We have been home for about 2 weeks now, and our cruising life is fast becoming a distant memory! Safari Tu is out in Newport harbor, and I think she is starting to feel a bit lonely without us aboard...
Key things we've been enjoying on land: unlimited ice, dishwasher, laundry machine, no need to close all the windows when it rains, sundowners on the front porch.
Key things we've been missing from the cruising life: amazingly clear water, fresh breezes, random people coming up to our boat and saying hello, sundowners in the cockpit.
Many people have asked us "what was your favorite place on the trip?" and we find it difficult to answer this question... favorite place for what? For relaxing? For adventure? There were so many great places along the way, it's tough to answer. If pressed, I guess some of our best memories were from our time in Dominca (friendly people, amazing hiking and landscape, awesome fruits) and the island of Bequia in the Grenadines (picturesque harbor, nice beaches, quaint little town, multi-boat barbeque on the beach).
One of the best things about our trip was meeting other cruisers from all over the world! Sometimes we spent weeks "buddy-boating" with people we met, while other times we only had a day or two together before going our separate ways. We made a bunch of friendships that will last for a long time.
Special thanks to Mark for being our property manager / mail handler / problem solver while we were away - couldn't have done it without you. Thanks as well to Cindy for being our lead "shore crew" person during our long passages. Big thanks to Noel for helping us make our first offshore trip from Virginia to Bermuda, and thanks as well to our first-class crew for our other long passages: Matt, Roth, Amelia and Grant.
Thanks for tuning into our blog - hope you liked all the pictures and stories. If you want more, just come and visit us in Newport! You can continue to reach us via: email@example.com. Don't forget to check out our last batch of photos from the Bahamas back to Newport.
Lots of love,
Scott & Jen & Anna & Matthew
Trip Stats (for the numerically-inclined)
Days away: 327
Miles traveled: 5818 nm
Engine hours: 713 hrs (! - not much wind in the Bahamas this season...)
Countries visited: 15
Ti-Punches imbibed: unknown
(The lead photo is a photo taken of Safari Tu arriving in Newport early in the morning on July 1st by sister-in-law Dana who got up early to wave us in with our 3-year old niece!!)
We are in the home stretch - should arrive Newport tomorrow morning!
Yesterday we had the spinnaker up for a few more hours as we sailed towards the very busy shipping lanes heading into metro NY. Luckily we have AIS, a system that shows the location, speed and course of the really big boats right on our chart plotter at the helm. It's sort of like playing Asteroids, where you have to dodge all the incoming dots on the screen.
Then the winds frustratingly backed from W to NW and then finally to NNE - not helpful. And then the seas got very choppy as winds built to 20-25. So much for the forecast of 15-20 knots from the NW. So it was an ugly, bouncy night and we didn't get much sleep. Actually Jen didn't sleep at all during the night, but she slept for about 6 hours solid today.
Today has been much better - we had to motor quite a while but the seas have calmed, the sun came out and the winds finallly are in the right direction. Right now we are about 40 miles off of Montauk Pt at the eastern end of Long Island. We spotted a few whales yesterday, one of them spouting very large plumes of water high into the air - haven't seen that before.
We'll send out a final update tomorrow - talk to you soon!
Scott & Jen & Grant & Amelia
Weds June 30
COG = 095M
SOG = 5-6 knots
What a difference 24 hours can make... Boy, mother nature was in charge last night as we passed the entrance to Chesepeake Bay and approached Ocean City, MD. We were alerted to severe thunderstorms by our weather router, then we heard the warnings on the VHF radio and began to see giant thunderheads developing even bigger as they approached the sea around 6pm. We shortened sail, battened all the hatches, got out the wet weather gear, stripped the deck of all extra equipment and got ready for the worst.
Turns out we made a lucky guess as to the location of the most severe lightning and slowed the boat down to hold our position in between 2 big thunderheads. Grant steered us between them and we didn't have to endure the 30-50 knot winds that were forecast. 6 hours after arriving, the worst was over and we were left with cloudy skies and damp conditions, but not much rain.
While off North Carolina we had water temperatures near 90 degrees, right now the sea temp is only 67 degrees!! We actually had to dig out sheets and blankets for the first time in many months last night. The idea of socks is no longer totally revolting, but I still plan to go sockless as long as possible.
