12 July 2016
After almost two months at sea and more than 5,000 miles, Issuma reached Norfolk, Virginia. This was both my longest passage and my longest singlehanded passage.
The trip started with great winds, and was very easy up to the ITCZ (Doldrums). The ITCZ was not difficult, just a little less than very easy. The last third of the trip, when the wind went light while near the Bermuda high, was much more exercise. Light winds made self-steering more difficult, and slowed the boat down in the hot, sunny weather. I put aluminum foil inside the pilothouse windows to lower the inside temperature (lots of clear windows are nice for bringing in warmth in Antarctica, but not so nice in the tropics).
The jib furler bearings seized up about half-way thru the trip. I had spare bearings, but replacing those bearings involves disconnecting the jibstay, which I did not want to do at sea. I considered stopping in Bermuda to replace the bearings, but, since it was hurricane season, I thought it best to just hurry up and get to Norfolk. So I raised and lowered the jib as needed, and each time thought about how great roller furling is when it is working :).
I spent a few days SE of Cape Hatteras, waiting for some cold fronts to pass before crossing the Gulf Stream. This gave me a great opportunity to fix a few things and get some rest. Thanks to George, Victor and Rick for helping out with Gulf Stream current and weather information by email.
In light, pleasant, winds, I sailed towards Chesapeake Bay. As the winds died, I lowered sails and began motoring. As I approached the opening in the Bay Bridge/Tunnel, I decided to put some more fuel in the daytank to ensure the engine would not run out of fuel at a bad time. Unfortunately, I also transferred some water to the day tank--when I saw that, I quickly drained the water from the water separators, got out of the channel and anchored.
Anchoring took about 25 minutes because I had not anchored for three months and a lot of warm salt water had washed across the deck, rusting up the safety turnbuckle that holds the anchor in place when offshore, and waves had confused the chain pile so the chain did not want to feed out.
After anchoring, I got all the water out of the fuel tank, but then the engine would not start. This was due to discharged starting batteries, but I did not realize that (I was tired) until after cleaning up all the connections between the starting batteries and starter solenoid. Tried starting the portable generator to charge the batteries, but the generator sounded like it had thrown its connecting rod and it would not charge. Booster cables from one house battery to the starting batteries got the motor running and then I motored past the bridge/tunnel in time to anchor in a thunderstorm just after dark.
After a night of peaceful sleep, I motored into Willoughby Bay and docked at the ever-helpful Rebel Marina in Willoughby.
Though towards the end I was usually very busy, this was my most enjoyable passage to date. The weather was good, there were no major problems (and the minor ones were all dealt with) and there was a kind of serenity involved with this passage that is hard to describe, but enjoyable.
Picture was taken relatively near Bermuda, by the sloop Meridian, which was returning to Boston after the Newport-Bermuda Race.