@ 13:22 GMT
Postion: 41º 35.371 N x 71º 17.081 W
Alongside in Portsmouth, RI
Yesterday began before sunrise with a quiet walk down the marina dock to where Cepheus waited for us. Looking at the weather ahead, I wanted to get an early start towards a variety of options where we could tuck in for the night, if we wanted to. The wind was predicted to be 20 knots sustained with gusts of 30 knots and rain in the evening, which isn’t pleasant to sail in when you don’t have to. When I race, I am at the mercy of whatever wind happens. During this East Coast Expedition, I have built in weather windows that allow for flexibility in the sailing schedule.
There wasn’t much traffic leaving Boston Harbor and the sky started to color as we motor sailed towards the islands. Once we were out into more open ocean, I took a brief nap while Lauren stood watch, guiding us south towards the Cape Cod Canal. The air was quite cool – we commented that it felt more like fall. After a midmorning oatmeal break, we raised the jib and started sailing. I also connected via live video with Virtual Shipmate Anthony, who lives in Connecticut. He was headed to the beach for a day of surfing and was dressed for it – a sharp contrast to my winter hat, sweatshirt, and scarf!
What I think was my last trip through the Cape Cod Canal for the season proved to be a bit choppy, with the winds starting to build. As we exited, we really felt the what some people refer to as the “washing machine” of Buzzards Bay – very bouncy. The wind was right on our nose, so we tacked for awhile before turning on the engine to get further in the right direction. As night started to fall we were treated to some easy miles – reaching and making 7 or 8 knots, with a comfortable angle of heel. I began to think of my previous record passage from Boston to Fort Adams in Newport, RI, which was 17 hours. Would we beat it?
We were keeping an eye on the radar for approaching rain, as well as on the horizon. Clouds with gray lines leading from them to the ocean usually mean that we will get wet soon and this proved to be true again last night. We passed Cuttyhunk Island around 8:30pm and made the decision to tuck into our slip in Portsmouth RI, rather than try to keep going for Block Island. As we made the turn to starboard and eased out the main to go more downwind, the rain began to fall. And the wind started to build in earnest. We had been smoothly making miles with a comfortable 10-12 knots of breeze and suddenly we were seeing 18 knots, 20 knots, 21 knots – we made the right decision to be in a more protected area for the night. Could we have continued to sail in these conditions? Yes, but we didn’t need to.
The next challenge was to take down the mains’l. We had had a reef in it at one point during the day and the storm jib rigged on deck in anticipation of needing it during the higher winds. But the reef had come out during a stretch of lighter winds and we were now faced with striking the full main in the dark and rain, with stronger winds than we would have liked. After a couple quick gybes to stay in the channel, we watched the instruments for a lull in the true wind speed. We were making 11 knots, even with the jib struck. 21 – 18 – 17 – 15 – 13 – time to turn the boat into the wind and get the sail onto the boom, which we accomplished without incident.
And then we took a lesson from Coop, which I learned on our sail back from Bermuda. After a difficult maneuver, take 5 minutes, have a drink of water, and then tackle the next step. We sat in the cockpit in the rain and had our break. We then readied the boat for docking at the marina – lines and fenders out and grabbed the spotlight from below, so find the buoys that marked the entrance to the slips. We were safely alongside by 11:45pm, had a pumpkin bread snack at midnight, and were tucked into sleeping bags by 12:15am. We also realized we’d passed Fort Adams 16.5 hours after departing Boston, officially a new record for me.
We’re resting up today after yesterday’s long sail and will wait out the weather until Tuesday morning to depart for Cape May, NJ and then up the Delaware to Philadelphia. We are still anticipating some strong winds and will be making some quick miles as we sail for our next port stop event. Click here to learn more and register for the events this Saturday, September 11th.