Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sabbatical Sails South through The Bahamas

A long, but very beautiful video with pictures of all the islands we visited while sailing south through the Bahamas. It includes a visit from NY friends, clips of everyone singing karaoke, and a fishing montage! Get some snacks while you watch or just watch whatever scenes you have time to watch! Sorry its so long but we spent MONTHS in these islands and it was so hard to choose what to include. So many beautiful memories!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bahamas to North Carolina Pt. 2

Sunset at sea
We had 10-20knots of wind out of the East Northeast for the next three days. Aside from motoring the third night and the last few hours of the trip we were able to sail the entire way. The wind was a little too far out of the North to make it to Beaufort so we made landfall in Southport on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.
Nicole a little crazy after 3 nights at sea

As far as offshore passages go it was relatively comfortable and we made good time. The straight line distance covered was four hundred and twenty miles, but we can probably add another 60 miles because we did not sail in a straight line. It took us 80 hours to complete the passage. There were a few points when we were making 10 knots over ground in the gulf stream which really helped.
10.3 knots!

Dad at the wheel
One of the reasons this passage was so much more comfortable than our passage to Cuba (aside from weather) was having my Dad on board. Having a third person meant that we got 6 hours of sleep each night instead of 3. I found myself having time and energy to read or go on the computer. When it was just Nicole and I, anytime I was not on watch I would be sleeping, or terribly exhausted.

A few memorable moments from the passage:
-Dodging squalls the first day
-At 2am we came within a half mile of a large, unlit, stationary powerboat 100 miles offshore. They didn’t respond to the VHF, but they turned their lights on when we hit them with a spotlight. They looked very suspicious.
-One Mahi and two king mackerel caught our last day
-Ashark followed us as I cleaned the catch
-Fixing the autopilot underway

Cleaning the King Mackeral

This is what it looks like when you sail offshore

This is what it looks like when you sail at night

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sea Sickness

Some people say they never get seasick, but I don’t believe them. If you are one of those people who never get seasick I hereby invite you to come disassemble my toilet, in tropical heat, bent over as the boat launches off 10 foot swells.

One of my favorite sea sickness stories is from the 2001 Around Long Island Race. We were in rough conditions on the south shore of Long Island and I started turning green. A few minutes later I was hugging the leeward winch and depositing my lunch in the Atlantic. My friend Drake was at the helm and he found my misfortune quite funny. He teased me about getting sick and I quietly retired to my bunk. Twenty minutes later I heard “huahhhhh huaggghhhh.” Peaking outside I could see Drake in the same position I had been in and I couldn’t stop laughing. My seasickness was cured.

Seasickness is worst for me when I have an empty stomach, try to focus my attention on a small area like reading or when I am bending over. The worst is when all three are combined. I have only been seasick to the point of throwing up 1 time in the last 20 years of sailing. I can usually cure any nausea I have by taking a nap or taking a Dramamine which makes so tired, I end up taking a nap. There is a “Less drowsy” Dramamine which still makes me very drowsy.

This offshore trip I tried a Transderm Scopolamine patch. It’s about the size of a nickel and it sticks behind your ear. The patch disperses medicine for 3 days. I hadn’t planned on using it. I got a prescription in case someone became violently ill. At that point it is too late to give them Dramamine.

After using Scopolamine I have to say I am hooked. I shouldn’t say hooked, (it’s a drug) but I would definitely use it again if the conditions called for it. I was only drowsy the first night and I was able to complete tasks that make me seasick now, just thinking about them. I was able to read in the unventilated V-berth, temperature around 90 degrees, as the boat hurdled off of waves, leaving me weightless, then crashing into the next. I even cooked dinner and did dishes in those conditions.

As an added bonus, there were times that the Scopolamine made me feel quite nice. Most drugs that can cause confusion, agitation, rambling speech, hallucinations, paranoid behaviors, and delusions should make you feel good. Joking aside, seasickness can be as debilitating as severe pain and keep you from carrying out necessary duties at sea. The Scopolamine patch allowed me to perform tasks I could not have done if I was falling asleep on Dramamine or holding a winch and vomiting over the side. Keep a pack next to the painkillers in the “just in case” category next time you go to sea.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bahamas to North Carolina part 1

When my dad arrived in Marsh Harbor to help us sail the boat to North Carolina the weather forecast didn’t look good. There was no wind for the next week. We spent the first and second nights in Marsh Harbor doing last minute provisioning and trying to figure out where to go.

One of the things I have grown to love about our boat is the size of the tanks – 150 gallons of water and 50 gallons of fuel. This is larger than most modern 36 foot boats. Fifty gallons of fuel is enough to motor for about 70 hours, but I like to figure fifty hours to give myself a safety margin. At 5 knots that gives us a range of 250 miles under power - in other words, not even close to North Carolina.

With no wind the best we could do would be to head directly West to Northern Florida. This wouldn’t help us make any progress towards NY, but it would help move the boat away from Hurricanes. Heading to Florida would be a last resort. Gradually the forecast began to improve. The third day we headed west along the Abacos to Foxtown. This would make it easier to get to Florida if we didn’t have and wind, but there was also a cut in the reef that would let us shoot for North Carolina if the wind improved. Foxtown was our last chance to refuel and eat off of the boat for the next few days.

When we woke up in Foxtown there was 20kts out of the North East and we decided to set a course as far North as we could. As soon as we made it through the cut in the reef, the wind died completely and we were forced to start the engine. Florida was back on our minds. I was a little seasick and morale was very low. I figured we would have to reassess our destination based on the wind in a few hours. I got up an hour or two later and there was a nice breeze again with a few small squalls. It looked like we would make it to North Carolina!

A few unedited videos of daily life on S/V Sabbatical

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Free Dock in Oriental, NC

We are on a free dock in Oriental, NC. You can see a live picture of Sabbatical front and center on the Harbor Cam.

Nicole is leaving for some training tomorrow. If anyone wants to go sailing send me an email. There are cheap flights to Norfolk, VA.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Marsh Harbor

We sailed off the anchor in Little Harbor and didn’t start the engine until we approached the fuel dock in Marsh Harbor five hours later. It was a great sailing day and were able to out run other sailboats that were using their engines which is always fun. It is great to be able to travel as far and as long as we have while using very little fossil fuel. I am more conscious of how little our traveling negatively impacts the environment when we are able to sail by a power boat, or watch the sports fishing boats spend thousands of dollars at the fuel dock.
 The first night in Marsh Harbor we decided to stay at the Conch Inn Marina. We needed to load up with 170 gallons of water which would cost about $40 dollars, or we could take a slip which included unlimited water for $50. We were happy to stay at the marina. It’s a nice treat to be able to walk on and off of our boat and they had a pool!
Marsh Harbor is one of the most developed places in the Bahamas. We were happy for the change of pace. Two dollar washes at the Laundromat, a great grocery store and Snappa’s restaurant kept us busy for a few days.  Time passed quickly as we waited for my dad and good weather to make a passage to North Carolina.
On our third day, I took a SCUBA trip with Above and Below Abaco.  The first dive was a sad looking reef, but there was a grouper that enjoyed being patted, and a pair of reef sharks that seemed a little too interested in us. The second dive was to a site called “The Maze.” It had incredible swim throughs and caverns with light shining through holes twenty feet overhead. Even though the swim throughs weren’t deep, dark or very long, I was happy to have a guide lead the way. We also saw a nurse shark and a huge Barracuda. It was, without a doubt, my favorite dive so far. 

Photo by Above and Below Abaco