CARIBBEAN 1500

 

1993 - Our 1500 mile

sail from Hampton, Va, to St. Thomas

Thursday, October 21 1993

 

Today was the beginning of the delivery that David and  I will  do on Jessie.  We had spent most of the prior week preparing for this momentous occasion (my first delivery with David as Captain).  He had spent countless hours trying to negotiate with Figueras, the owner of Daniubo, as to the outstanding bill of $120,000.00.  It was nip and tuck all of the way with his finally achieving his goal.  None of us thought that he, or anyone else could pull it off, but he did.  We were all very proud of him and because of this the beginning of our trip got off on a very positive start.  

 

We set his wrist alarm for five, although we needn't have as I was awake most of the night due to excitement.  I was up with the coffee made by five.  We did all of the last minute things, including having a delightful  bon voyage breakfast on the porch.  That was the first time we had watched the sun  come up together since we have lived on Frenchman's Cay.

 

Barry, our taxi driver and the brother of one of David's employees, picked us up at 6:20 and took us to the airport.  It was a fast and furious drive as it was still quite early and a Tortolan  holiday to boot.  After checking in our luggage, having a last cup of coffee, and going through the non-detection center, we boarded the American Airlines flight for San Juan.  Arriving at 8:30, we had two hours to kill before our flight to Baltimore.  We ate a proper airport breakfast (terrible) and bought all of the proper magazines. David chose two computer magazines and a Vanity Fair for me and we settled ourselves in the waiting room at the end of  our concourse at Gate 15.

 

Boarding on time we had a quiet but nice three hour trip undisturbed by music, movies, or noisy neighbors and heightened by two Bloody Marys.  We arrived at the Miami  Airport on time and immediately rented a  bright red four door Ford Tempo from Budget Rental.  It was fun being in a new car, listening to country music, driving on the right side instead of our customary left, and being amongst so very many people in their cars.  We had not been in America in over a year and certainly not on anything like the super highways  found there.

 

Believe it or not, or first stop was to a huge K-Mart.  Did we ever have a ball.  It took two carts to carry everything.   We bought all of the many items that are so costly in the islands -- razors, toothpaste, Melody's baby and shower presents, four pairs of jeans for David and all kinds of supplies for the boatyard such as plastic trash bags and Bounty paper towels, deodorant, vacuum bags, etc.  All

in all we spent a whopping $265.00.  Also David had to buy his annual Halloween costume.  This  was loads of fun as he tried on at least ten masks before he decided on one that depicted the ugliest woman I have ever seen.  He bought it and wore it with a sexy  T-shirt depicting a woman in a bikini.  

Feeling like Christmas had arrived and Santa was bountiful, we left to find JESSIE at the boat dock in Annapolis.  What a lovely town.  I was quite enchanted by the restorations of all of the older homes and am always glad to arrive there once more.  Last year we were lucky enough to be able to attend the Annapolis Boat Show.  This year we were to deliver JESSIE  to Norfolk, Va. to participate in the Caribbean 1500 Race.   It begins in Norfolk  on October 30 with a week of seminars and events in preparation for the actual race to St. Thomas.

 

We checked into the boatyard and met  the new owner, a burnt out druggie musician by the name of John.  He turned out to be a delightful friend and a damned good boat person.  He even took us back from the car return place, several days later,  in his 9000 Mercedes.  What a guy -- long scraggly hair, dirty finger nails, the works, and a heart of gold.  

 

After settling in the boat, we left and drove out to see David's old love and soul mate and fellow co-worker at Digital, Debbie Mitchell.  We had spent the night with her  and her family the year before and I totally enjoyed being with them again.  Debbie and her husband Bob live in a lovely large home and have two small children, a one year old ,  Matthew, and a six year old, Nathan, who is a whiz on computers at his tender age.  We had a couple of drinks, talked about old times, new times and good times.  

Departing at around nine, we drove back to Old  Annapolis and had a delightful dinner at Marmadukes of soft shell crabs, shrimp and rock fish.  After a couple of drinks and delightful conversation, we were more than ready for bed.  We fell into a soundless sleep. We are unaccustomed to sleeping at a dock instead  of at anchor.   It is also odd being at a calm harbor instead of  having the soft roll of Caribbean waters.  Another thing we were  unaccustomed to was the weather.  It had rained all day and I was a cold as I ever want to be.

