Martha’s Vineyard: The continuing adventures

Well, the Martha’s Vineyard trip did not go quite as planned. But, then, the nature of adventure is that nothing ever goes as planned. I did make it, though not by my preferred method of sailboat…Mother Nature put the kibosh on that (see: Plans subject to reality). And neither did my attempt to hitch a ride with my buddy Brian on his power boat, Bella Lisa…

The evening before I drove to Rhode Island and camped out on Bella Lisa in order to get a good start in the morning. The weather was perfect. Off we went into sunny skies on Friday (15 June 2012) with everything running as it should. It was, simply, a marvelous day for the trip. Until we heard a sudden crap your pants loud bang from the stern. Brian was at the helm and quickly pulled the throttle back after which the motor stalled. Uh oh. After checking that we weren’t sinking (the stupid seats over the engine room hatch didn’t want to come undone), we discovered that the outdrive unit had seriously failed. We couldn’t tell how bad it was; but we knew our trip was done. TowBoatUS came out to tow us the forty miles home.

We actually were crossing two TowBoatUS coverage zones so there was a handoff in the middle. The first, smaller, towboat pulled us at a comfortable 10 MPH or so until somewhere near Newport (I guess…fuzzy memory already). So far, so good. After transferring to the second bigger and faster towboat, though, we heard a disconcerting banging from the stern. Another quick and worried examination (after once again checking that we weren’t sinking) showed the busted outdrive flopping around in the wake. Not a good thing. We had the towboat driver stop for a bit so we could secure the outdrive with some line, and then proceeded slower back home. It was a long trip and we could tell the towboat driver really wanted to go faster (he asked several times if he could pick up the speed); but the smart thing was to go slow, and slow we went.

There is some coolness factor here, though. We were actually towed right across the start line of the Newport-Bermuda race and got to see the start. We also got to see a rather awesome airshow put on by the U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds that passed directly overhead. Very, very cool.

The marina was waiting for us when we finally arrived and brought us right into the slings and out of the water. We could finally get a good view of the damage and it was sobering. The outdrive had sheared completely off the mount and was only being held on by a rubber bellows. Had that bellows let go there would have been a good size hole in the boat below the waterline. Good size holes below the waterline tend to lead to unexpected swims. Happily, while the repair is likely to be very expensive, at least the boat remained floating. Fingers crossed that insurance helps out some.

We didn’t waste much time upon getting back to land. We took some pictures, unloaded the boat, jumped in the car, and made the best time we could to Woods Hole where we jumped on the ferry. Happily the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground was not over crowded and we were able to get a cabin for us and several friends who where to join us on Saturday.

The rest of the trip was a lot of fun and a lot less exciting. We met up with a gang of friends here and there on Friday evening and Saturday. Saturday morning on the Ferry more friends arrived and went with us as we toured the island via rental car. We ate a lot. We drank a lot. And we basically crammed as much vacation in as we could before grabbing the ferry home Sunday evening. Exhausting. Expensive. But a blast! : , , , ,

Feed from:

Plans subject to reality

Plans were subject to reality. And the reality was that the ocean forecast was not conducive for this trip. At times, winds were forecast up to 35 knots (I think…I’ve read so many forecasts they are beginning to blend together), and seas as high as 10 feet. I don’t think survival of the boat was really in question here, as the boat is pretty seaworthy. These conditions, though, are more than I’ve personally taken her out in; and my enthusiasm for getting beat up was limited. Just sailing two long days up to the C&D and back really wore me out. Three (or more) days in junk would be, uh, not fun. And fun is the point, after all. Besides, Godot doesn’t go to weather in 30 knots of wind (and to weather I would have had to go). I’ve tried, and it was unsuccessful. She doesn’t do that great in 25 either. I suppose I could have just heaved to, but that is hardly helping me get to Martha’s Vineyard in time. Schedules and sailboats don’t mix.

