Last week I had the opportunity to crew on a passage as my father and step-mom make their way up the east coast in their Bristol 41.1c “Skylark.” We started out in Vero Beach, Florida and ended up in New Bern, North Carolina. I spent 8 days with them so I could be a part of the preparation as well as the passage itself and then my lovely wife came and visited us in New Bern which was quite nice!
To start out the owners of my company generously suggested I take some time off, I haven’t taken a vacation in almost two years so it was about time. With that push, I let my parents know I would be available and they agreed that it would be a good idea to come on a three or four day passage with them. Then the waiting began! Figuring out a good weather window to travel in the gulf stream is serious, if you get North or NE winds you can quickly find yourself surrounded by large dangerous standing waves. This is extremely uncomfortable but it can also be life threatening. My father is pretty good at all things weather and they also work with Chris Parker who is a weather guru specializing in weather for sailing boats in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
Here is dad listening to Chris Parker on the SSB while looking at GRIB files that hes downloaded and taking notes. This trip was particularly interesting as we were following the progression of the tropical low that eventually was named Bonnie.
After we had the green light for stable weather it was time to provision. Dad and Elizabeth went to the grocery store in a rental car and got all the food and drinks we would need for the passage. Elizabeth is very good at figuring out whats needed and making sure that the meals on passage are just as good as any other day! We then went to the Vero Beach public docks to get water, they were currently having problem with their fuel pumps so we did not get any fuel.
Here I am with Luna as we got the boat ready:
At this point we traveled down the Inner Coastal Waterway to Ft. Pierce, Florida. We had to go to Ft. Pierce in order to get out to the Atlantic, but they also had a working fuel dock.
After we were fully provisioned we got a good nights sleep and left at sunrise the next morning.
Once out into the Atlantic we found ourselves in a confused sea that was pretty uncomfortable. At least we had 15 to 20 knot winds and were sailing! Luna, I think, was unhappiest of all followed up by myself. I have never been seasick but something about this welcome from the Atlantic was not sitting well with me! I was still able to eat and carry on though, it was just not very much fun for the first 12 hours. Luna and I often looked at each other like “what are we doing out here in this mess???” haha
It was good sailing however and we were making good time! That night Elizabeth and I took the first watch Elizabeth 7:30-11:30 and myself 7:30-10:30pm. We were even surprised by mother nature with a Green Flash at sunset!
At 10:30 I went to bed and set my alarm for 2:30am for my next watch.
Continued in Pt II…