 

FRIDAY

Fortunately, upon awaking on Friday morning the weather had changed to sunshine and the crispness that one loves on a beautiful fall day.  We had several cups of very strong coffee made with freshly ground beans and a bagel with creamed cheese.  I had remembered to thaw all of the necessary breakfast items the night before.  I spent the morning in taking a complete inventory of all of the food on board on the computer.  What an assortment and with no organization at all, but since all provisioning comes out of David's delivery money, I wanted to have a complete knowledge of what was in stock.  Actually, it was loads of fun seeing what other people eat -- things that I would never think of buying.

At  11:00 Debbie and Nathan picked me up and  took me shopping for all of the extras that I wanted to purchase while in the states-- beads for my jewelry, tops for the winter, and a good Thesarius for writing.  We had a wonderful lunch at one of the huge ultra trendy restaurants that now populate the cities of America.  The Puddy Wagon with juke boxes, video machines, cookie and brownie shops, and a deli that included everything from Ruebens to Taco Salads.  I treated and the three of us had a hearty meal for twenty dollars.  Unbelievable, as that would have cost fifty dollars at Pussers back home.

Debbie and I had a good conversation concerning David.  I bribed Nathan with quarters for the video games so that I could pick her brain.  It turned out to be good pickin' as she had been David's true love for many years.  She was very articulate about things that I probably already knew but had trouble putting into words.  The essence was :

1.  That David is a very sensitive and highly intelligent man who thinks enough of the women in his life to go out of his way to please them and to try and understand them.  We both found this amazing as he virtually hated his mother as she always compared him to his dead brother, Paul.

2.  That David didn't care a thing about money or security so that his fortunes would always be either up or down.   She suggested that if I had money of my own and felt insecure about putting it in both of our names that I should not do so.  He would never mean to hurt me, he just didn't/t place as much emphasis on it as I appeared to.  Anything that would make me uncomfortable would make the relationship uncomfortable.

3.  She thought that David and I were very well suited, not only in personalities (outgoing) but in our common love of freedom, the outdoors, and sailing in particular.  I told her about David's dream of living outside of Everglade City when he was really old, with lots of  old boats and cars in the yard and she howled.  When I added that I found that sort of lifestyle very appealing she laughed even more and said that she could see us both as very old hippies living the life we chose, which so few people have the opportunity to do.

4.  We also discussed David's approach to parenting which is none of my business as he is not the father of any of my children.

 

All in all, we had a delightful time with serious discussion.  It was as if I had known her for years, not just seen her once before.  The odd thing about it is that I have always been secretly jealous of her relationship with David and had flown into a slight tissy the night before about having to go to her house as soon as we arrived in Annapolis.  It just goes to show that we will never understand all of the many wonderful surprises that life has in store.

 

Returning to Jessie around 3:00, I found David up to his elbows in work .  I finished my food inventory and we started having cocktails with all good intentions of going out for a gourmet meal.  Well, as good luck would have it, lovin' turned out to be of a higher priority than food so we spent the entire evening talking, drinking, and making love.  What a guy!

 

SATURDAY  OCT. 23

 

After having a big breakfast on the boat and returning the car via John and his son , Eddie, we cast off all of our lines around 10:15 and motored out of the Annapolis Harbor, waiting only twenty minuets for the bridge to open.  The city was glorious from the water and I totally  enjoyed viewing  the Naval Academy (where I had spent a week in 1957 attending June Week and the Ring Dance), the state capital, the waterfront, yacht club and all of the other  visual wonders that make that small town such a memorable place.  

We headed out into the Chesapeake Bay and headed on a course of  about 194^ South for eight miles.  We motored at 7 1/2 knots for about six hours.  I really learned a lot as David had me reading the charts and finding the buoys.  We then changed to 186^ for 11.9 miles until we were  out of the Little Choptank River.  The next leg was 165^ for 5.6 miles getting into the thinner part of the Bay.  At RW  "CP" we took a new heading of 183^ for 10 miles.  We were several miles from each shore so the visibility as to homes, etc. was virtually eliminated.  However, as it was Saturday, we passed at least five local races with as many as thirty participating boats.  The most interesting being the J 24's doing a down wind leg across the finish line with all of their lovely spinnakers flying.

