Leg three, Beaufort NC to Ft Pierce FL for Pandora under sail

Tiko It’s Sunday late morning and we are romping along nicely under sail with a brisk NW wind on our starboard quarter.   Pandora performs particularly well under these conditions and she has already proven herself by running past a somewhat larger sailboat on the same track, leaving it on the horizon behind us after just a few hours.   It is so satisfying to be faster than most other boats on a long ocean passage where the difference in speed of only a few knots can make a trip days shorter on a long run.   On a run of say, 1,000 miles, the difference in that the run will time if we can make 7.5kts, verses 5.5kts, is 5 ― days verses 7 ―, days.  That’s a big difference.    Me, I’ll take the 5 ― day passage.

buy ivermectin europe With about 20kts of wind on our stern, we are under full sail and moving along at between eight and nine knots through the water, a very respectable speed, for sure.   I am hopeful that we can keep our average speed in the mid 7s or low 8s for this run.  Fingers crossed.

Last night, the wind shifted from the south after the front that left us with several days of rain passed by.   Our plan was to leave Beaufort after the wind shifted to the north, a favorable direction for sailing south and one where it’s forecasted to stayfor the next few days.  If things continue as expected, we should be able to continue to make good time all the way to Florida.   I expect that we will have to motor for the last day on our way down the FL coast as the wind is expected to veer toward the east/south east, and drop to about 5kts by the time we get there.

Yesterday afternoon, after the rain finally stopped, we moved Pandora from a mooring to a dock in town so we could take on water and fuel.  Brenda left that morning to drive home so it’s me and my two crew members, Bob and John, who are with me taking Pandora south.
Bob is skipper of The Abby, a much larger sailboat that I helped deliver from Nassau to Norwalk CT two years ago, my first trip north under sail.  That was good experience for me and to have him aboard for our run south is great.  John, who lives near us in CT is a very experienced sailor too and has done this run many times.

Yesterday, after moving onto the dock, we spent several hours getting everything in shape for the offshore run.  This included deflating the dink and lashing it onto the deck between the mast and dodger along with ensuring that all gear was properly stowed and secured for the run.  It’s not a good idea to have the dink in the davits when we are offshore as if things get nasty the dink can work itself loose and cause all sorts of mischief.  Besides, in the event that we run into trouble, the easiest way to launch the life raft is through the transom door and that can’t be opened easily when the dink is in the davits off the stern of Pandora.

In keeping with the ongoing saga of technical issues that we have faced on this trip, I have been concerned with a turnbuckle on the aft wire stay (one of the wires that hold up the mast) that had become corroded.  Given the fact that the standing rigging is only a few years old, to see the corrosion was particular cause for concern.  After speaking with some folks that I know on another boat visiting Beaufort, I decided that something had to be done to ensure that we would not find ourself in rough conditions and loose the rig from a gear failure.

With this in mind, I contacted a local rigger who came out to the boat yesterday to review things.   As expected, he agreed that there was a real risk in leaving port with the backstay in it’s current condition.  After much discussion, we decided to set up a supplemental backup stay of high tech rope (Spectra), a soft grey rope/line that is actually stronger than steel and easy to put in place.  We rigged up a double strand of ž” line running from the starboard stern turnbuckle, up through the roller on the main stay and  back to the turnbuckle on the port quarter, in essence, setting up a “sister” stay to double the current suspect stay.  In the event that the suspect stay breaks, the Spectra “sister” stay will hold up the rig.  It’s really tough to imagine that a piece of line that is so soft to the touch is actually as strong, or stronger, than steel.   I’d like to think that the stay in question won’t break, but I am not inclined to take any chances.   Besides, I am pretty confident that loosing the mast in heavy winds and seas would not be fun, make that “double not fun”.  Happily, I haven’t had first hand experince on that score.  Let’s hope I can keep up my lucky streak.

The source of my concern with the back stay was a rusty spot called “crevice corrosion” where the wire was attached to the turnbuckle, a problem that can easily lead to the loss of the rig, or worse.   When a boat is being run offshore, you can’t be too careful  so anything suspect needs to be addressed immediately.   I am certainly glad that I was able to find a rigger that would come to the boat on short notice.

All seems to be in good order now so let’s hope that nothing breaks.  Given the fact that we are going to be moving in conditions that Chris Parker, the weather router, calls “salty” for this trip, we want to be sure that everything is in perfect working order.
Along with dealing with the suspect back stay, we also rigged the third reef in the main.   This is a very deep reef that cuts the amount of sail area dramatically in the main.  If we should find ourselves in winds in the 35 knot range, something that could happen on this trip, I had a third reef sewn into the sail when it was constructed but have never used it.  So, yesterday we rigged lines and shackles in place so that we can easily pull the sail down to the third reef if needed.   The third reef cuts down the rig by more than 2/3s.  In this condition the main sail is quite small and that, combined with my storm jib would put Pandora in good shape to handle really “salty” conditions.   Storm sails, like a life raft, are the sorts of gear you want to have on board and hope you will never use.

So far, so good and our current course will take us to our first turning point off of Frying Pan Shoals, an aptly named point with very shallow waters off of the coast about 90 NM (nautical miles) from the entrance of Beaufort.  At that point we will head toward another waypoint just west of the western wall of the Gulf Stream which will keep us inshore of the strong northerly running current of The Stream.    The Gulf Stream is a great “conveyor belt” of water that makes for a fast run north but you want to stay out of it when going south.

If you are inclined to plot our plans on a chart, the first coordinates we will point toward after rounding Frying Pan are 32.00.00N Latitude and 79.20.00W Longitude, approximately.   After that we will have another imaginary point to go to, 31.20.00N, 80.00.00W and then 30.00.00N, 80.30.00W that should allow us to continue south without messing with the adverse currents of The Stream.   Any further east of these waypoints, and we would find ourselves fighting a nasty current that runs several knots against us.  And, with north winds opposing these currents, big and sharp waves.   Those conditions would be totally “unfun”.

It will be interesting to see if Chris’s coordinates are right.  Only time will tell.

Sorry, no pictures in this post as I sent this to my son Christoper via e-mail on the SSB long range radio.    This technology is very slow and not suited to big files.   Perhaps in Monday’s post I will include one small photo.

So far, so good, as Pandora romps along on the third leg of our trip south to Florida in preparation for Brenda’s and my run to The Bahamas in late January.

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