Monday, June 6, 2011

Catch up time

Okay, where was I...
Oh yes, the first part of our delivery the trip up the Chesapeake through the C&D canal and down the Delaware. As I mentioned, this was done under motor. Very uneventful, except for the part in the canal where we hit a submerged something!!!! Not a hard hit, but nerve racking none the less. I dislike hitting objects, especially when you have no way of knowing what you hit.So we made it to Cape May in great time, so much so in fact that we had to wait to get closer to high tide before we ventured in. I always head to South Jersey Marine for supplies, as they are great to work with, good facilities and very prompt with service. So fill the diesel tank and the plethora of jerry cans, empty the holding tank and were done. It's really nice to be able to shower during our very short stop over, which they allow us to do.
We head out at 2:30 pm into a 20 knot headwind. Off course it would be straight upwind, but we knew the winds would back so short time upwind followed by a progressively deeper and deeper reach to the point that getting into Narragansett Bay was almost too downwind. I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, let me back track a little.....
Watches were set up as Denise and Nick on watch 1, Paul and Marsha on watch 2. Marsha took over the galley duties and kept us very well fed. She prepared three meals ahead of time so all we had to do was heat them up in the oven. Awesome meals fit for royalty. I don't know how to explain it, but meals are usually so much better when consumed on board a boat. We run 24 hours with 3 hour shifts at night between 6 pm and 6 am and 4 hour shifts during daylight hours of 6 am and 6 pm. When the wind decreased to a point where our speed was below 5 knots, we turned the engine on and motor sailed. Putting reefs in and out is much easier with all hands on deck, but it is also a good thing to let the off-watch sleep so it's a juggling act to keep the boat moving.
On my off watch of 6 am to 10 am, Paul turned the engine off which I so thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. This joy was short lived as I was informed as soon as I got up that his turning the engine off was not by choice. "The engine did not sound right" was how Paul put it to me! So we decided to investigate and try starting it again this time with both of us listening. That test did not last long as the noise was quite loud and with a lack of a better way of saying it, it sounded like metal parts hitting each other and not in a good way.
Okay, on to plan B. Keep sailing all the way to Newport, and if we anchor out either by Block Island or just outside NEB, we can call for some help in the morning. Of course our arrival occurred in the dead of night in some of the worse thunderstorms I have ever encountered on the water. Horizontal rain, winds topping over 35 knots, not pleasant when you know you have limited maneuverability!!!!!
Okay, on to plan C. Now we need a tow and it can't wait until morning as we have had all hands on deck for most of the night already and people are getting very tired. Accidents have a way of happening when people are tired and wasn't going to have any of that. We were extremely lucky to be able to call Boat US's towing service who put us in touch with Safe-Sea towing and rescue. What an amazing outfit. We ended up sailing in to just north of the Jamestown bridge where we dropped our main which had been reefed down to the second reef position for it seems almost the whole trip. The only time we had it up to the first reef position was at the end of the afternoon and up until the winds reached back up to well over 25 knots. Putting the second reef back in with 10 to 15 foot following seas was quite the challenge, but the team came through fabulously. Ok, so now we have the mainsail down, winds over 30 knots, and the tow boat approached and we hook up. I must tell you at this point that Cmax is a race boat first and foremost. This means we have NO deck cleats, always a challenge to figure out new and inventive ways to tie off the boat in different situations. This time we tied off to the stem plate and kept Nick close by the bow to make sure the line stayed down at deck level and didn't work it's way up the forestay to damage the turnbuckle of carbo foil. Mission accomplished, all worked well with no damage. Now the tow boat towed us up and down the river while we waited out all the storm fronts and thundershowers. I think that might have been the longest 3-4 hours of my life. So now the winds are down to a reasonable 20 knots, so we drop the tow line and the boat approaches for a side by side hook up to get us in the harbor and over to the fuel/service dock deep inside the harbor. Not sure if any of you have ever been to New England Boatworks, but I can tell you that navigating inside the harbor is not an easy task at the best of times. Now with a side-by-side hookup, we are over 25 feet wide which gives us only a few feet on each side. I forgot to mention that even with all the horsepower of the rescue boat, I am still the one maneuvering us in as his rudder is 100th the size of my big racing blade. Captain Phil got us in without even breaking a sweat, very professional a great guy to work with. He signed off the boat back to me at 4:23 am, and I then realized that it was suddenly much easier to breathe. I guess I had been a little tense for the last 10 hours.
So original departure from Jabins at 2:20 pm on May 21st, final arrival at NEB on 4:23 am on May 24th. A very quick delivery with an overall good ending, even if it was a little hairy at times! The team was awesome helping with the prep of the boat and upon our arrival took all the time needed to put her away ship shape.
A nice meal at the Red Parrot downtown Newport followed a a good night's sleep at the Holiday in Express allowed us to get rested after an eventful delivery. We managed to get everything organized for the boat to be repaired so we can be ready for Block Island race week in a couple of weeks.

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