We spent the night at a beautiful anchorage up in the forks of Solomon's Island, a very upscale community with several other sailing vessels around us--all headed south for the winter.  As this was my first opportunity to help navigate up unknown waters, I had a good deal to learn.  1.  Don't follow the boat ahead of you.  He either has a different destination or doesn't  know where he is going.  2.  Buoys  do not always provide the information that the charts say they should.  1.  They are so covered in bird shit or osprey's nests that they are unreadable 2.  The buoy tenders used the wrong color of paint, decided to knock off early because in their minds anyone crazy enough to sail these estuaries should know what they are doing in the first place 3.  Put the information that you were looking for on the other side of the buoy so that is only readable to those approaching you -- thus a collision course.

We cooked huge steaks that Orren was kind enough to leave and had equally as large baked potatoes covered with butter and sour cream.   I declined liquid refreshment, due to the night before, but David had his customary run and tonics.  He went to bed before me as I took the opportunity to begin this journal on the computer plus play a few games of Vegas Solitaire.  Needless to say that I didn't win but enjoyed it anyway.  I slept badly as I am nervous about the passage and  my lack of navigational skills.

 

SUNDAY, OCT. 24

 

We awoke about 8:30 and made love, as it will probably be a long time before we do again.  As always, I enjoy David more and more.  We then pulled up our anchor and headed out the channel.  Little did I know that our first negative encounter was about to occur.  I failed to read the charts and just followed the boats ahead of us.  David was furious.  He also discovered that I had not yet located the tachometer and was just adjusting speed according to what I thought was favorable and not what he was directing.  He really gave me a tongue lashing.  I went below to make breakfast and started a crying session that took me through the next half hour.  I just couldn't stop.  All of the frustrations that I have been feeling for the past months just seemed to surface.  David felt terrible about this, although we didn't discuss it, but he went out of his way to be pleasant during the rest of the day.  He even put up all of the sails so that we had at least 3 hrs. of quiet, uninterrupted sailing.  It was a lovely, crisp fall day and we enjoyed the winds which averaged about 12 - 15 knots.  When they went below 8 we turned on the engine and motored the rest of the way.

Our course was 171^ for 15.6 miles changing to 185^ for 6.4 miles bringing us to the mouth of Fleets Bay where the beginning of the Rappahannock Bay.  We followed the narrow and very shallow channel up to Little Bay and actually passed four buoys with # 2 on them, which I found very amusing.  

A 33' CSY followed us in and David overheard them remark upon seeing Jessie, " I wonder how they got down here from Illinois?"  That tickled us as Jessie's home port is Mettawa. Illinois, but as Orren purchased her in Portsmouth Rhode Island  where she was built, she has never been further west than  Annapolis which lies at 76^ W 30.

Although I had defrosted chicken for supper, we were too stressed to eat as the depths coming into where we finally anchored had averaged 10' for almost a mile and Jessie draws 6 1/2.  We entered at around 2 1/2 knots and David was totally "tuckered" upon arrival.  Considering my crying, which comes upon me about ever two years, I was also.  We brought out the rum and tonics and devoured an entire wedge of Brie cheese with delicious fresh crackers.  It turned quite chilly upon turning  dark..  Putting on our sweaters, several pairs of socks, and our long underwear we dressed for the night and bed.

 

MONDAY, OCT. 25

 

We awoke while it was still dark and watched a lavender sunrise  through the forward port lights.  As always, there was much haze and fog on the water, but the hues of dawn still broke through and  the sunrise was a delight to watch.  David made an enormous pot of coffee and we sat quietly in the cockpit, knowing that this was our last morning alone and quiet for quite some time to come.  Around 8:00 the fog began to lift and we pulled up anchor.  Here we were in 10' of water and the depth sounder was registering 278'.  Obviously, something was wrong.  Well, we would fix it later as we needed to get underway immediately as we had 55 miles to cover to reach Norfolk by nightfall.  The winds were slight at around 4 - 5 knots so were decided to motor at 7 1/2 knots.

