Sunday, October 30, 2011

Philadelphia - Bermuda - Puerto Rico

Ahoy Sailors - Hope everyone has found some time to go sailing, in between torrential rains and beastly heat, and now "early winter". I just returned from a delivery to Puerto Rico on an "old fashioned" 40' monohull, a Tashiba 40 double ender. The owner, his brother, and brother's 22 yr old girlfriend and myself made up the crew. The boat was well made, strong, lots of attention to interior finish and other details. Major shortcoming is small cockpit ( suppossedly safer at sea) and cruelty of cruelties, no cockpit cushions! That teak seat got really hard after a few days!.
A recently installed fleming windvane worked ok in windy conditions, but wandered badly in lighter air. We mostly used the electric autopilot, although it managed to unscrew itself from the quadrant at one point, and had to be reinstalled. We departed in a great rush 10/14 @ 8:30 pm, first time ever for a night departure for me, but we were trying to beat bad weather coming north along the coast. We had 2 days of 15-30 kt winds close to beam reach, almost perfect sailing but choppy and uncomfortable - we survived well thanks to "Mom" for pre cooked dinners and cookies, also thwarting my plan to lose a few pounds on the trip.  Capt Jim got a taste of "Mal de mer" but recovered in a day. Everybody heaved at some point (such fun!) last 2 days to Bermuda were motorsailing in light winds.
The crew partied hard in Bermuda for 3 days, then set off for Puerto Rico in 10-12 kt headwinds, sailing close hauled 30 degrees off course. After a day the winds lightened and switched to exactly on the nose, requiring motorsailing for several days. Then an abrupt 180 degree switch, but only 7-8ts of wind, so still motorsailing. Finally had the best day, day 6 and 7, reaching in 15-20 kts, warm enough to stand night watches in shorts and Tee shirt, but sweaty sleeping below. The younger crew periodically threw themselves overboard (once at 5kts!) and hung onto a line, then pulled hand over hand back to the boat and scrambling up over the rail, not easy. I insisted we slow down after that display of (bravery?).
We hustled the last bit motorsailing at 8 kts to make it to an anchorage at Palomino Island at dusk, a few miles from the reef in Fahardo Bay, and stopped at Puerto del Rey Marina next morning, 7 days, for a total of 11 1/2 days at sea. The young folk are still there, but old Cap't Jim had other things to do besides sit next to a sweet thing on a beach and drink rum (what things???) so came back a few days early ( at great additional expense, damn the airlines!) in time for yesterdays weather to cancel the flight from Miami ( oh well). When the bar tab equalled the room bill, I figured I had drowned my sorrows enough.
There might still be a delivery or two left, and maybe a little rock fishing before thie winter sets in in earnest.. Cheers, Happy Sailing and Happy Halloween from Capt Jim and first mate Joyce ( who hung out and kept the home fires burning this time)