Passage South: Day One

I have 5 days of notes from our passage south, and I will be presenting these two ways: 1. quick overview for normal people who only have a vague interest. 2. Copy and paste of my very tedious hourly entries for those who want to count how many ginger snaps we can eat, or who desperately want to try to look “busy at work” instead of arguing with your family members over the best way to cook sweet potatoes. 

Day One, Monday, November 14th
We awoke to find fog concealing the marina inlet. This gave us a good opportunity to take Hastings on a long walk, enjoy our coffee and breakfast and chat with neighbors. By 10:30AM the fog had lifted and we were on our way! We were pushed out the inlet at 9 knots and watched dolphins surfing the waves; a good omen at the start of a voyage. 

We’ve been anticipating this passage south for a long time we’re pleased as punch to actually be underway. It was an overcast day and we made about 6 knots close hauled (sailing with the wind in your face - this is like walking uphill) 

Melissandre would say “The night is long and full of terrors”. This is mostly true, but I think she’s a little negative. Maybe she needs better snacks to help her out. 
Fog at Bald Head Island, N.C. 
Goodbye "Old Baldy", the 1817 lighthouse
Departing Cape Fear Inlet
Tedious Minutiae for the Really Bored, or those looking for a sleep aid. 
10:30AM Depart marina and make 9 knots out the inlet!
10:36AM We’re in the ocean and watching dolphins surf waves to the beach. A good omen!
10:45AM Sails up, engines off. 3.5 knots in 7 knots of wind, close hauled
11:03AM Ginger Snap
11:15AM Banana 
11:30AM 6 knots in 10 knots of wind, close hauled. 3-5 foot swell, but feels negligible compared to the choppy bays we have beaten through. Who knew the ocean was kinder than a bay?
11:45AM Mustard delivery vehicle (hot dogs), salt and vinegar chips, fun size Almond Joy
1:11PM Jib in, Starboard Stan on. We were tacking into Cape Fear’s separation zone and need to motor to keep on a course outside the zone. Lemon drop.
1:35PM 4 dolphins portside!
2:37PM Motor off, 6 knots in 13 knots of wind, still close hauled, which is like the downwind sailing every forecast said to expect, but different.
3:30PM Tea and chocolate biscuits
4:20PM Drizzling rain with storm clouds and lightning on the horizon. We reefed the main in case of higher winds in the storm. ("Reefing" involves making the main sail shorter. This reduces the chance we will be overpowered by wind. If you leave "full sail" up and get really high winds, a catamaran like ours runs the risk of being capsized or the mast breaking. This would make everyone sad.) 
4:21PM Reefing the main has caused the rain to stop and the storm clouds to vanish. Good job, us!
5:12PM Sunset, unnoticed due to clouds. Getting cold.
5:20PM Dolphins! Baby dolphins! Leaping by the bow!
5:30PM Glad we figured out how to set the auto pilot to the wind angle. It’s keeping us a 35 degrees off the wind, as close hauled as we can get, and and near to our course as possible. Dinner: Ready to heat spinach and chick pea curry. The dolphins stayed throughout dinner.
6PM. Sticky rice treat with the left over rice from dinner. Matt is on the first night watch (yep, it is pitch black at 6PM!) The waves feel bigger, but I think it’s just the darkness. Hastings decided his duty is to keep the off watch person company. 
10PM.Matt gave me 4 hours off-watch. No wonder it seemed like a very long 3 hours! I don't think I slept at all. The first part of the night I laid there thinking about Matt being washed over, and how I would get up, discover he was missing, set a GPS marker, turn around, follow my course back while trying to figure out which way the waves would have taken him and calling the Coast Guard. I wondered how cold the water was and how much battery the lights on our PFDs have. (We have Personal Locater Beacons, attached to our life jackets, that would send out a signal to our GPS in the event of a crisis, but nighttime anxieties are rarely rational) 

Then I moved on to more important concerns; what kind of snack would I have when it was my watch? Would I start with a granola bar, or a Reese’s? Will I feel like making brownies tomorrow? Also, why does it sound like the boat is tearing apart? Our boat is so loud when beating into the wind! It creaks (this is a production boat issue I think), and waves slam between the hulls (this is a catamaran issue). It is really loud! 

