Voyages of Cour Volant

02 December 2008 | Tortola BVI
28 August 2008 | Oriental NC
18 June 2008 | Oriental NC

Another sucessful voyage

02 December 2008 | Tortola BVI
After delays getting out of Charleston, SC, the new charter built Jeanneau 393 was ready to set sail. Many people ask me, especially those that are traditionalists why I would take such a lightly built boat offshore and was I apprehensive about it. My usual answer is that since the boat is brand new and is a tested design I am normally comfortable. Of course there are always little things that need to be addressed along the way, but most times we get there just fine.
I've recently experienced more heavy weather aboard these light modern boats and would like to add my thoughts to their handling in such conditions.
Our old standby heavy weather sailing books were written in a time of more heavily displacement, solid fiberglass hulls were being built in the 60-80's. These techniques are solid and I would not hesitate to employ them on such a boat in heavy conditions. But our modern boats, some of which are very light, behave a little differently but can be just as safe an any old seafaring hull from the early days of fiberglass.
Benefits of modern boat design. First of all these boats are fast. My most recent experience involved a gale in the Atlantic off the coast of the Bahamas. We had called our weather router about an impending low coming off the east coast. He instructed us to change course and make way to a way point almost due south to get out of the worst of the storm. On a beam reach we were able to sail a little less than 200 miles south in a 24 hour period and did not suffer the worst of the gale. Our 39 footer averaged 7.5 knots. In this case our lighter displacement translated in speed to safety, which I consider a positive.
Another positive aspect to modern light displacement boats is buoyancy. Those of you that have ever been caught side to a big wave know what I'm talking about. In my old heavy displacement boat, that sit stoutly in the water, we would get very wet, roll a good deal and would do everything not to get caught beam on to a sea.
The modern boats I tend to deliver offshore have no problem taking a beam sea. Even a steep 15 foot swell never knocks her on her ear, since the boat is so buoyant. Running we almost never get pooped since the light transom is just lifted over the crest. And if a wave does catch us from behind the open transom lets the water exit very quickly and does not depend on scuppers, that may get clogged, to exit the water flow.

Things to consider and watch out for. Watch your sail area, since these boats are so light, you need to reef and reef often. I have found that on the charter built boats that we deliver offshore that the slab reefing system is set up with two, very shallow reef points. This is perfectly adequate for trade wind sailing, like the conditions in the Caribbean but causes problems in dealing with heavy weather offshore. Even though for years I dogged the stow away mainsails that have become so popular, now that I own a boat with one I not only appreciate the benefits and safety but love the nearly endless options available in order to balance out the boat in any wind conditions. Where as the decision to reef on our traditionally rigged boat comes with much anxiety, along with the anxiety and risk of dousing the sail from having to go forward. Of course most of these times happen at night and in worsening conditions so the entire crew is awakened and suited up for the task. Offshore single handing on CourVolant is made much simpler by just rolling in the main to the desired level. It takes less than a minute, is done from the complete safety of the cockpit and the crew never looses a minute of much needed sleep. And since I can stow the main to almost any degree, the boat stays more balanced and thus handles wind and wave much better, staying on her feet more redly. I have never had any problems with the never systems in rolling the sails in. The only problem I have had is in rolling them out but that is due to the furling line either swelling or chafing in the drum, which can be eliminated by using a better quality and sometimes smaller diameter line.

What if things get really bad. Another voyage we had on a 41' Beneteau in storm force winds off the coast of Cuba we had steep short period swell of over 25 feet. The boat and auto pilot where not coming into sync with the conditions and our mainsail was unable to be doused. After hours hand steering and nearing exhaustion we decided to employ a technique called Forereaching, and it worked brilliantly. We let out just a scarp of the genoa and turned the boat about 15-25 degrees off the wind. The auto pilot was able to hold that course with ease making about 2 knts under about 1000 rpm of the engine. The boat instantly quieted down and we were able to head below and actually play cards and have a much need meal.
I would employ this strategy any time that the wind and sea conditions were not conducive to making way.
The moral of this story is always to avoid any dangerous conditions in any boat but the modern boat has some nice benefits if you do happen to be caught unaware. The ride may not be as gentlemanly as in our older heavy displacement boats but its not too bad and the extra speed will get you to your destination that much faster.

Happy passagemaking.

Preparing to Voyage North

28 August 2008 | Oriental NC
So now the wait begins. With Tropical Storm Hannah approaching on a wayward path all I can do is bite my nails and click back and forth between weather websites. I have learned that a schedule is your worst enemy, but I must befriend this advisary and make it to Newport and be set up in time for the boatshow two weeks from today.
The boat is ready, I am packed and as I sip my rum and coke I think 'now what'. But as the days click away and my enemy soon aproaches, I must have patience and safeguard ship and crew.
The call of the sea is a seductive siren. The thought of leaving cell phone signals behind and days of basking and reading whilst those sweet blue hills roll beneath the hull pushing us ever northward lure me to depart. ....
Back to the 21st century, and to the websites and to storm tracking, and the phone calls. I'll leave my musings for the sea.

Cape Lookout

18 June 2008 | Oriental NC
This blog is about the voyages of the fine ship Cour Volant. Ok, ship may be a streach but in the nice flyer the previous owners gave me, telling me about the name, it said 'Capt. Henry Morgan stole the fine ship Cour Volant' from the unfortunate French Navy. So I'll go with it. Her current home is in Oriental North Carolina and we are cruising in our home waters this summer.
North Carolina has cruising grounds that rival any place I've sailed. Many places are almost untouched by modern civilization and lend themselves to peaceful anchorages and quiet walks on the beach.
One of our favorite places is the bite of Cape Lookout. Only 7km from Beaufort Inlet lies a truly wonderful place. White sand beaches, torquise waters, sea turtles, dolphins, the lighthouse, and a very protected anchorage. The Caribbean? no North Carolina!
We arrived at the bite after a moonlit sail around 11pm Friday and woke up to good coffee and that torquoise water. The Neuse River near Oriental has been plagued with Jelly fish, but there were none at Lookout so we spent most of the day swimming and floating in the water. The Lagerhead Sea Turtles were also out for a swim and I got a few photos, but they somewhat look like the lach ness monster.
Saturday evening a few friends arrived in their boats and Sunday we spent the day doing almost nothing on the beach but watching the sand crabs and the waves roll in. The anchorage by the Lighthouse itself,usually used by smaller boats, was pretty crouded for Lookout. There must have been 15 to 20 small powerboats and their famlies having picknics on the beach. A few beach buggies dotted the north side and there were, as always, lines of white pvc pole holders and 'spider silk' lines cast in the water.
Sunday afternoon we recieved a nice little squall with 40+knt winds for about 1/2 an hour. But by 5pm the whole anchorage was glassy smooth and nicely cooled down by the rain.
Vessel Name: Cour Volant
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 40
Hailing Port: Oriental, NC
Crew: Edana, Bret and Friends
I am USCS licensed captain that loves passage making and sailing to wonderful new places. We are building a marina, geared towards cruisers so cannot get away as much as we like. [...]
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Cour Volant's Photos -

Who: Edana, Bret and Friends
Port: Oriental, NC