Leaving Fleets Bay we took a due east heading until we arrived 2 1/2 miles out into the channel. We then proceeded south on a course of approximately 200^.  As we were so far out there was little to see so I made an enormous breakfast of scrambled egg beaters with mushrooms, green peppers, and onion, bagels with creamed cheese, and real hash browns with onion.  Delicious!  With the wonderful $1,000.00 binoculars that Orren has on board, I was able to see  the light house at New Point Comfort and all of the many coastal homes, most built on pilings,  as we made our way down the Chesapeake.

We made excellent time as the wind was light and the water almost calm enough for water skiing.  By  3:00 p.m. we had come to the mouth of the Norfolk Harbor.  David had not prepared me for the Naval ships there were there.  I had no idea that this was the largest Naval station in the world and was aghast at the fleet that awaited us.  An aircraft carrier was coming in at the same time and the decks were covered by all service personnel in full dress standing at attention.  That was something else.  Meanwhile a helicopter flew overhead and a small plane pulled a banner in greeting through the sky.  There were half a dozen freighters, cargo ships, and assorted Naval vessels also in the entrance as well as at least fifteen pleasure boats and ten or so sailing vessels.  

We all  arranged ourselves nicely in line and motored, like little ducks in a row, past the enormous Naval docks where at least ten huge ships were tied.  David was particularly interested in the dry docking facilities for both the naval vessels and the cruise ships.  A little larger than Frenchmen's Cay Shipyard to say the least.  I was able to take pictures at a  very close angle and that was fun.

We arrived at the Norfolk  City Marina docks, having radioed ahead and were given a wonderful location next to the Caribbean 1500 office and tent.  We checked in and got all of our free goodies, a wonderful travel bag, burgee flag and information kit.  I bought brightly colored polo shirts  for all of the kids for Christmas.  We straightened up the boat and met Tom Tursi who will be our navigator for the rally.  He is a really special person who was an engineer in the Navy for thirty years and was responsible for designing and redesigning engines on the large carriers and subs.  He now heads the Maryland School of Sailing and Navigation.  I think that working with him will be a delight and he seems to get along well with David.

We three went to the tent at 5:30 for a welcoming cocktail party and met all of the other skippers and their crew.  Met some really interesting people.  We were tired and had some wine so we came back to Jessie where  David made a delightful chicken and mushroom dinner.  After a bottle of wine, we retired and slept really well.

 

TUESDAY  OCT. 26

 

We had a general meeting this morning under the tent concerning all of the safety rules that must be adhered to before departure.  It scared me to death.  I was ready to get a one way ticket   home.   Being out at sea is serious business.  I don't think that I had a really good appreciation of how much is involved to be safe at sea.  It was a very sobering two hours.

We all put in a hard day of work.  Took down the foresail for repairs .  David and Tom worked on all of the systems that seem to be out of order.  We hooked up our external water supply and I did a load of wash.  Imagine being on a yacht with a washer and dryer.  I also did more provisioning and even sneaked a trip in to the mall that adjoins the yacht  basin.  I bought some small stocking stuffers for the kids and also a gold anklet and bracelet for a really good price.  I returned to Jessie just at 5:30 when the guys were packing it up for the day and we all headed off to the tent for the social hour.  We watched slides of one of the member's trips down island.  It was nice to have been there in person and once again  I am very thankful that David and I live in the Caribbean.  Also it is so damned cold here and it rained off and on the entire day.

After the social hour Rick, the chef on Emerald Lady, took seven of us out for a spectacular Italian Restaurant.  We had a great meal with much Chianti and good conversation all around.  The table consisted of David, Tom, Rick, myself and three new people.  Gerry and J.J. are French Canadians and are on a boat together.  Ted is a retired attorney specializing is air navigation cases.  We had a good discussion.   Back to the boat and to bed for a sound sleep.

 

WEDNESDAY OCT. 27

 

Got up late and had coffee in the cockpit.  It is really cold here.  The two other crew members still haven't arrived and I think David is a little worried about that.   David really wasn't feeling too great after last night so I took advantage of the leisure time and did all of the provisioning that we needed in addition to the provisions that were onboard when we arrived, most of which were left over from  Jessie's last delivery north.  Kevin, the captain on Emerald Lady, rented a car and let me go with him as he had to provision for his  boat, which has a crew of eight men.  Imagine feeding a group like that--their average weight is probably close to 200 lbs.  As it was a rainy day, we kind of hung around the boat all day doing the odd jobs that needed to be attended to.  I cooked a good broiled ham with mashed potatoes dinner and we went to bed early.

