Back to Sea: Singlehanding 1,400 Miles from the Virgin Islands to North Carolina

Day 10. In the Gulf Stream making 10 kts.

Sailing home to NC from the Virgin Islands requires thinking about timing.  If you leave too early you can get smashed by powerful low pressure systems coming off the SE US coast in the late spring or early summer as you approach the land.  Also, along the offshore route, once you clear the trade winds just NW of the Virgin Islands, you can sail into an area of high pressure in the Atlantic and lose the wind for days or even weeks. 

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Living Large–Six Months in the Virgin Islands

It was great to be back sailing in the West Indies. I never tire of sailing the Far Reach.

This was my third voyage to the Virgin Islands. I knew the area pretty well. Covid, and the restrictions put in place to limit its spread, definitely changed my experience from previous voyages to the islands—more on that later. Nonetheless, it was worth the considerable effort it takes to get there from the continental US (the details of the 12 day voyage from North Carolina were covered in the previous blog post).

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Last weekend I called a contact number for WordPress Tech support. I got the number from Mr. Google. It turns out it was not WordPress. In fact WordPress does not provide support over the phone. It was a slick operation. I never suspected I was not talking with a WordPress employee. The fake rep asked to screen share. We have all done that with Apple and other tech companies. So I said OK. What he did was download some software on my computer. I saw the curser suddenly uncover my WordPress password. Still posing as a WordPress technician he wanted money to fix a problem that did not exist. He explained it was not covered under my Premier WordPress plan. I said no. He pushed. I pushed back. No, I repeated. I hung up. I immediately changed my password. It was too late.

Fortunately, I received a notice from WordPress via email asking if I meant to delete my last post and thanking me for purchasing a $750 e-commerce plan! I contacted WordPress, this time via chat. The person on the other end was superb. They quickly figured out what happened. They walked me through the steps to look for the offending programs (Zoho a screen sharing app). They refunded the fees the hacker had charged to my account. They thanked me for responding so quickly and suggested since I did not fall for the money scam the hacker retaliated. The tech rep also recommended I call Apple. WordPress said they would look into recovering my posts.

I called Apple Care and they were also superb at walking me through the steps I needed to take to ensure the MacBook was secure. They screen shared (yes I was uneasy) but they explained how I contacted them via the correct phone number and how I could tell it was them. Anyway, they went through my entire hard drive running a virus malware program but only found a few remnants of the Zoho program.

WordPress contacted me the next day and said although they could not recover the deleted posts they did find an archived version and sent it to me to make it easier to repost it which I have done.

Wow. I am careful and cautious on-line but still fell, partially, for a scam. I learned a valuable lesson.

Is the Third Time the Charm? Sailing Back to the Virgin Islands.


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After 1,466 nautical miles, Landfall in the Virgin Islands 15 Dec 2021.

With the selfsteering windvane back in fighting condition we provisioned the Far Reach for our planned six months in the West Indies. Since this was our third voyage there Gayle has gotten pretty good at knowing what we need to purchase here in the states. I have heard sailors argue that “excess storage capacity and heavy provisioning in the states is not necessary since people eat everywhere.” That may be but almost everything in the West Indies costs two to three times what it costs in the states. So, while she worked the provisions I gathered all the tools, gear, equipment, lines, repair parts, books, navigation equipment to include my sextant, snorkel gear, etc that needed to be stowed on the boat. I made lists then began making trips to the marina to get the gear aboard and stowed. I tested my Sony SW7600GR short wave SSB receiver and the long-wire antenna making sure I could get the key stations I needed to be able to hear to get weather. We also test a new piece of equipment for this voyage–a Garmin In-Touch Mini satellite texting device.

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Getting Ready for Sea and Troubleshooting the Cape Horn Windvane



With the engine installed and the FlexOFold prop dialed in I finally managed some time to take the Far Reach out on a four day cruise. It had been nearly two years since I had spent any significant time on the boat while underway. I needed to check the engine and the overall condition of the running and standing rigging as well as op-check the boat’s systems, simple though they are, before making the long sail to the Virgin Islands in November. On 10 August I motored the boat down the ICW from the Neuse River to

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Getting the FlexOFold Propeller Right

As part of the new engine installation and modification I installed a two blade FlexOFold propeller.

With the boat back in the water the most pressing issue was to get the propeller pitch right. Farron Peffer at Beta Marine was adamant that we should strive to get the max RPM at wide open throttle (WOT) within 50 RPMs of the designed 3,600 RPM. He explained that even though we might never operate at max RPM having the pitch and diameter of the propeller correct would insure the engine was operating in its sweet spot at any RPM and would not be working in an overloaded capacity which could shorten it’s life. The other thing Farron mentioned was you want to make sure you can achieve the full 25 HP if necessary and you can’t do that if you can’t attain max specified RPM when under load. Last, he said it is better to be slightly over max designed RPM than under.

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Finally, Relaunch and Underway


It was a long 22 month project. It was a great day to get the Far Reach back into her element.

Needless to say it was a great day to relaunch the Far Reach after nearly 22 months on the hard. It was long complex project and I am glad it is behind us. She went into the water easily. I checked the seacocks and stuffing box. No leaks. We pulled her out of the slings and secured her alongside the dock. I started the engine and let it run about ten minutes. We shifted into forward and reverse to make sure the linkages were connected correctly. I rechecked the stuffing box and had a few drips. That’s what we wanted but I had nothing to compare it too.

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Big Changes…Part IV: Installing the Engine

With the engine and all of its support systems installed including, the cabinetry that comprises the engine box, we are ready to relaunch the Far Reach.

This is part IV and the conclusion of the engine installation project.

This post covers installing the inboard engine, installing the fuel system, aligning the shaft, building and installing battery boxes and the batteries and cables, installing the engine throttle control head, starting and test running the engine, stripping and reapplying barrier coat and anti fouling paint, installing the two blade folding propeller and making final preparations for relaunching the Far Reach after 20 months on the hard.

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Big Changes…Part III

Building and Installing the 12v panel and Supporting Systems.

Before I started the project I made a sketch of what I envisioned for a new 12v DC

With the engine beds installed it was time to start work on the new larger electrical panel to replace the small one I used for the last five years. I decided to reuse the 8 breaker Blue Seas 12v panel. I only used four of the breakers before: 12v accessory plugs, LED lights (which I added for the second voyage to the West Indies), AIS, and compass light. I also decided to move the panel from its previously hidden location near the inboard side of the quarter berth to under the bridge-deck, where it would be more accessible, and combine it with the Beta Marine engine instrument cluster, battery monitor, and battery switch. The new panel will be hidden by sliding doors.

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Big Changes…Part II

The aluminum diesel fuel tank is 19.7 gallons. It contains a full vertical baffle in the center and a clean out port on each side of the baffle.

Installing an engine requires a number of supporting projects. In Part I, I described how I modified the rudder, installed a shaft log, and built and installed engine beds. In Part II, I will describe how I designed and installed the fuel tank; designed, fabricated, and installed brackets to secure the Luke 70 pound storm anchor; designed, fabricated, and installed a removable engine drip pan; and installed the engine intake flush through-hull and seacock, as well as a few other ongoing projects.

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