Regarding the heavier wind, after having trouble the first time in 30 knots (could only tack 90 degrees to the wind), I did have a second reef put in my mains’l. With my existing 100% (or so) jib the boat just didn’t balance right and I actually had a worse tacking angle. This surprised and distressed me. So I bought a new reefable “storm” jib. The quotations are because I am not sure if this really qualifies from a sail maker’s point of view as a storm jib do to material weight and size; but it is smaller and of heavier sail material, and it is essentially two jibs as it has a reefing point. I have not tested this sail and it is possible that I can handle stronger wind to weather now; but I figure an ocean passage (even a relatively short coastal passage like this one) is not the place to be experimenting. Hopefully I’ll have a chance this summer to get out in some local junk and try it out.

Regarding the waves, I’m just not sure what to expect with ten footers. If they were long rollers it would hardly matter, as it is little different from driving up and down hills. If they are short period it would be washing machine rough and perhaps damaging to the boat (and skipper). What do I get 20-30 miles offshore? I’m not quite sure, and running outside to find out seems less than ideal. I was really looking for under six foot waves (they can be unpleasant enough). 8-10? No. At least, not yet.

So, reality says no. I’ll drive up instead, and hope to catch a ride on a buddies power boat. With luck the low pressure system will have cleared out by then and we will be OK for our shorter trip.

Feed from:

Maybe some other time

Somethings just aren’t meant to be. Like a lovely little sail to Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve been facing challenges the past couple weeks just getting the boat ready, which delayed departure by several days, and has left me in a rather sleep deprived state (if I were to depart this morning, I would have had to do it by three AM in order to count on making it to Cape May by midnight…Sandman says “no”). And now with a deep low pressure system moving down from New England, the weather forecast just doesn’t look good (15-25 knots, seas building to 6-9 feet by Thursday). It’s nothing the boat shouldn’t be able to safely handle. But it would be brutally uncomfortable, would likely over exhaust me to a point which exceeds my safe operating threshold, may stress the capabilities of the autopilot, is opening up the possibility of boat damage, and is causing me great concern that I never found the time to install jack lines (although I did happily install some hard points). With competent crew I might make the attempt. Single handed, however, it just isn’t prudent.

I may give back a couple weeks of vacation and just plan on taking it in September for my normal sailing trip. Given how much work I’ve feverishly put into the boat of late, though, I think I’m going to take a few days to sail around locally. I mean, she is as ready as she has ever been.

Feed from:


As near as I can tell, the weather will actually be pretty good. I want to get through Delaware Bay tomorrow, though, as the wind turns Easterly (the wrong direction for an easy sail) on Monday with waves increasing to 2-3 feet. Delaware Bay is rather shallow and is home of the famous Square Wave formed when tide and wind are opposite. Three feet waves would likely be uncomfortable.

Happily the Atlantic GRIBs look pretty much ideal. There are a couple pockets of 25-30 knots wind forecast late in the week; but they seem pretty small, so are hopefully avoided. I can handle 30 knots. It isn’t very comfortable, and Godot doesn’t do well to weather in that strength; but it looks like I’ll be on a broad reach even if the pattern shifts a bit and I end up hitting it. I have two reef points in my main and a reef-able “storm” jib (maybe a little bigger than a proper storm jib; but I’m not really expecting to hit a proper storm) so I should be fine. Twenty knots wind looks not unlikely, so I’ll probably have at least one reef in for a big portion of the trip anyhow.

Too much to do prior to departure…Gotta run. Most updates will likely come from the SPOT page, although I may get a short post or two up from the cell-phone. I’ll try and do a recap at some point.

Feed from:

Almost ready to go

A hugely productive day, yet there always seems to be more to do.

New head (porta-potty style toilet) installed. That was a pain. It’s an MSD version so it is plumbed for deck pump out. Not as easy as it looks.

Water fill moved far away from the head waste deck fitting. Way more time consuming than expected because the old water fill was one inch while the new one is inch and a half. Sounds easy; but I spent too much time running around looking for parts. I do feel better now that the opportunity for contamination has been eliminated.

Mainsail bent on. Storm jib set up and tested. Broken cleat replaced. New deck cleat installed.

