Welcome Boatblog® fans,
And in this instalment we bring you the Salty Dawg Diaries,
It’s been quite a tough crossing, what with dodging hurricanes, becalmings and strong headwinds, but we got here about one in the morning last night.
So we are now officially “Salty Dawgs!”
THE SALTY DAWG DIARIES
We’re all ready to go, but have just heard that our departure is to be postponed, possibly until Thursday and maybe even next week. The weather forecast is not looking great; indeed it’s pelting down with rain right now, so we’ll just sit it out until weather guru Chris Parker gives us the green light.
ALL DRESSED UP, AND NO PLACE TO GO – sitting it out in Hampton VA waiting for the storms to pass
Which comes sooner than we expected. Chris Parker says tomorrow is a ‘Go.’ We go to bed early ready for a departure at first light.
And it’s a great start to the rally. A nice beam reach means the going is fast and comfortable. It’s raining, but that’s ok. The wind is good and the sea not too high, and it won’t be long till we reach the Gulf Stream.
Which is when everything starts to change.
As the sun goes down, the wind veers to the south, which is not so good as it puts us on a beat. (Note to our landlubbers friends:- ‘Beating to windward’ is when the wind is coming from where you want to go, and you get involved in tacking and all that palaver. The boat is tipped over so it can be quite uncomfortable. It’s fun and exciting for a short while, but hard work. We don’t know why it’s called a beat, but it’s probably because the crew and boat both take a beating. If it’s not that, it should be.)
We’ve been crossing the Gulf Stream all night and it has been choppy and uncomfortable, beating into strong wind, big seas, and torrential rain. It’s very dark with no moon at all, and we are cold, wet, and miserable.
Other boats have been struggling too. One called – somewhat ironically – Trouble, called the US coastguard out because it was taking on water. This of course led to lots of ridiculous mayday messages between the nearby boats and the rescue helicopter. “We’re looking for Trouble,” and that sort of thing. Another boat was forced to turn back because its mainsail ripped.
No let up from the weather. Still cold and we’re still beating, but at least it has stopped raining.
We had a bit of a disaster. A particularly strong gust broke the lazyjacks on one side making it difficult to lower the sail. Ju, Mr Incredible, has managed to lash it down for now, but we may need to live with the third reef in for the rest of the trip. Not a problem at the moment with the winds as strong as they are, but it may slow us down later.
Some time ago, our Scottish friends, Stuart and Anne (Yes, the very Stuart who led us to victory in the Heineken Regatta. As of the time of writing, Domini remains undefeated in high level International competition.) taught us a new word. The adverb, “scunnered.” As in ‘To be scunnered.’ It means something like ‘fed up,’ or ‘hacked off,’ but these English expressions don’t really do it justice. To appreciate the full power of this word, it is no good saying it with a Home Counties accent. You need to imagine it as being said by a Scot.
Picture if you will, a cold winter’s night in the middle of Glasgow. An inviting glow of a light beckons you to a local tavern, where you enjoy a few quiet pints round the fire. Perhaps a wee dram or two to round off a perfect evening, You espy a local and decide to engage him in conversation, and so you venture to enquire after your new Glaswegian friend’s health. He replies, “I’m completely scunner’d ya wee gob**ite. Now **** off.”
Perhaps now dear reader, you can appreciate the true majesty of this fine Scottish word. We encourage you to use it whenever possible so it may achieve the universality it deserves.
And it’s how we feel right now. We’ve been beating for what seems like forever. it’s cold. It’s raining. The seas are tossing us all over the place. Every time we go up on the foredeck to do something we get completely drenched. We’re wearing so many clothes, we look like the Michelin Man and can’t put our arms down by our sides, let alone move about and do anything.
We’re – there’s no other way to put it – scunner’d!
The wind has died down a bit, and so have the seas, so although it’s slower, it’s more pleasant. We’re fighting a pretty impressive current though, so must still be in the Gulf Stream.