 

THURSDAY,  OCT 28

 

Everyone awoke rested and ready to do the daily chores.  David went up the mast and found a

shackle pin coming out of both the staysail and the genoa stays.  He corrected it and thanked God that he saw it as it would definitely have caused us untold problems  while underway.  The foresail arrived back from the sail repair people, having been nicely patched.   I visited several book stores and took a walking  tour of Norfolk, visiting both the old Baptist church and  St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the oldest standing building in Norfolk being the only one to survive the Revolutionary War.  The cannon ball is still lodged in the wall  and  the chapel was especially beautiful, being lighted with authentic Williamsburg chandeliers and sconces with federal architecture throughout.  

There were many old tombstones in the walled greens.  I found one that had to be an ancestor of mine on my paternal grandmother's side who was a Randolph from Virginia.  The name read Meade Randolph died 1825.  That was exciting to me and I had a delightful chat with the lay leader of the parish who filled me in on all kinds of interesting history and stories concerning the church.

The stained glass windows were early  Tiffany and were truly beautiful.  You can really tell their glass techniques from all of the others of their generation.  The yellows, blues, and grays change as the outside light goes through the day.  Having thoroughly enjoyed that I returned to the boat and joined the guys in the daily social hour at the tent.  Mimi ---- who is Steve Blacks assistant (he runs Caribbean 1500) showed us her slides of her six year around the world sail with her husband.  She was really a treat and we all wanted to start on our cruising schedules immediately.

David too Tom, Mike and me out for a delightful Italian dinner .  I had  pasta Alfrado with escargot and a glass of white wine.  Want to cut to down on the drinking as well as the coffee and sugar on this trip.

 

SATURDAY OCT 30

 

We got up around eight to a perfectly dismal day, gray, rain and the forecast of a really bad storm coming our way in a few hours.  Unfortunately, we took an unnecessary couple of hours getting ready to change docks from the one where we were to Taylor's Landing, several hours away and closer to the starting line of the rally.  We thought that we were going to beat  the storm and no one actually did everything that we normally do while going out to sea.  

Terry, another crew member and a friend of Mike's from Chicago, had arrived after I went to bed last night, so we all met him and had coffee and breakfast.  We left the dock with the dryer shaft still in, the fenders not tightly secured, the outboard motor not ready for sea, and several other little things undone.  Needless to say the storm hit us with fury.  Winds of 35 knots and a sea that was banging enough to cause the engine to shut off.  We put out the headsail to storm size and sailed while David worker on the engine.  Since he knows everything there is to know about this boat, having been the project manager for the building of Jessie five years ago, he was able to get the engine running and we motor sailed the rest of the way.  It was raining, wet, and cold, with really bad winds.  Mike took the helm alternating between  auto pilot and manual sailing.  David and Terry went up on the foredeck several times to secure things that had come loose in the wind--the staysail bag and the fenders.  Tom did and excellent job at navigating taking us on a course out of  City Marina, Norfolk.  We left at 10:30, heading north on the Elizabeth River past the railroad stockyards to starboard and Cranny Island Disposal area to port.  We continued on past the Naval Shipyard, to starboard and on out into Hampton Roads Bay.  We then turned northeast and passed Willoughby Bay to starboard .  We then motored Fort Wool to starboard and Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe to port.  

Changing our heading to east we passed Thimble Shoal Lighthouse.  Winds at this time were from the east at 30 knots and the  rain was pouring in.  At 12:30, when we were within the lighthouse, the engine died due to  a fuel shut off caused by an enormous wave.  Terry, Tom and Dave put out the genoa and we trimmed sails for close haul on a northeasterly heading.  This headed us towards the shoals themselves causing us to tack and head back toward the se.  After ten minuets, the engine had been repaired  and we motor sailed at low power.

