Current Time: 2PM EST
Current Position: North 41 degrees 06 minutes, West 71 degrees, 11 minutes
Actually, now that I’m finally sending this, we are much closer. We are 16 miles from Beavertail.
Finally got a moment to bring you up to date. We are motoring. There is no wind. It was supposed to be blowing 10, but that wind died early this morning, after a nice 15-knot wind after the fog lifted. That was encouraging. We raised the full mainsail and full jib, and turned down the engine. But, as has been so typical in the last few days of our voyage, as soon as we made all the changes necessary to optimize current conditions, the conditions change. And, just as I started to type this, the glassy water surface started to show tiny sharp ripples. Definitely not enough to get to Beavertail faster than the engine, which is moving us along at 5.75 knots. We turned off the starboard engine, as the tank was getting low and we want to preserve fuel for docking and/or mooring the boat. But we have two, 5-gallon jugs on board if we need to add more to the tanks. Enough to get home, and more, which is nice – considering we started with full tanks and didn’t add to them for the entire 8,000 miles.
There isn’t enough wind to go over 1 or 2 knots, so we have the main set at the middle of the boat – just to make it easy on the engine – and the jib rolled up. It isn’t even code zero weather – that big jib wouldn’t stay full in this light wind. If the forward progress of the boat is stronger than the wind pushing the boat – which does happen with Horizon – the code zero sail collapses and sweeps across the deck, turning into a brake instead of a gas pedal. Besides, it seems a little silly to put up that big sail – which can take a half an hour – when we are so close.
We must keep up our speed, because our goal is to get to Beavertail by 5PM. By then we will have called the Customs people, and will have negotiated where we will meet them – either at ewport, or at Dutch Harbor, which is a nice anchorage on the west side of Jamestown and not far from our house. Dutch Harbor has a boatyard, and the boatyard can ferry people out to boats, so the customs officer could come out to Horizon that way. This would allow us to anchor out overnight at Dutch Harbor, something we have done many times in our other boat, or even spend the night on our mooring, right outside our house. Another night on the boat – given that we’ve been doing this since April 20 – is not going to be a burden. We have a lot of stuff to ferry in to the beach, and we want to do that in the daytime after a full night on the anchor. Golly. Sleeping in the same berth at the same time, and it’s not even hot here. That would be nice. [NOTE: CHANGE IN PLANS – SEE BELOW – THERE MAY BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A LITTLE PARTY]
Today is my brother Chris’ birthday, and he has plenty of bandwidth. Feel free if you want to join me in wishing him a very Happy Birthday, and to help me thank him for the incredible job he did on the posts and the blog (not to mention his resourcefulness when my sat phone service was shut down). Thank you, Chris. What you did was awesome, all around. We couldn’t have done this without your sterling assistance.
We were happy to hear from Larry and Ann Marie, the brother-in-law and sister of Greg – of Greg and Shelly, of the boat Semper Fi. Still with me? Anyway, Greg and Shelly have been trying to get out of Cape Town for months, and they apparently finally did. Their crew consisted of an experienced couple and a delivery captain. They are now at St Helena, spending a few days snorkling. Great news and good sailing to our friends.
The fog last night was thick all night, and didn’t lift until well after the sun had come up. I spent my entire watch glued to the radar screen, except for dashing to the galley for a snack, or to the head. I dodged two big ships and two smaller vessels. The two larger ships were quite close to each other and I had to figure out how to ease my way between them. It was my first time using radar. In the morning, after the fog had lifted, there was a ship on the horizon. After getting his bearing on the compass (remember, that’s always the first thing you have to do), I turned the radar back on and compared what I saw on the display with what I was seeing with my eyeballs. One of the toughest things about radar, at least for this novice, is it takes a minute or two to figure out which way the other boat is going. It’s not like seeing his lights at night and saying, “Ah. green light. That’s his starboard side, which means he is going in the opposite direction from our direction.” Instead, you watch his position relative to yours, and the progress he makes in one direction or another. It’s tricky because the radar scans in a circle, as we’ve all seen in the movies, and each time you have to decide which way he’s moved. There is a bit of a “tail” when he moves in one direction or another, but I didn’t depend on that, since the radar blobs are not what you would call “crisp, well-defined images.”
