Wednesday, June 28 (2006)
(somewhere off the coast of New Jersey enroute from Cape May to Buzzards Bay)
Through the night the winds and seas continued to build. When I came on deck about 4:30, we were making good 8.0 to 8.5 knots and things were getting harder to handle, so we rolled in some jib. As the sun started to rise, the winds got stronger and the seas higher still. We rolled in more jib (the main was already double-reefed).
Soon, we ended up taking the "third-reef" in the main (i.e. dousing it all together) and sailing with just the jib alone, rolled up to a small #4 size. Our course was a close reach, and during the worst of it we were footing off a bit for a somewhat easier ride in the 12-foot "combers." When on top of a wave, looking out across the sea you could see the occasional wave popping up even higher. I guessed that conditions were Force 6 or 7; upon listening to the weather on the radio, the navigator reported that we were in a bona-fide Gale with winds of 35 knots and gusts up to 40.
While the winds and seas were impressive, and I found myself contemplating what the next steps would be should the conditions get even heavier, the boat was really sailing very well (she's a great boat!) and I was having a great time. One of the crew later reported that he kept looking at me and the other experienced crew to see whether he should be scared or not. We of course found the sailing exhilarating, and so did he.
By evening, conditions had moderated significantly, the winds had shifted from southeast to south, and fog had set in. We had decided to press on to Marion, but wanted to make sure we arrived in daylight rather than at night, in the fog. After passing close by the rocks off Cuttyhunk Island (not seeing them in the dark of a foggy night, just hearing the surf), we bore off and ran wing-and-wing up to the ship channel, and then rolled up the jib all the way. We were going too fast! We took a second reef in the main, but were still making over 5 knots, so we over-trimmed the main to try to slow down further.
Thursday, June 29 (2006)
We sailed into Sippican Harbor (Marion) and picked up a mooring (under sail) just off the Beverly Yacht Club at about 5:30 AM, and all turned in. We had just sailed about 260 nautical miles in about 40 hours in our little 34-foot boat.