Well it isn't Charleston but in some ways it is even
We are now 115 miles further north. In fact, we are
just a grunt from the Chesapeake and way ahead of schedule because we didn't go
to Bermuda. We are ever so glad we didn't go there. We've been
there, but never here.
Right now we are in a very upscale golf and marine real
estate development village called Bald Head Island, NC.
Getting here was not without a great deal of
Before noon yesterday, Friday the 9th., it was obvious
making Charleston in a full blown gale, and fighting the Gulf Stream was
futile. Luckily, the eastern seaboard is a big target, and since we didn't
have to be anywhere in particular, we just altered course to the north a little,
always mindful we didn't want to get to Cape Hatteras. Wherever we made
landfall had to be somewhere south of that dreaded graveyard of the
Our electronic charts are detailed from Jacksonville Fl to
Norfolk VA so we felt confident we could make any port or harbor without much
trouble. This entrance to the Intercoastal Waterway ( ICW ) looked to be
It appeared to have enough aids to navigation for a night
time arrival and was far enough north to make the effort worthwhile.
Fortunately, our C-Map charts (electronic) were up to date and the new
ones show marinas and their services. This one, Bald Head Island Marina,
is the first one inside the river mouth that is the entrance to the ICW.
Finding it was straightforward although it was a little like finding a needle in
It is off a branch of the Elizabeth River and is in a
basin which is back off from the river. All along the river are big
beautiful single family homes. In between two homes is a narrow cut, about
like a streets width and down this cut is the basin. It is almost like
finding a driveway. The marina is part of this real estate development
with a golf course and not visible from the river. Despite that, we found
the cut with no problems at about 10:30PM and turned to enter. We
were in the flood tide period and there was a powerful current in the river that
almost swept us past the cut. I had to use an ungodly amount of power to
overcome the current and keep us from being taken against the cuts entrance
Our eighth day at sea Friday, started beautifully.
It was like a magic carpet ride. Fast with smooth seas and puffy trade
wind clouds. We had the spinnaker up for a while but soon changed to our
standard off the wind combination a poled out genoa and main both on the same
This picture gives you a little idea of what the setup
It is very effective and easy to handle. Releasing
the genoa sheet and rolling the sail up is all we have to do to reduce sail. We
take care of the pole later after the sail has been rolled up.
During the early morning we were watching the sky and
noticed a change in cloud pattern that always signals a weather change.
Sure enough with in a couple of hours, the wind strength picked up enough so we
doused the genoa and flew with the main only. While we had everything up
we hit speeds of over 10 kts several times. In fact we had a contest to
see who could get the highest during their watch. Judy had it at 10.4 kts
but finally I hit 10.6. You can see from the pictures, there was not much
sea, so it was almost all just lots of wind and lots of sail up. At first
we expected to arrive in Charleston in the late afternoon, however with the
speed we were making a late morning arrival seemed possible. Anytime
during daylight would have been ok as entering strange harbors at night should
The wind strength kept building and about this time we
were in the middle of the Gulf Stream with a 3 knot current sweeping us
north. So long as we could keep a lot of sail up, we could overcome the
stream and stay on course. However, as the winds increased we had to
reduce sail and slow down. Soon we had just a double reefed main still
doing up to 9 kts. All of this was in the pitch dark all night long.
It was exhausting work and made doubly so by the motion and heel of the boat as
well as very slippery decks. We had SOSpenders on and were clipped to the
boat in two different places all the time. This made moving about
difficult because we had to always be mindful of where and what we
were clipped to. It had to be something substantial, but within reach of
whatever job we were doing. I prefer anything
near the centerline of the boat. That way, if you fall it is less likely
you will fall overboard and be dragged alongside until you drown. For the most
part, there is no need to leave the cockpit, but even in the cockpit we were
always clipped to the proper attachment points.
After one particular sail change, I went
down below to turn off the spreader lights which we used to see what we
were doing and in the process turned off the pilot by accident. The
breaker switches are one on top of each other and in the rolling and
pitching, my finger hit the wrong one. I didn't realize it until
seconds later when the boat started to violently turn with all sails up.
