July 20, 2011

Heading South

Wow, too much to catch up on here. Blogging has definitely fallen by the wayside, as filming and editing takes front and center. A dedicated writing team would be swell, but we’re not there yet. I’ll have to really cut to the chase here and relay just the best of the best, and the worst of the worst. Here’s the basic outline…

Against Us.
Getting Warmer.
A New Camera Operator.
12′ Seas & 40+ knots.
Sunshine – Wow!
Pain au Chocolat.

Magnificent Walls Of Rock Appear As Fog Clears.
A Freshwater Bath.
Fresh Trout.
Bake Apples.
Reesh eats all the Raman.
Lightening Bolts Everywhere.
Maine – the promised land.

So that’s how it went during the last month or two (wow, has it been that long?). Pretty exciting stuff, eh?!

SLeaving the northern tip of Newfoundland, was exciting. It was our first time pointing the boat in a southerly direction all summer. We knew it would get warmer eventually, and that thought kept us cheerful. Chris had left us in St. Anthony, so we were on our own to film ourselves.

Newfoundland is all fishing all the time. Well OK, not all the time anymore, but it used to be.  July is shrimp season. Although so many of the fish processing plants are shut down, the bigger towns still have active processing plants. Twillingate has an active plant and we bought ourselves some fresh — “cooked & frozen just yesterday”  — shrimp. I was hoping for fresh off the boat, whole, uncooked shrimp, but all they have is cooked  and frozen shrimp at these plants. They ship the shrimp all over the world. They are very small pop-corn sized shrimp that come frozen in brine. Pleasantly surprised, they were quite tasty.

I’ve always said that sailing and schedules don’t play well together. Just how true that is, became evident yet again, when trying to meet our new camera operator – Reesh in St. Johns. Contrary winds for days. Seas were not huge, but like my favorite Quebecois sailor said, they were “Right On The Nose”. The Hobby Horse, remember that from your childhood? Ever try riding it for 72 hours straight, then throw in a little  pasta cooking, some dish doing, a little teeth brushing, some naviguessing, some engine failures, and some rain. Despite our bucking bronco ride, and sailing upwind at 2 knots sometimes we managed to pull into St. Johns harbor at the EXACT time Reesh was walking down to the dock. It was UNCANNY. It was 0030, and the darkness we were used to was gone. The lights of St. Johns harbor blinded us. The smell of industry and civilization filled our noses. This was not the Newfoundland we’d come to know during the past few weeks, but it sure was a nice change.

I’ve always said that sailing and schedules don’t play well together. Just how true that is, became evident yet again.

With a forecast for 25 knots on our tail… we were sold. After 3 days of contrary winds, anything abaft the beam seemed like a gift from the gods. We left St. Johns in a hurry to catch these favorable winds, but not so soon as to miss a wonderful dinner and shower offered by fellow Bristol Channel Cutter owner Stewart. Thanks Stewart!

25 knots built to 30, and 30 built to 40. As the wind built, our sail plan diminished. Our single reefed main and jib, ended up being just a stays’l in the end, and the 4′ seas tripled. 12′ seas and 45knots was about the maximum we saw. It was a good ride indeed — 8.5 knots under stays’l alone. Elizabeth handles it all so well. All you have to do is give her the sail plan she asks for, and she’ll take care of the rest.

Now, Elizabeth may handle it easily, but the crew… well, not so much. After a few hours of 12′ seas, blinding horizontal rain in darkness, not knowing when the next sea was going to give us a kick in the ass, we decided to make way for a harbor — a harbor “anywhere damnit!” I think was the description used. We were happy enough to have rounded Cape Race in 12 hours, so a rest from the weather sounded like a great idea. There was talk of a hot meal upon anchoring. What incentive! It was 0100, July 13th (I think). I was dreaming of fresh veggie salads from the garden, BBQ in the back yard, ice tea with mint, fresh fruit desserts… but not this year! June =  Oatmeal. July =  Pasta. Winter food. We are really beginning to show our winter plumage… a few extra inches of insulation.

It rained and blew hard for 48 hrs straight. Two back to back systems combined for an intense few days out there. We were tucked in safe in a little harbor called Trepassey. We could hear the waves bashing the shoreline just over the bluff. Relentless. The fog horn blew every minute all day, all night. Visibility was nil.

Waking the following morning the wind had settled to a peaceful 10kts. But, the lingering swell pounded the shoreline just the same. Everyones favorite: large swell, light winds. Yuck. We made our way out the narrow passage where the seas were large and confused. They bounce off the opposing shorelines, reverberating, and echoing each other in a call and response like a choral group of tone deaf singers. Gunwale to gunwale we rolled, decks awash, stomachs awash. Dory was not amused. But, the sun was showing promise of coming out, and that was inspiring.

So we set our course for France, just South of West, magnetic…

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sep 6 2011

    You know, a lot of folks write about when sailing for long distances and in remote areas, things don’t always go according to plan. The photo in this post seems to say it all though. You don’t have to write a word.

  2. flymike
    Sep 11 2011

    West to get to France? Going the long way?


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