A Few Statistics Update
21 December 2018 | Jolly Harbor Marina, Antigua, W.I.
Beautiful weather, clear skies, warm not too hot temps
Over coffee this morning I went back over our track to determine actual miles traveled from Rio Dulce to Jolly Harbor:
Great Circle distance: 1,556 nautical miles
Actual track distance: 2,021 nautical miles
This represents some 30% extra miles most attributed to tacking, tacking and more tacking.
A side note about Lucky Bird's ability to sail close to the wind. In winds of 12 knots or less, with full sails she does pretty well going to windward. We can usually count on being inside of 45 degrees. Now start reefing and that changes dramatically. Typically roller reefed head sails do not perform well close hauled and boy can I confirm that aboard LB. It's hard to take but with strong winds and reefs in both sails we were tacking through 100 - 110 degrees and that's a huge ARG!!
At times it almost seemed we were headed right back where we had just come from. Not really, but having sailed our other boats, J/105 and a Beneteau First 42 where I could easily sail through 90 degrees, our situation on this passage being entirely upwind added miles and miles.
We consider ourselves fairly seasoned sailors. We've completed many long distance ocean passages and at the outset in Rio Dulce we were quite optimistic regarding this passage. We were actually looking forward to getting back to sea and yet 2,021 miles upwind became daunting at times. So how about a couple of lessons learned.
1. Avoid setting schedules with hard dates, if possible.
When cruising, sailing to a schedule with a hard finish date will up the stress levels, will necessitate moving when your better judgment says relax and wait.
2. Plug the whole the chain passes through into the chain locker.
We were sailing one night, with moderate seas, Lucky Bird burying her bow into the larger waves when the bilge pump light in the cockpit lit up. What is that? I went below lifted the floor boards and sure enough there was water. Where was it coming from? It's about now, at night, that your minds starts suggesting not so nice things. The more I looked it seemed to be coming from the bow.
LB has a covered bow locker. Close the hatch and you're good to go, right? Not so fast. The locker has a drain that exits about half way down the bow. Each time LB dove into a wave, it was like spraying a fire hose into the locker and much of that water found its way down the chain hole. I knew that but had totally forgot to put into on the pre-passage check list. Stuffed the hole around the chain and we once again had dust bunnies in the bilge.
3. Stay further offshore than you feel is necessary.
Unlike the US where lobster fishermen, persons, use buoys that are easily spotted, down here they use clear plastic bottles strung together to make about a six to ten foot floating line. We were kind of aware of this potential hazard but slipped up one night and hooked one. Stay off shore at least past the 100 fathom line and even then off Nevis we found some in well over 600 feet.
4. Reefing at night.
With an in mast furling system, be careful reefing the main to be sure to make it as tight a furl as possible. Again, we know that but during the heat of battle we just needed to get the main in and yup, we got a furl overlap that as I sit here this morning I now have to figure out how to undo it.
5. Nigh time watches.
On most passages I've used the 4,4,4,3,3,3,3 watch system starting at 12:00. For us, that's too long at night unless the weather is cooperating. At times one hour on, one hour off works the best. The off-watch person sleeps in the cockpit and is quickly available to react. When using the autopilot it's often easy to dose off and catch a couple of sleep minutes while on watch. Check the AIS and Radar out some 8 miles and if nothing, relax.
Our Autopilot quit about half way through the trip and despite my diligent efforts to coax it back to life it refused. So, hand steering the rest of the way and that's when to one on one off became a necessity.
6. Break up the monotony with music.
Each CD would run for about an hour, just about your watch. We played most of our collection nights on the trip.
7. Recognize the need to decompress, relax after a difficult passage.
When we reached a safe anchorage after getting beat up for many hours we took the time to help each other slow down, reflect and rest. Having a schedule made it a little harder to stop long enough to fully re-cooperate.
So since I've avoided getting to work on the main sail problem by writing, now, it's time, wish me luck.
Merry Christmas to All