A foggy situation requires radar, but it also requires the radar reflector. This is a strange-looking item that is going to be difficult to describe. It consists of two flat and thin metal pieces, each a full circle, about ten inches in diameter. They are interlocked, so you end up with the two circles at right angles to each other. There are two of these, one on top of the other. They’re a bit awkward to handle, and the edges of the metal rounds can cut through a thin line, so you have to be careful how you hang them up. You hoist them up alongside the mast, just under the spreader, with a thinnish line. The spreader is the part of the rig (mast, boom, sails, etc.) that sticks out to either side of the mast, a ways up the mast. Wires leading to it form a diamond shape, and help to strengthen and balance the mast. The radar reflector does just what you think it would do: it reflects radar, so boats with radar can “see” us in the fog.
Once again, we are alone on the sea. That has been the theme of this trip. There were a few boats out here this afternoon, but they are gone now, and it’s just us and the water and the horizon. As I’m typing this, I must keep a sharp lookout for lobster buoys and fishing buoys, so I’m sitting high on the settee and glancing up every few seconds.
We appear to be right at the edge of a front. Ahead of me is blue water and blue sky, and just off the boat’s port side the water is a completely different color – almost white. It’s reflecting the flattish mackerel clouds above it, which stretch out for miles to the southwestern horizon. It’s so pale, when I looked out the side window, I thought maybe something had glazed the surface of the glass. That’s what is disturbing the wind, I imagine.
We are just opposite Block Island now. I can see it off in the distance, to the west of us. The buoy marking Block Island is at this latitude, but it’s farther to the west than we are, so I didn’t see that as we went past.
[CHANGE IN PLANS – NEWPORT – SATURDAY NIGHT – POSSIBLY]:
Philip is up, feeling much better – he was still needing sleep – and has a better idea about our landfall. He thinks we may get to the Newport fuel dock by this evening – say, 8:30, and meet the customs guy there (hopefully). We will be calling him when we are about 5 or 6 nautical miles from Beavertail. If we can get him to come to the fuel dock this evening, we can probably stay there overnight, since the fuel dock closes at 6 or so. If anyone wants to see us, this would be the time … [8:30ish – STILL SUBJECT TO CHANGE] and it would also give us the opportunity to unload all the stuff we need to unload, from the boat to the dock – much easier – than ferrying it using dinghys on the beach. I can’t wait to toss the trash bags filled with “plastic trash” into a dumptster. It will be almost as satisfying as the bathtub we threw into a dumpster…our first real date was a bathtub race in Alameda. Actually, our first real date was the lunch we went to to fill out the application for the bathtub race, which is where we fell in love, and then the next date was going to the dump to get a bathtub. We did win that race, in a very non-impressive bathtub called “The Leaky Faucet.” I still have the prize, two drain plugs painted gold, hanging on red ribbons. But that’s another story for another day.
Anyway, at the rate we’re going it looks like we’ll be docking about 8:30 or so. I will send out another email once we have talked to the customs guy, and if anyone wants to join us and see the vessel and the people, we’d love it. Oh, speaking of people, turns out these levis can be pulled while still buttoned. I’d call that serious weight loss. 🙂
Again, I will send out another email once we have talked to the customs guy. Then it will take us an hour or two to get to the dock. I’ll know more as we get closer.
Wow. Home. We have the VHF on, and it’s very, very strange, but heartwarming, to hear that familiar and distinctive Rhode Island accent on the radio. We can see Rhode Island now. We can see a sailboat race off Newport. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Toto, there’s no place like home.
Yes, I will send a couple more updates, if for no other reason than to document Philip’s first motorcycle ride to get a pizza. 🙂
Philip and Kristin