Jeez, it seemed like I did so much more. But this is enough. The major projects are all done. I need to install the new cockpit locker seat tops (the epoxy hadn’t cured when I left for the marina this morning), which hopefully won’t take much more than an hour or two. And the boat needs to be cleaned and organized. And provisioned. And I need to finish getting the dinghy put back together (shouldn’t take too long) and somehow find a way to get it to the boat (I miss my truck).

Mow the lawn. Grab the cat. And away I go.

I hope to leave by 1600 or so, and make it to Veazey Cove. The weather report suggests that Monday is not a particularly great day to head down the Delaware Bay (contrary wind), so I’m going to try and make it all the way to Cape May on Sunday. That will be something like a 16 hour day. Long, but nothing I haven’t done before. It looks like the wind is really going to pick up (as in 40 knots up) late next week, so I don’t want to dally. If I can leave Cape May on Monday, I hope to be able to get to Martha’s Vineyard as early as late Wednesday, or maybe sometime Thursday (even averaging 3 knots I should be there by early Friday). This should keep me ahead of the junk. I think.

Plans are subject to reality. We’ll see how it all works out.

Feed from:


A quick note on the SPOT…I am providing public tracking through the share service on findmespot and through Spot Adventures. I really don’t know how well they work, so it should be interesting to see how this all works out.

The links…

It will doubtless be a learning experience.

Feed from:

The motor Lives!

Preps continue. The big news…the motor runs!

But, of course, I underestimated how long the remaining projects will take. It looks like a Friday departure is unlikely as I need one more day to get things well enough in order (and Friday just happens to be my next day off). Oh, well. There should be enough time built into the plan to still get me to Martha’s Vineyard on time.

Feed from:

Sailing to Martha’s Vineyard: Float Plan

I have been planning a trip for about a year now. I’m going to sail my little Seafarer (departing, hopefully, this Friday) to Martha’s Vineyard for a shindig over Father’s Day Weekend. I may have hinted at it in some previous posts; but now it looks like I’m actually going to get everything (or at least the important things) done. I need to run to the marina; but in the meantime, in order to keep those in the know, in the know, here is the planning I have done. Bear in mind that a wide range of events could cause an alteration to these plans. I have a new SPOT Connect by Spot that I will hopefully be able to use to send tracking information and float plan information to those who want to know. I’m going to try and link it to this blog, as well.

In any case, here is the float plan. I’ve got a pdf file as well.

Gotta run. Still lots of work to do…

Feed from:

Preppin’ for the Vineyard

In the extremely short time of one week from today, I will, in theory, be setting off on a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. The route will take me from Middle River on the Chesapeake, up through the C&D canal, down the Delaware River and Delaware Bay, through the the Cape May canal to Cape May, and finally direct offshore from Cape May, NJ to Martha’s Vineyard. Theoretically. If I can get everything together in time. Fingers crossed.

The issue is that Godot (my Seafarer 24) is in need of some work. I’ve been feverishly working on getting my projects done in my frustratingly limited amount of free time. I’m getting close. LED nav lights are installed. My bow pulpit has been repaired. My mainsail is ready to be picked up. My replacement cockpit seat hatches are half built, and will hopefully be finished in a few easy evenings of work. My new anchor roller with my new Claw anchor is installed. My replacement fore-hatch is in need of paint; but otherwise pretty much ready to be bolted on. My replacement hatch-boards are done well enough. The projects should pretty much all be adequately ready to go by next Friday, mostly just needing paint to be finished. I can wait on the paint until I get back, I think.

Unfortunately, I still have one MAJOR problem. The stupid outboard motor won’t start. I hate motors. Hate them. But they are a necessary evil for getting in/out of marinas, and through various harbor entrances. I suppose I might be able to deal without having a motor for those times, although as a single hander now-a-days, it does make things rather tricky. But the one thing I absolutely can not do without a motor is transit the C&D canal. It simply isn’t permitted. To go around Delmarva the long way is simply not practical with the amount of vacation time I have. The motor is make or break.

I’m working Saturday; but I have Sunday and Monday off. Sunday is motor day. Here’s hoping I can figure out what the stupid beast is up to.

Feed from: