Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Neptune's Choice- Our Passage from Norfolk, Va to the BVI

You know sometimes you visit a restaurant and there's a "Chef's Choice" which is an option that could vary from Pasta Primavera to Filet Mignon....well, this passage was Neptune's Choice and was pretty much a grab bag of every possible condition at sea.

Though a large percentage was a broad reach (wind from behind the boat) and was very nice, we did have a couple days with pretty strong winds and big seas as we transitioned through a TROF (very strong Lo that had moved in from the north).  The wave direction was interesting to navigate because the seas were not only from the north but also accompanied by an eastern swell so Terrapin would surf down a 15 - 20 foot wave at 9 knots and then a swell would come in from the east and bury our starboard rail a couple of inches into the water.  From the port light at the nav station, I think I could see the fishes underwater (yes, I'm exaggerating).

We also had a day or two of light winds, some amazing sailing, some motoring and the last day left us with a close reach at only 30 degrees off the nose.  However, as far as the North Atlantic in November goes, this passage was pretty great and if you can ever get away with doing those 1300 miles and not beating into the wind every day, I would say you are pretty darn lucky.

Every passage is different than the ones before, but this one had a few game changers that gave us an advantage thanks to Baxter's hard work before we left the boat yard.  The SSB (single-sideband radio) that he installed while we were in the boat yard made weather forecasts easier to receive twice per day and with the changing conditions, the access to that information made all the difference.  Also, we had more canvas in the cockpit so when it did rain or the waves hit us on the beam, we were more protected and could stay comfortable during our watches.  The IridiumGo! worked flawlessly.  It was so simple to send position updates, check email, make phone calls or send texts to the outside world.  Finally, the watch schedule I created also added some consistency to our 9-day passage where we could count on sleep at certain intervals and if you were in the cockpit alone - it was only for an hour before the next person came up to help talk through things, like a cargo ship within 1 1/2 miles or the nasty cloud ahead that could be a squall in the middle of the night (should I reef down?) or duuuudde, look at that awesome star twinkling next to the shooting star I just saw.

It was great to have Dan and Scott on Terrapin during the passage.  There were times that it was definitely an advantage to have eight hands around the boat (unfortunately paws without thumbs don't help much).  There were days when we had fun, there were days that we were walking from grab rail to grab rail down below and there were days of perfect sailing that we could do for the rest of our lives.

We arrived in the BVI around 9pm on Thursday - making the passage about 9 1/2 days.  We sailed right into North Sound and picked up a mooring ball at Bitter End.  We will stay in the BVI for about 30 days.  From there, our plan is to work our way south through the Windwards and Leewards but most cruising plans are written in sand...so we'll see where the wind blows us.

The USCG did a demonstration of an at-sea rescue while we were in Hampton.  Just in case.
So tired and exhausted, Baxter fell asleep down below with his harness on.  Kala took an opportunity to snuggle.
It's so nice to have time to sleep on a passage.
Fouled prop in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
Fouled prop - no problem mon.
Never a better sunset than on an ocean passage. 
Flying the new Spinnaker...Thank you Ullman Sails Virginia!
A celebratory toast to a great day!
Scott and Dan reeling in a Mahi...he escaped at the last minute
This is a great start to a fantastic winter
Our nightly weather briefing from Chris Parker (mxwc.com).  I am listening to the SSB radio and plotting the coordinates of the Trof and our waypoints for the next three days.
Our Monitor Windvane autopilot (aka Bertha) did 90% of the steering on the trip, even with 15 foot seas...since it is mechanical, it doesn't require a single watt of power and keeps us steady on course.
After picking up the mooring ball in the BVI, we cracked open a tasty bottle of champagne to celebrate.
Our daily positions...thank you IridiumGo!


6 comments:

  1. Love looking at your pictures and glad you arrived safely!!! Wish I could join you!!! xoxo
    ~Marci

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    1. Thanks Marci! If you ever decide to join us - just let us know!

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  2. Awesome photos. Loved the details. Hope u have tons of fun.

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  3. What a trip! Your pics are awesome! You really know what you're doing. I can't even imagine a 9.5 day sail, wow! Enjoy the beautiful Caribbean!!! Counting the days :)

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    1. Thanks Mary. We are excited to see you guys!

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