We became back winded for a second, but with no damage to the sails, thank
I pushed a lot of buttons on the pilot control and it
still wouldn't come back on. It took me a long time to figure
out the switch was off and this was the reason the pilot stopped
working. We thought the pilot had just given up. ( I think we
have a faulty control head. Some years ago it got wet inside and did the same
thing as this time. Maybe it got wet again. Hopefully it will dry
out and be ok. We have two control heads so it is only an
inconvinence until I repair or replace it. ) Finally,
when it dawned on me the spreader lights were still on, I went below
and noticed what I had done. However, when the pilot came back
on, it was erratic, so we hand steered until I could sort out the
problem. I noticed the pilot settings for rudder response had changed
so after I reset them the boat steered as fine as usual. After several
hours the problem occurred again and the control head was making some
weird beeping noises. The setting had changed again so this time
after resetting them I just disconnected that head.
The winds blew at between 28-35 knots all day and we
recorded true wind of 41 knots sometime during the trip. We were in a full blown
gale that ripped up the southeast seaboard and did a lot of damage to homes
and spawned a tornado. The seas became truly awesome. I was
sitting facing backwards for a while, but I became so unnerved watching these
behemoths roar up behind us, I just looked away from them most of the
day. There were individual waves whose crest was sometimes 25
feet above the stern of the boat and only maybe 50 feet behind us. I
thought for sure one would break right into the cockpit, but never, did anything
except spray, come on board from the stern. The boat handled them
perfectly, but for the first time I felt we could be stressing our
pilot. We had too much sail up even though it was only a double
reefed main. Again rather than have an accident or damage the
pilot, we hand steered all day until about 8 PM. It was so tiring,
we only did one hour watches on the wheel all the while getting soaked.
Each wave that broke against the side of the boat sent buckets of water into our
Ours is a boat that must be sailed 100% of the time.
It is so responsive to anything, we must be always working
it. This is good because it goes fast which is fun and also it
gets us off the sea quicker so as not to be exposed to the elements any
longer than necessary. It also means there is a lot to do all the
time. If you couldn't stand a lot of sail handling, trimming, reefing
etc you wouldn't be happy on Jaywalker. It does give us a tremendous
flexibility in that we can tackle passages that most people wouldn't dream of
making. In short, not only can we "sail the weather" the boat gives us the
ability to do it with confidence.
Our passage was 1249 nautical miles ( 1437 land miles )
over a period of 7 days and 14 hours. As you can see from the blog map, it
was straight as a string except for the last 100 or so miles after we diverted
to Bald Head Island. Had we chosen this destination further out in
the Atlantic, it would have been the same distance as to Charleston.
But by not changing our minds until we were so close we ended up sailing two
legs of a triangle instead of just one. Coming on the heels of 7 days of
hard sailing with little sleep didn't make it any easier. It added 100
miles to what was already a long day. Despite everything that occured, Judy had
a hot delcious, made from scratch dinner, every day.
From here, we will take the ICW to Norfolk and the
Chesapeake. This way we avoid hazardous Cape Hatteras and save about 59
This last passage in most likelihood be our last major
ocean experience. I am glad we did what we did. We have confidence
now that we can go almost anywhere and tackle almost anything with
Jaywalker. She is the finest boat we could ever have imagined.
There were no breakdowns or issues that compromised our safety. Plus, she
is such a pleasure to sail, it makes every passage a real adventure,
not something we just have to endure and get behind us. A few weeks ago
our log turned 28,000 miles. Now it has 29,380 nautical miles on
It is a real joy to be back in the comforts of the US and
good marinas where the people smile and are truly happy to have us here. It will
be fun to explore the Chesapeake and who knows where after that. When I
think about it, for us, moving long distances in this boat is no big
In the "what a coincidence department",
today, a guy walked over to the boat looking very serious who I
first thought was from the marina management to collect or tell us to
check in. Instead, it was a gentleman who thanked us for naming our
boat after him. He introduced himself as Jay W Walker. He even gave me his
card to prove it.
It was on May 19th 2000 we began this adventure. In
a few days our ninth year will begin, who'd a thunk what all we've seen
and done. Stay tuned folks; like someone once said, "it ain't over till
the fat lady sings."