This morning we sighted land for the first time in about 6 days. We crossed the entrance to Delaware Bay and then went past Cape May and Atlantic City NJ. We were so close to land that we had working cell phone signals and could even get on the internet.
We are now heading for a waypoint at the end of Long Island, and from there its a short 40 mile run to Newport. Possibility of fog and squalls later tonight, but it's sunny with a nice breeze at the moment, flying the spinnaker again. Looks like we'll arrive July 1 - either very early in the morning, or we might slow the boat down so as to arrive at daybreak.
We'll send another update tomorrow.
Scott & Jen & Amelia & Grant
Tuesday June 29
SOG 5.5 knots
Good day all.
Day 5, getting a bit tired, ready for a long shower. After passing Hatteras without incendent (so we thought) there were some ugly short choppy seas that made last night a bit uncomfortable. It got really damp and soggy - probably something to do with all the hot gulf stream water and air intersecting the cooler (84 degree) waters off North Carolina. Plus there were some pretty impressive thunderheads in the distance. So we were happy when morning broke and things got a bit more predictable.
We passed the Abermarle Sound about 50 miles offshore early this morning - we waved to Nana & Grandpa! Today the breeze has been a very fresh 20-25 knots - we are sailing along under reefed main and headsail at about 6-7 knots in a moderate NE'ward swell. We are heading towards land to hide a bit from the winds and waves which are supposed to build until early am. We expect to be off Ocean City, MD around 1am.
Fish report: This morning spotted something big and greenish/blueish in the water dead ahead of us, 6 boat lengths away. A small whale maybe? Then suddenly the fishing line went and we saw the big thing again dive down. Lost our red and black lure - the metal shackle broke clean off. Had a big nibble on the silver plug lure, but whoever it was didn't like the taste of the hook and spit it back out.
If we get close enough to land for a cell phone signal, we might just give some of you a call!
Scott & Jen & Grant & Amelia
Monday June 28
SOG 6 knots
06/27/2010, Cape Hatteras
We are still HOT but doing well on our passage to Newport. Right now we are passing Cape Hatteras in mild seas, moderate winds and clear skies - can't ask for more than that! But in case you want more, the Gulf Stream is giving us a final push of about 3.3 knots, enabling us to make 9.0+ knots speed over ground. Soon, the Gulf Stream will head east out to sea, while we will head NE to Newport. We are about halfway through our trip.
More excitement last night - one of the wire lines holding our dingy up on the davits broke, leaving half the dinghy dangling in the water as we sailed along at 7.0 knots. We were able to get it hoisted again and double tied on with bits of rope.
Had a lot of swell and confused seas throughout most of the night so it wasn't that comfortable, but we were rewarded this morning with 2 Mahi Mahi on the lines at once! We hauled both on deck (each about 2 ft long) but while we were cleaning the fish, a wave hit and one of the fish slid across the deck, over the other fish and plopped right into the water. We briefly considered launching a man overboard maneuver to retrieve the bright green fish, but we will still have plenty of fish to feed everyone tonight.
There is still a small chance that we will need to divert into Norfolk or Ocean City MD because of some weather off NY later this week- we will know more tomorrow.
Scott, Jen, Grant & Amelia
06/26/2010, Passing Charleston, SC
We are doing well, although it is HOT here in the middle of the gulf stream. Winds filled in a bit, and we have been sailing extensively with our spinnaker, which is a fun novelty for us. It does really well in the light and downwind winds we've been experiencing. The current picked up to 3.5-4.0 knots, so we've been making good time.
Around sunset last night, a group of dolphins came to swim in our bow wave - got some good pictures in the fading light of day.
Had a bit of excitement at 4am (why always in the middle of the night??) when a metal shackle holding the top of the spinnaker blew out and the entire sail dropped into the water. Amelia called all hands on deck and we quickly recovered the sail (some of us in our underwear) and later today we replaced the part under the guidance of Grant, our Chief Spinnaker Officer.
We are now roughly even with Charleston, heading for Cape Hatteras. We are watching the weather carefully to make sure we past the Cape when seas and winds are calm.
Scott & crew
Saturday June 26
SOG 7.1 knots (nearly half our speed coming from the gulf stream)