising for getting us across the bay – a 50-mile stretch - in one shot. I have crossed the Bay a number of times but had yet to make the complete crossing under sail.
Monday arrived with winds of 15 knots from the NE. It looked very promising to make Cabot Head on a close reach.
As my boat has a relatively large main I will put in a reef at 15 knot winds. And because the weather forecast is usually wrong I anticipated higher winds and put in a second reef for good measure. We left Hope Island and headed across the Bay.
The waves maxed out at about 2 metres. Most of them came in at a good angle, the odd set came in abeam. The wind maxed out at 22 knots.
The boat handled like a dream! The two reefs kept us on our feet. We were on a close reach making over 6 knots and frequently into the low 7’s.
About halfway across I felt comfortable enough to grab a nap. I idled the motor, set the autohelm and went below while my wife maintained watch. After what I thought was about half an hour, but what turned out to be an hour and a half I came back to the cockpit to find that the Autohelm had worked brilliantly and had kept us just a bit high of the rhum line. My wife went below to grab a nap but was back up within 5 minutes asking how I could stay down below.
At one point I saw that we were catching up to the Beneteau. “Holy Crap!” I thought. Then I heard the Beneteau transmit that they had slowed down to wait for us to catch up.
About ¾’s of the way across I was able to shake out one of the reefs.
We arrived at Wingfield Basin (Cabot Head) about 50 minutes behind the Catalina. I estimated that he averaged .5 knots faster than us to get there when he did. His dinghy is on davits and he has a feathering prop, whereas I was towing my dinghy and had a (freewheeling) fixed prop. I think that without those advantages we would have been able to keep up with the Catalina. I was very happy with my little boat’s performance.
From Wingfield we headed to Tobermory, where we spent a couple of days.
Chamonix was docked a couple of boats away so I made a point of stopping by to say hello to him and Mrs. Chamonix. You know what a gregarious fellow I am!
We left our friends in Toby and set off for Kilarney, with a stop at Club Island.
From Club we sailed to Kilarney, picked up my brother and went up into Baie Fine.
A couple of days in Baie Fine surrounded by bald eagles and feasting on wild blueberries then back to Kilarney.
The forecast was for one day of good winds then none for a few days, so I decided to sail down to Pointe au Baril. About a 48-mile sail.
We headed out into the Bay and it was soon clear that we were overpowered. We hove to and put in a reef.
We made the crossing in less than 8 hours. I was very pleased: two crossings under sail in one trip.
As forecast the next few days had no wind. We took the opportunity to motor our way down the small-craft route, visiting friends in Dillon Cove and Parry Sound.
All-in-all we were gone for 19 days. Would have liked to get in a bit more sailing, but we still had a great trip.