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Thread: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    3,216

    Default Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    Last week I returned to Long Island from Georgia in Wandering Star (39' ketch). We had a good trip, no mechanical trouble, only a couple of nights of bad weather, some good liberty spots. And some challenges. The last night at sea was Sunday April 30 off New Jersey. We had left Virginia Beach the day before with a reasonable forecast and some discussion. I don't like to beat for more than 24 hours, or sail in strong breezes for long. It stops being fun pretty quickly and tires the crew. We had plenty of options to stop if things got bad. The second day the forecast was light southeast becoming fresh northeast, veering and decreasing after midnight. Sunday afternoon it was breezing up a little, we discussed going into Atlantic City. Part of the reason that we continued was that the forecast for Monday and Tuesday called for 25-35, I wanted to be inside by then, not windbound in south Jersey. We were motorsailing upwind, tacking a few times with the main and staysail set. WS carries her three lowers even a bit over 20 knots, so we knew it was blowing harder at sunset when we had to reef. I don't have an anemometer aboard, I'd estimate it was over 30. She had all she wanted with just the deep reef in the main and the modest staysail. The boat stood up well, blasting upwind at 7 knots. She went over those steep seas such that at times the forward part of the hull was airborne, and crashed down on the next wave. The boat loved it, the crew not as much. I didn't see it happen, but we must have had solid water on deck. The staysail cover washed out of a milk crate, the mainmast halyards washed off the cleats were they hung, the lifering washed away. The only damage to the boat was the cabin table broke when I was spilled out of my bunk onto it. Everybody cooperated and looked out for each other, relieving early when the helm was tired. The wind did decrease overnight, we entered NYC in heavy fog, docked in Jersey City for rest or liberty. The next day we sailed down the Sound in a brisk breeze, but less that had been forecast. Had we stopped in AC, we probably could have carried on the next day. But you can only use the forecast you get, and have a bailout plan. (Ours was Manasquan)
    I'm proud of the boat and crew, they could deal with much worse, though I will continue to try to avoid bad weather.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Hyannis, MA, USA
    Posts
    42,944

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    Finastkind.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Mountain lakes of Vermont
    Posts
    9,745

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    It's good to hear from you again and good to know that you and Wandering Star are still doing coastal trips. With that strip planked hull, WS can take a beating that might have a carvel planked boat spitting out her caulking. I'm curious, how big a crew did you have?
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    3,216

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    Ideally Wandering Star sails with four total, as she did on this trip. Each man gets a dedicated berth, all of us can sit comfortably at the table. Watches are two hours on, six off. All hands evolutions, such as fog nav, or reefing in a sea have enough men for the job. I can't say enough about how good this crew is, I've sailed thousands of miles with these guys without a complaint.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    13,203

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    I spend a lot of time on the Jersey Shore, but never sailing. Are the inlets reasonable in bad weather? They look pretty grim from the shore side.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    3,216

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    The guides suggest that only Manasquan, Cape May and Absecon (I think) are suitable heavy weather inlets. I have only been through Cape May inlet in recent years, I'm not sure I would like any narrow inlet in a strong (or higher) NE wind. NY harbor has a deep, wide entrance with shelter inside, Delaware Bay also. We of course had the option of heaving to, though that might not be comfortable in a steep chop. In any case, the need to retire early or take other action never arose. I was certainly thinking about options at the time, but never thought that we would not make NY.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Searsport, Maine
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    Atlantic City is a pretty easy inlet. Shark River also has a tiny spot you can anchor if you need a stopover. With any of them, you'd rather go in with the tide if a big sea is running. The inlets can get pretty nasty otherwise. We've only been by twice, but I can imagine breaking seas in the inlets with outgoing current when it's ugly. Delaware Bay has some shelter, but can be pretty ugly, too, from what I've heard. More options there if you're shoal draft.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    3,216

    Default Re: Trust the Boat and Crew, Not the Forecast

    Thanks, I agree about the tide.
    Lewes Delaware has breakwaters to form a harbor of refuge.

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