We continued on, taking several times, and entered Little Creek at 14:36.  We called ahead and got a slip at Taylor's which turned out to be for a much smaller boat.  It was a bit hairy as we are so protective of Jessie, but after much discussion of lines and fenders we nestled her safely in even though we would have preferred a larger slip.  I fixed a lunch of sandwiches and hot soup which the guys seemed to enjoy.  Our sixth crew member, Philip, an adorable young man of 24 who has just finished his masters in city planning and environmental studies, came aboard with many needed items from boat U.S.  He is so enthusiastic, actually the entire crew is, and  he just fit right in.  Having reared two sons into adulthood I was aware that his diet would be different than hours.  I made him two sandwiches (instead of our one as we are all watching  our weight) and he told us all of the latest stories from the BOC dock where he is working with Mike Carr who will race in the BOC on IMAGINE.

We settled down after getting JESSIE  once again berthed into her dock.  I made a huge pot of spaghetti with garlic bread and a toss green salad.   I am getting a terrible cold so I started on massive doses of vitamin C.  The guys all stayed up talking, but I headed to bed and fell asleep while reading "The best Short Stories of 1993".  Read a really good one by Mary Gordon of Final Payments, entitled "The Furniture".  It could really have fit in with Scott Peck's theory of evil as it was written in the first person narrative and told of her father dying and how she was not allowed to see him, to speak of it.  Her mother sold all of her toys etc, and their house and they moved in with her maternal grandmother.  She was around eleven at the time and was never allowed to speak of what had happened.  It reminded me of so many things in my own background of which we were never allowed to speak -- menstruation, sex, the time I was attacked, why we moved so often, and most importantly, any feelings that we had concerning a number of subjects.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31---  HALLOWEEN

 

I awoke early and got on a huge pot of coffee for the crew.  As we were having our first cup of coffee, David appeared at the door in his Halloween Costume.  He had on the huge ugly rubber mask

we had purchased at  K-Mart in Norfolk, depicting some demented whore and a long cotton T-shirt with lace underwear on them.  It really was quite funny.

David, Tom and I then headed up to the clubhouse at the Marina for our daily briefing concerning the Caribbean 1500 Rally.  We are still planning on leaving at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 2 with more than --- in our fleet.  The weather  was  really freezing , so I stayed on the boat most of the day doing all of the many  below deck jobs that are necessary for our passage.  I also treated myself to another "story", a hot cup of tea, and a small nap.

There was a Halloween Party  for the fleet at the clubhouse.  Not having brought any costumes, the crew wore painted faces instead -- Mike’s said "Kiss Me I'm Yours" with big painted lips on the side of his cheek and hearts on his forehead.  Terry's said "I Love You --Come with me" on this forehead.  He has a beautifully receding hairline so it looked great and he probably had to say "no" to the California blond that has been eyeing him (according to Mike) since the rally began.

Tom wore a wonderfully electric blue acrylic short "Annie" wig .  I painted his face as a clown's with big rosy cheeks and a happy smile, which he naturally has anyway.  David wore his "costume" and we all wore layers of thermal underwear, jeans and foul weather gear.  It rained cats and dogs.  I actually thought that they would have some food, which they didn't, so David took us to a Chinese Restaurant to eat really mediocre  Chinese food.  The funny thing was that it was located between  a series of strip joints and had a Vietnamese pool hall attached  to it in which all of these weird young men   (no expressions whatsoever)   were playing pool.  They  didn't serve liquor or beer, so we left early and headed back, in the rain once again, to JESSIE.  

Feeling awful and coughing constantly, I went to bed and slept periodically.

 

MONDAY,   NOV. 1

 

I spent the entire day on the boat as I was really sick.  Someone bought me some Robitussan and my coughing became better.   Am still taking multi doses of Vitamin C.  As it was our last day before takeoff, there were a couple of loads of wash to do, the continual stowing of things that are unneeded,  and meals for the crew.  The guys checked all of the rigging, installed the inverted, cleaned the entire aft lazarette (a Herculean job) , went up the mast, checked all of the lines and halyards, lubricated the carrs and all of the rigging.