Lyn has come up with an ingenious solution to the problem of the broken lazyjacks. We manage to jury rig something using the spinnaker halyard and so we are once again able to use full sail.
LAZYJACKS’ REPAIR – Hooray for Lyn!
But the really good news is that we have made quite a bit of distance south, and it is now too warm for trousers, let alone full oilskins. We get out our shorts for the first time in months, and decide to wear our official OCC* polo shirts.
*OCC = Old Codgers’ Club
If all else fails, Lyn can always get a job on a superyacht.
Woo woo. Caribbean here we come!
We get news of possible tropical storm, so we tack east in the hope of avoiding it. We are now racing towards a safety line that Chris Parker tells us should be out of the danger area if it does indeed develop into a hurricane.
The cover has blown off the dinghy. Fortunately all those years working in the theatre weren’t completely wasted. Ju knows that there is NOTHING that can’t be repaired with gaffer tape.
More beating to get out of the danger zone. It feels like we’ve been beating since we started and it’s pretty exhausting.
The scunnerometer is high.
With us being tipped up so much, it’s hard to eat without all the food falling on the floor. Fortunately we have our hi tech non-slip marine eating platforms on board.
THE LATEST IN MARINE GRADE NON-SLIP TABLEWARE – also available at your local pet shop.
But we know we’re in the middle of the ocean, because in the morning the decks are strewn with flying fish.
And we’ve clocked up 10,000 miles on the ground log since we left Southampton. (That’s the number in the bottom left hand corner.)
And now it’s time for the calm after the storm.
We had to motor all day – or as us sailors say, ‘We hoisted the Iron Sail.’ But eventually the wind picked up and we had great night sail. Still beating, but the seas have died down so it’s not so rough. And at last we are actually heading in the direction of the Virgins, and not tacking all over the place in an effort to make some headway South and East.
In the picture below, the straight yellow lines are the ones we wanted to take.
The black wonky line is what we’ve actually done.
The possible tropical storm now has a name – Hurricane Kate, so it was a good job we headed east when we did. It was a bit of a close call, but fortunately we seem to have skirted round it. We still get quite a few squalls though.
NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A SQUALL
Using both his extensive knowledge of the movement of the stars and planets acquired during his celestial navigation training, and his iPhone app, Ju is pleased to inform our readers that the white dot just above the cloud is Jupiter.
And now, for no very good reason, a series of pictures by Ju, who does the watch when the sun comes up, called “Pictures of the Morning.”
RED SKY IN THE MORNING…Gulp…
The wind has died and looks like being this way for the next 36 hours at least. So we’re motoring. Now the worry is whether or not we have enough fuel.
RE-FUELING AT SEA
A completely moonless night, so the stars shone even more brightly than normal and right down to the horizon. Ju kept mistaking stars for boats, and was considering taking avoiding action in case he collided with Sirius. Lyn got this amazing picture of Jupiter on her watch, which was so bright it was like the moon reflecting on the sea.
The winds are still avoiding us, but should build as we get south of parallel 22N. Little to report, but there is only enough fuel to last us till midnight tonight.
Oh no – Friday 13th!
Not that sailors are superstitious.
The wind finally picked up, about 6 hours before our fuel ran out! So we won’t have to do what sailors do when they are becalmed; pointlessly re-trim the sails, drink the grog, and talk about which one of the crew they are going to eat first.
THE PENNANTS ARE FLYING AGAIN
And so we kept going to the Bitter End…
THE BITTER END – British Virgin Islands
….and now we’re here it all seems worth it. Turquoise waters, warm enough to swim in, Painkiller cocktails, and of course, the sun.
Thanks to all at the Salty Dawg Rally. Especially Tatja for tracking us, Chris for the weather and for keeping us out of the way of the hurricane, and of course Bill and Linda for organising it all.
Gotta go…we have a ton of repairs to do. As they say, cruising is just boat maintenance in nice places.
Ju & Lyn