The wind in the SW North Atlantic north of the Caribbean remains elusive. I discussed it with Chris Parker of Marine Weather Center last week. Together we came up with three options:
After a wonderful week in Culebra it was time to head back to St Thomas. Unfortunately, St Thomas is about 20nm dead upwind against the powerful Caribbean trades. We prepared the afternoon before by stowing gear and stripping the sun awnings and sail covers. We hauled Sweet Pea up and inverted her on the cabin top and snugged her down securely in her teak chocks.
I departed Beaufort, NC on the heels of a low pressure system and after 12 days at sea made landfall across the north bank of the British Virgin Islands. I cleared in through customs at Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke where I anchored in clear blue water on a sandy bottom.
As mentioned in an earlier post, I was invited by my friend Kaj Jakobsen, to help him step the mast and splice the standing rigging on his beautiful Lyle Hess designed 34’ Falmouth Cutter. I flew to Vancouver Island in the middle of July. I had never been to British Columbia and all I can say is wow! It is gorgeous. It reminded me of Montana but with a lot of water. Many islands. Clear water. Deep fiords. Lovely Douglas Fir trees everywhere. Clear sunny skies. Perfect temps.
While I would prefer to have the Far Reach engine free all the time it would require access to a mooring that we could sail on and off. There are very few moorings in NC and none where we are. She is berthed in a small marina with 360° of protection. So, we often carry a Honda 9.9hp four stroke outboard on a custom-made removable swing arm bracket attached to the port quarter. The outboard allows us to more conveniently move her in and out of her slip, make the tight turn onto the fairway, then exit the narrow 1/4 mile long channel out to the Neuse River.
For the last couple weeks we have been working on several projects as we continue to either further refine the Far Reach’s few systems or conduct routine maintenance. One project was the installation of a camcleat for the jib downhaul System, which is a separate article.
The first varnish project was to repair some damaged varnish on the teak stays’l winch bases. The bases are about 4” tall and are varnished. On top of the base is a 2” thick bare teak pad that serves to raise the winch up enough so the drum is above the top of the coaming. Though we varnish the coamings and pads every four months, there was a break in the varnish on the top edge of each pad. Horizontal surfaces always receive more abuse than vertical surfaces so this damage was not a big surprise.
20 April 2016, The Far Reach, Anchored, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
At 1400 on 19 April I slipped the mooring at Elephant Bay, St Thomas and sailed SE down the East Gregory Channel headed for open water. My destination was St Martin(French side) / St Maarten (Dutch side), about 105 miles due east as the crow flies. This is often considered a difficult sail as the winds and ocean swell can be big and the wind is almost always on the nose. It seems most sailors motor this passage. The Far Reach does not have such a capability so sail we must, regardless the conditions.
Gayle, Cailin, and Eric flew back to NC on 8 April to complete homeschool testing and participate in a couple of local homeschooled acivities planned moths ago. Nonetheless, it was very hard and emotional to see them off.
I am making preparations for some singlehanded sailing down island. The exact destination is undetermined. I’ll have to make a decision by 15 May either to turn NE and sail back to NC or sail to the SE for Grenada. Our reunion plans will be built around the chosen destination.
5 Apr 2015, The Far Reach, Anchored Elepahnt Bay, St Thomas, USVI — We departed the North Sound on 15 March and sailed down to the baths were once again we picked up a mooring for a few hours and enjoys swimming off the boat in the clear blue tinted water. Afterwards we sailed north about a mile and anchored over night off Spanish Town. Next day, we weighted anchor about 0830 and had a fine sail running east downwind in the Drake Channel then reaching north through the Thatch Cut to Jost van Dyke.