How are the boats we have been tracking? Is Tango still abeam us? Is that Matt clanking, or is that more boat noises? I wonder how fast we are sailing. During our previous passages, the wind usually dies at night and we slow right down to 3 knots and sometimes motor. I haven't heard the motor come on, but Matt did say we were doing this trip for free no matter how long it took. 

Maybe I’ll start with a lemon drop. Maybe there’s some sticky rice left! This isn’t good. We’re 10 hours into our passage and I’m going crazy. That’s 1/10th of the way. Reese's. That’s what I’ll start with. Oh, ginger snap! Yeah! Ginger snaps are the best. They’re yummy without being too sweet and supposedly help keep the mal de mar at bay. 
10:32PM. Listening to a Dave Barry audiobook. It’s set on Key Biscayne in Miami, our destination. Gotta get mentally ready for the craziness that is Miami!
Super moon and two sailboats are keeping me company. Tango, on the AIS, is 2 miles ahead, and an unknown boat is about 2 miles behind. Are they headed to Charleston or will they keep going? We’ll find out tomorrow morning! (We have a send and receive AIS system. Other boats with AIS send their position to us, and we can see them on our GPS. It's really handy at night because I struggle to tell how fast a boat is going; the AIS tracks speeds and directions and warns us if we are getting too close to another boat. We also have radar which will pick up other boats and even navigation markers) 
11PM Reese’s snack
11:30PM Passing Georgetown, S.C. - Winyah Bay inlet. Tango moves to our port side. The appearance of their green running light takes me a while to figure out!
Midnight - Tuesday, Nov 15th - finish off the salt and vinegar chips.
1:30AM-Off watch after 3.5 hours
5AM - back on watch after 3.5 hours of sleep. It was hard to get myself back out of bed! Wind has died to 7-8 knots, speed is 3.7 knots. When the sun rises, we will take out the reef and get more speed. 15 miles from Charleston - I can see ships in the distance and lots of AIS targets. We have overtaken Tango instead of being neck and neck. I guess he is a sailing purist also as he is trailing us at a snail’s pace. 
6:15AM - sunrise, joined by 3 dolphins for about 10 minutes. I think Tango has given up and is motorsailing - they’ve smoked us while we dodder at 3 knots. 

7AM - granola bar 

What's your go to snack to keep you awake at night?
Check back on Friday to see how many lemon drops I can eat on Day 2! 

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  1. The best way to cook sweet potatoes is to not cook them. That's one of the things I always pass quickly to the person next to me at the table and skip putting anything on my plate. I like the format of splitting the passage posts into two. I personally read all the way through because I'm very interested in the number of ginger snaps you ate.

    1. Ok, so no pumpkin and no sweet potatoes....you sound like a picky Thanksgiving eater! I like sweet potato fries with a garlic dip. Matt likes a casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows! Talk about sugar overload!

  2. I read all the way through too . . . and laughed out loud because it all sounds so familiar (minus the lemon drops). But I'm going to disagree with Ellen. The best way to cook sweet potatoes is to roast them, preferably with other veggies!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    1. That sounds healthier than Matt's marshmallow topped ones. I bet it's pretty good!

  3. All the snacks almost makes a night passage fun! I personally like the fact how I don't feel guilty eating them, since I feel I deserve them on a long trip. While I never eat candy, on our week long passage to the Galapagos, I envisioned them every single night. Then a friend from Belgium visited me there and brought me a full bag. Such a treat on our next, three week passage across the Pacific! :-) Since then (2013) I haven't touched candy anymore. I'm worried it will remind me of those long, uncomfortable passages!

    1. What a great mind reading friend! I should do a study on why road trips and night sails encourage snacking. Is it boredom?

  4. I assume it offers distraction. Tasty distraction at that. You might be right that it is boredom, because, when we are busy, we don't snack. Ever. Of course.


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