We’ve been speeding up this fall as we make our way from the Chesapeake to the Bahamas for the second time and the result has been that we feel we’ve slowed down a bit. We’ve made two off shore overnight jumps instead of sticking with the ICW this time round. This means when we get into port, we stay a while and aren’t too concerned about making miles every day.
Our first jump was from from Beaufort, NC to Charleston, SC on November 6th. The trip took 34 1/2 hours from anchor up to anchor down. We had pretty strong winds from the north for the entire trip for a fast down wind sail.
It was a new experience for us to be sailing down wind for such an extended period of time. In fact, we’ve rarely ever sailed down wind and knowing that the wind would be behind us and possibly moving across our stern during the course of the trip made us seriously start looking at a preventer for the boom. A preventer is a line which is run from the end of the boom to the bow of the boat and back to the cockpit. This line allows you to secure the main sail and “prevent” it from Gybing unintentionally. Since there is only ever one person in the cockpit during the overnight hours, this seemed like a prudent safety measure, one we never needed before. All we required was a block to run the line through at the bow and a length of line that would be long enough for the job. Strangely, we had both on board ready to be put into service.
Tim rigged the line the night before we left and it was INVALUABLE to our comfort and safety on this passage. One of the unexpected bonuses of running this line was that there was no SLAMMING of the rigging! When the wind was lighter in strength and the main sheet would typically slack, the preventer held the boom out, so when the force of the wind was put on the sail again, there was silence, no slamming. This has always driven me crazy when we were sailing on a broad reach in lighter winds. The preventer is awesome at eliminating this jarring noise. The only downside was that we did have to Gybe, twice, during the passage and because we only had one line for this job, after a Gybe, it needed to be re-run on the other side of the boat outside the shrouds. Tim had to go forward to the bow twice in very rolly seas and the pitch black night to complete this task. Tim is always very careful on deck and always clips into the jack lines that are secured on deck to prevent him going overboard should he slip. I don’t fancy either of our chances should he go overboard!!
It was a pretty great passage, even though the winds picked up earlier than expected and the seas built earlier than expected. We ended up sailing for 12 hours + in winds that were 20-30 knots and seas that eventually grew to be the occasional 7 foot waves. A couple of times, I looked behind us and could only see a wall of water, no sky to be seen until the wave slipped under the boat and lifted us to the top. It was unnerving, but strangely not too scary.
Our next weather window to sail from Charleston to Florida would not come for another week, so there was no choice, but to slow down, enjoy Charleston and complete a few boat chores.