When Rogan, my former crew buddy on Weatherly, called me last week to ask if I was available to do a weekend delivery from Annapolis to Newport, I realized I hadn’t been sailing offshore in nearly two and a half years. I accepted.
The boat is a brand new carbon fiber sled and had been left in Annapolis for the winter after the boat show in October. The current owner wanted it back in Newport for some spring racing. Rogan, Zach, Austin, Jeremy and I departed Annapolis on Friday afternoon, headed north up the Chesapeake and through the C&D canal.
A dense fog enveloped us as we slid under the railroad bridge.
We rounded Cape May at daybreak, but with still very little wind, kept motoring at about 8 knots. The breeze finally filled in on our starboard quarter so we decided to pull out the asymmetrical spinnaker, which pulled us along at over 10 knots.
This is when things got eventful. The steering quadrant had not been secured correctly by the boat yard who worked on her that winter, and as such it jumped up and into the base of the grinding pedestal. The spinnaker was shrimped and dragged to the boat as Rogan worked out the steering situation. Luckily nothing was broken and we returned to sailing under a main and jib. As night fell the breeze picked up to about 20 knots sustained, right on our port beam. With no way to reef the main, we were soon overpowered with gusts over 25 knots. Zach was having the time of his life surfing down the 5 foot seas, still at our backs, and hit a delivery high of 17 knots of boat speed.
Its worth mentioning that at this point I had not gotten much sleep. A carbon hull is very echoey with a lot of vibrations from either the engine if it’s on, or wave action if it’s not. Also, this boat was outfitted with the most horrendous pipe berths I’ve ever seen. No cushion, just a taut mesh and a gap between the berth and the hull your whole arm and shoulder could fall into. There was absolutely no way to get comfortable and the only way I ended up getting any sleep was due to exhaustion after a cold 2-4 am watch.
It was too much though, and I called for Rogan and all other hands to assist in taking the main down. This went, thankfully, without incident. We continued under jib alone and still made about 8 knots. Montauk was in sight at 8 am Sunday morning. Zach and I were on watch again and we surfed down the now 6-8 foot faces as we motor sailed. Good times!
The boat was safely tied up in Newport by 3 that afternoon. Diegos was the next stop for some much needed beverages. I slept soundly that night.
Although I was completely exhausted in both mind and body by the end of the trip, it was absolutely worth it. My first offshore experience in well over two years was well due and has only served to reinvigorate my taste for those kinds of experiences. Sailing into Narragansett Bay was extremely nostalgic and nearly brought tears to my eyes. I vowed it would be the last time for a while though, especially during the shoulder months, I am thoroughly done with high latitude sailing. But damn, seeing Montauk Light, Block Island, Point Juidth, Beaver Tail and finally Newport Bridge rise from the horizon after a long delivery was moving to say the least.