Migration: Provincetown to Charleston

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
  • All the things for a Griswald-style adventure
  • Sailing Down Buzzards Bay
  • Sunrise north of Montauk, Long Island Sound
  • Moored in Port Washington, NY
  • Transiting the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn
  • Sailing under the Verrazzano Bridge
  • Sunrise as We Round Cape Hatteras
  • Taking on waves after rounding Cape Hatteras
  • Anchored in Charleston Harbor awaiting our slip

Goal: Get Moment to Deltaville, Virginia by 10/2 for maintenance and to Charleston by 11/1 to nestle into our winter slip (or sleep? something much needed after such a busy sailing season in Provincetown!). Out of the gate, we were delayed a week by Tropical Storm Jose in Provincetown. After all of our storm prep (read about it here), a week of hunkering, and then putting the boat back together, the day finally came.

It would be a solo passage that went from a single daytime hop to Newport to much more. Initially, with time on our side, there were going to be stops in Newport, Block Island, and wherever else seemed to make sense along the way. However, with a lost week and the pending storm “Maria” coming up the coast, we decided to high-tail it to what turned into a 36hour passage from Provincetown to Port Washington NY. There was intent to stop to catch some sleep in first Newport, then Point Judith, with a final decision on Block Island.

As we approached Block Island at around 11PM, DENSE “pea-soup” fog rolled in like never before. At first, it seemed to make sense to take it slow and let the GPS and marker lights guide Moment into the harbor so the captain could get a few winks after quite a long day. Unfortunately the fog got even worse and the navigational markers in the tiny channel appeared mere feet in front of the boat, when normally they can be seen from miles away. We passed two markers and with the knowledge that the inner markers and moored boats would not be lit and therefore very likely to hit, an about-face into the night was actually a safer and more comfortable decision, despite the upcoming sleep deprivation.

It was going to be a long night, i.e. many cups of tea. While watching the radar, AIS, and GPS, and anticipated the fog to deplete, we noticed the engine temperature going up. Oh good. With no wind and dense fog, cutting engines in the middle of the night in Block Island sound is not the ideal thing to do, but given the likely hood that our strainer was clogged with sea-weed, it was the right thing to do. At least while down below, if there was a boat engine near by, it could be heard while working on the strainer. After getting grimy in the bilge and knocking out all the weeds, thankfully the engine started right back up and remained a more agreeable temperature.

Fortunately the remaining day to get to Port Washington was a motor-sail during the warm sunny, windless day. The only problems to speak of were actually quite small, but mighty: the black flies of Long Island sound that could bite THROUGH clothes were out in full force the entire length of the island. After a sleepless night and getting harassed by the flies, there was a realization that the island to port was aptly named.

The layover in Port Washington allowed us to reset, visit some city friends and take on Zack, a crew member to assist in a double-handed sail down to Deltaville, VA for our haul-out.

As the Maria aftermath and large ocean swells began to subside, we were able to catch the East River tide quite nicely early morning. Running the East River has become routine as we used to sail in NYC regularly and have made the passage several times with Moment. Once we hit the Battery, we were able to raise the mainsail, bear off the strong northerly wind and cut engines.

As we approached Sandy Hook, NJ we could sail an angle that allowed us to let the genoa out and really improve our speed. As soon as we cleared the inbound tides of New York Harbor we were flying at 9+ knots–what a rush as we sailed into sunset and overnight!

Sadly, by middle of the next day, the winds began to wane and our last ditch effort to fly the chute for a few hours helped us, but we ended the day motoring into and up the Chesapeake Bay. Our total trip took about 38hours averaging around 7kts.

 

Fast forward 3 weeks later to our relaunch with all of our transmission and other punch list items complete (read all about it here), crew members Graham, Wendy, and Captain Chris sailed off for Charleston mid morning on October 25th hoping to catch some strong northerlies to push us down. Well, we got them. For about 24 hours, including our time rounding Cape Hatteras we were jamming. We surfed down waves at 11+ knots as the sun was rising to port. During one such wave there was a SNAP! Not the sound you want to hear. After inspecting the boom, we realized that the boom vang solid stainless steal bracket broke and peeled back a portion of the boom track like a can opener. The amount of force on that piece is unfathomable. Then, to make sure it didn’t get any worse or if it broke free, a line was fastened around it so it wouldn’t suddenly be flailing about the midships. Ok, that would be expensive, but it was under control.

As we rounded Hatteras, we had to sail closer and closer to the wind with rather large waves crashing over the bow. Fortunately the new cockpit enclosure spared us from what normally would have been an extremely wet ride. In this process the wind began to build, and we decided it would be smart to take some of the mainsail in. Other than all the bouncing, this is a routine task–and then RIP! Remember the ‘safety’ line we tied around the boom vang? That inhibited the mainsail from rolling up like it needed to and caused it to tear. What else!?

Well … the genoa got jammed! We’ve never seen it do this in this fashion. The entire track road up, separating the rolling mechanism, snarling the furling line leaving the sail about 1/3 out and slowing growing as the winds built and it wound tighter and tighter on itself. At this point, we just had to hope the wind wouldn’t build stronger or shift anymore west, or the sail would be flapping to its death until the winds subsided.

Our original intent was to take a break in Wrightsville beach – a welcomed stop at this point – but as it all unfolded, there was a strong pending storm heading our way so rather than a leisurely  trip, we had to gun it to beat the weather.

Fortunately, by day 3, the winds finally did calm, we were under motor, and able to temporarily put the genoa back in to be repaired in port. The remainder of our trip was uneventful and we arrived to anchor at 3AM in Charleston Harbor.

By November 1st, we moved to our winter slip and are now all tucked in to hopefully slow the pace down, take care of what we broke, work on some winter projects and be ready for an exciting 2018 summer of sailing in Provincetown Harbor!

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