A rollocking ride up the Tongue to Morgan's Bluff
Date Saturday 14 April 2012
Well the weather change came overnight. First the wind came up from the south east which meant that it was blowing along the line of the shore and the waves started with it. As the night went on the wind rose further and went around so that it was blowing off the beach but the waves running up the Tongue of the Ocean continued from the south east and were accompanied by bouts of torrential rain. It was a very disturbed night as frequent trips on deck were required to make sure that we were safe if ‘shaken and stirred’.
We had considered various options as wherever we went next we would wish to arrive in daylight and that rather pre-determined the time of departure. At about 0300, leaving just as soon as there was enough light to see what we were doing had great attractions. That would give us a good chance of getting the 80 plus nm to Morgan’s Bluff. At 0630 and first light we were getting a steady 30 knots of wind; the compensation is that the wind generators, useless at under 15 knots really get going over 20 knots so we arose to fully charged batteries.
Having prepared and stowed everything the night before it was only a matter of getting our thoughts together to be ready to up anchor and leave on the dot of 0700. The log shows wind of 30 knots true from the east and whilst the wind strength moderated a little we recorded 25 knots plus for every hour of the trip and to our benefit steadily out of the east giving us a beam reach.
We have now owned Caduceus for five years yet we can still learn about what sail combinations seem to work best in different conditions. Our ketch and staysail rig gives us four sails to play with and whilst 30 knots is not gale force you do not need much sail set to make the boat really move on a beam reach.. We started with a half furled staysail, a scrap of main and the mizzen rolled out to the first reef mark. This gave us a steady 6.5 knots. The revelation came when after two hours I decided to add just a small amount of genoa. This made an amazing difference and added 2 knots to our speed and our hourly runs went up to a consistent 8.5nm with nothing much up in the way of sails.
The seas got bigger and bigger during the day, running up on our starboard quarter and occasionally dumping a large amount of green over the boat. The concern then became actually getting into Morgan’s Bluff where the entrance runs from the north east in a south westerly direction and with the waves making 8 to 10 feet. Lining up for the channel at a good distance out we stowed the main and staysail and gybed to put the wind on the port quarter with just a small amount of genoa to provide drive and direction and the engine running to provide speed and managed a controlled if exciting sweep past the breakwater into the calm waters if the harbour. The Skipper was relieved but as they say in the RAF, a good landing is one that you walk away from. The log recorded 84.8 nm covered in 10hrs 40mins, an average of 7.95nm.
For reference entering Morgan’s Bluff, we were about an hour after high water and carried at least 5metres under the keel. There is no bar and whilst the waves were breaking heavily on the shore and on the reefs to the north the channel was OK. Going the other way, i.e. out of the harbour might have been a different matter.
A couple of beers, a comfort meal of gammon chips and beans and an early night in calm waters - bliss!