If I were heading south…

If I was heading south this winter, I’d be in Hampton VA with the others that are participating in the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean.  And, I’d be preparing Pandora for the 1,500 mile run, with the other boats, to head out around November 3rd, or at least as soon as there is a decent weather window.

A complicating factor in all of this is a late season hurricane Oscar that, until a few days ago, was heading right toward Bermuda and the east coast.  The forecast always had him veering to the NE but seeing a hurricane headed our way, temporarily or otherwise is always unnerving, to say the least.  Watching a storm that’s heading our way, even one with plenty of time to consider what will happen, does give one pause for thought.  Here’s Oscar’s track as of Tuesday morning.  Two days ago, the track was to the WNW.  However, that’s not my problem as I am not heading south.   Actually, while I am still unhappy about that, I am beginning to see that being home for the winter will help me focus on things that somehow haven’t gotten done here since moving to CT over six years ago.

Besides, with all this extra time on my hands, I will be able to work double time to figure out what to write about in this blog.  I also hope to be able to give a few more talks about our travels, something that I really enjoy, and that seems to be coming together too.

Additionally, I have put on a two to three day event in Essex for the last 6 years, in June and had decided to cancel that out of simple fatigue for 2019 but now that I am home for the winter (Did I mention that wasn’t heading south this season?) I have decided that perhaps we do need one more year of the event.

I’ll be doing that in June along with the Seven Seas Cruising Association and will also involve the Salty Dawg Sailing Association (I sit on the board) as well as the Ocean Cruising Club.  I joined that group last winter.

The “new” idea for the event, and it’s not my original idea, is to do a sort of “open boat” weekend, where folks from other local yacht clubs could sign up to visit boats that are set up for blue water sailing and are attending the event to see, first hand, what’s involved in getting a boat ready for blue water passages.

In addition, the publisher of Blue Water Sailing Magazine has agreed to run a round table discussion that day to explore the topic with “those who do it”.

Of course, I also plan on taking another run at arranging a search and rescue (SAR) demonstration in the river by the USCG, chopper and all.   For the last two years I have gotten approval for a demo but they were called off at the last minute by weather etc.   So, wish me luck, as I apply again.  Perhaps three will be the charm.

I did get them to show up with a cutter last spring and that was really interesting. When I was in Hampton VA two years ago, the USCG staged a SAR demo and it was totally awesome.   This particular chopper was their “100th anniversary edition”, yellow instead of the traditional white and orange. I wrote about that amazing experience in this post.  After that day I said “I want one of those” and begin petitioning the USCG to do an event like that at the Essex Yacht Club.   Wish me luck and mark your calendar, June 2019.  Exact date to come.

Of course, when you think about the USCG you may also think about terrible weather and folks getting into all sorts of trouble afloat.   Actually, it’s not the “big kids”, sailors like us that do what we can to be fully prepared when we head to sea, that take the bulk of the energy from the Coast Guard.  It’s the day-sailors and folks on paddle boards that are their “best customers”.   However, when I head out to sea I can’t help but think about what will happen if…

And, when I am more than 350 miles from shore I always take a deep breath as that’s the limit of how far a chopper can go to rescue you if things turn bad.  Of course, on a run south to Antigua, being 350 miles from shore is, well, it’s for most of the time.

The Volvo Ocean Race goes through some pretty nasty stuff as they slog their way around the world, especially as the make their way through the Southern Ocean.   I learned that each boat has a drone aboard.   Awesome!

This video is really amazing.  Perhaps even more amazing is that the drone can keep up with the boat in all that wind.   Listen at the “yahoo” from the crew at the beginning of this short two minute video and watch,at the end, as the helmsman catches the returning drone with his free hand while steering the boat.  These guys, and they are mostly guys, are nuts…  Oh yeah, they are way out of chopper range, for nearly all of the trip. You may subscribe to Scuttlebutt Sailing News.  They recently announced the winner of what I think they said was the “best sailing video”.  The winner was a one minute piece done by AzkoNobel, one of the teams in the Volvo race.  They cram A LOT into a one minute video.  It’s pretty good, actually.All that’s not my cup of tea, and surely not Brenda’s.  I am pretty sure that Brenda would prefer a day on the water that was more like this.  You may recall that when asked “Brenda, what is your favorite part of sailing?”, her answer is predictably, “being anchored”.    Too small a boat you say and yet you do like the umbrella deal?  Try this one instead.  Besides, aboard Pilar Rossi, which we spied in St Barths two years ago,  everbody gets their own spot in the shade. Yes, even I agree that easy sailing or being anchored in a beautiful spot suits me just fine.  Besides, when I was really small and splashed with water, my response, I am told was, “don’t get my wet”.

So, to close the loop on the title of this post, “If I were headed south”, I’d be waiting until the weather looked good.  As the saying goes “here’s to smooth sailing, with the wind on your back”.

Let’s hope that the folks in the Salty Dawg Rally have just that.  Bon Voyage…

See you in Antigua.

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