Enjoying the Journey • As we go to press in late June, we can look back at a great month for offshore sailing. June is usually the best month of the year for making passages along the East Coast, so that’s when we planned to sail our Jeanneau 45.2 Lime’n home to Newport from her winter digs in Nassau, Bahamas. It’s a 1,500-mile passage and we intended to make it without stopping. Aboard were my boat partner Tony Knowles, my old friend John Willett and myself…three guys over 60, each with a lot of miles under our keels.
The trip north was really two passages—the fast Gulf Stream run from the Florida Straits to Cape Hatteras and the slower final leg northward to Newport. The first half was hot with regular squalls and a fine following breeze. Hatteras, that famous graveyard, was a millpond. The run northward presented our first headwinds and the option to spend a night in Cape May, NJ to let a cold front blow through. Then we had a quick run homeward with the wind behind us.
Along the way we saw every type of spring weather, from tropical squalls to mid-Atlantic thunder boomers to crisp northerlies, with mostly fair breezes in between. We saw whales, dolphin and a few seabirds and caught a delicious Spanish mackerel. It took us seven sailing days to get home. Thanks, Lime’n, for such a fine passage.
We carried a SPOT tracking device with us that allowed friends, family and our wives, who couldn’t make the trip (they had to stay home to work, of course) to follow our progress. And we carried a SatPhone (rented from OCENS) so we could call in now and then and also speak to our weather guru Chris Parker about routing. We didn’t think too much about the SPOT. We just left it in the cockpit, where it updated our position to the SPOT website every few minutes.
So we were in for a bit of a surprise when we called home from Cape May only to be greeted with the joking question from Rosie, “What have you boys been up to? The SPOT had you wandering all over Cape May!” Apparently, Tony had it in his pocket on our trek to West Marine.
And then the night before we got to Newport, Tony’s cell phone suddenly rang…not something that happens often at sea. It was his son Jeff calling from San Francisco, asking us why we just jibed. Tony replied, “To sail around a squall, of course.” They had their eyes on us the whole way, and when we got home the friends and family who followed us reported that they enjoyed their vicarious voyage north and were never seasick once.
Which I appreciated all the more the following week when our two sons Si and Tim set off to race aboard the Class 40 Toothface in the classic Newport-Bermuda Race. I had the race tracker open in a box on my laptop’s screen for the three days it took them to complete the race so I could follow their every jibe and tack. The race was a fast, wet and exhausting sprint. The boys arrived safely, and I haven’t enjoyed a race so much in years—dry and warm in my own home all the way.
As Jack Aubrey would say, “Fascinating modern world we live in.”