There was a farewell cocktail party at the clubhouse at 5:30.  Everyone went.  I stayed on the boat as I didn't feel like going  and I wanted to have some time to myself.  It was just enough and I  had  the time to prepare a lovely  bon-voyage dinner of London Broil, diced red potatoes with butter and sour cream, hot French bread, a tossed green salad, and a wonderful bottle of red wine.  I set the table with a cloth and matching linen napkins and had the lights dimmed and everything cleaned by the time they returned.  If I say so myself, it was a wonderful meal and we all  enjoyed both the food and the company.  

The Robitussan was kicking in and I slept much better than last night

 

TUESDAY, NOV. 2   RACE  --   DAY 1

 

We all awoke at the same time and had two pots of coffee.  David and Tom went to the skippers' meetings and the rest of us got the boat ready for a 10:00 departure.  I cleaned like a house afire and had the entire boat ready when David returned.  He didn't say so, but I think he was impressed.  I started dinner early, taking eight chicken breasts out of the refrig. and boiling them in tomato sauce with cut tomatoes.  After cooking it for fifteen minuets, I left them covered, in the pot, for the remainder of the day.  Later on, at dinnertime, I would stir in a frozen package of ;veggies and add a loaf of garlic French bread for a really delicious dinner under heavy seas.

We left the dock on time and  went immediately to the fuel dock where we took on  60 gallons of diesel.  We had the dock master take a group picture of us with each of our cameras and cast off.  We stowed all of the dock lines and prepared to raise the mainsail.  Terry and  Philip are our foredeck people with Mike working the mainsail , main halyard, and traveler, Tom below as navigator and David at the helm.  I am the chief cook and bottle washer and "fill in for any of the above jobs with the exception of foredeck and navigation.

After hoisting our main, with one reef in, we motored out through Little Creek  breakwater and watched the rest of the fleet come out.   The starting line was marked by a  red and white buoy.   Our start was at noon with motoring allowed, without penalty, up to the start.  Of course, as this is a ten - twelve day passage with no one wanting any unnecessary wear and tear, everyone decided to motor to the start.  This made it much more safe than David and I are used to and actually, I thought, just as much fun.

JESSIE was the first over the line with ROULETTE  and EMERALD D LADY right behind.  Even with the unusual rules that apply to this rally,  one could still sense the fierce beat of competition.  I guess it just runs in our blood --sailors at sea.

We headed  East towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and then on towards Cape Henry Lighthouse, leaving it about two miles to starboard.  We settled down for a sea keeping routine and sat a course of 145^ magnetic. for the first leg of our passage.  This will take us to a point approximately 200 miles south of Bermuda at the intersection of lat. 28 North; Long. 65 west.  After reaching that point we will turn south and head for St. Thomas running down  interstate 65.

We sailed for an hour or so in nice winds of  12 - 15 knots.  They then dropped to below 4 knots and David decided that we should motor until  (when sailing is 1/2 of less of your motoring speed then you motor)  Everyone became acquainted with the rolling of the sea and, although no one became ill, I was very glad that I brought , not only my ginger root pills but the ginger root itself.  Using a garlic press, I made a very strong tea with the root and I hope helped to avoid seasickness in two of our crew.  At least they said so.

Mike was elated when on his watch, he saw two dolphins.  Towards dinner we were all sitting in the cockpit when this magnificent white owl  kept trying to land.  He sat for a while on the stern rail and then lost his footing.  Six or seven tries later, he gave up and flew elsewhere,  but we all felt that it was a good omen for a safe sail.

I had the 8 - 10 p.m. watch which David took with me, while everyone else settled down in their berths for the night.    Watching the harvest moonrise was really quite a sight.  A huge orange ball  coming up into the sky from the water.  We stared, transfixed, for  quite a while each asking internally, "isn't it

this kind of feeling that brings us all, at last to the sea?  To the natal mother of  us all with her many moods and rhythms and all of her great bountiful  beauty and wrath.

 

DAY 2  --WEDNESDAY, NOV. 3

 

We crossed into the Gulf Stream about 1;30 with the water temperature dramatically changing from 73^ to 81^ in an hour.  By the time morning came the hull of  JESSIE had already warmed making the third pair of socks that I was wearing unnecessary.

I awoke early having the 4 - 6 am watch.  David stayed with me and I greatly appreciated  

that as I am a little rusty on watches.  The night was cold but beautiful, the sky being filled with stars.

The moon was  about two o’clock in the sky and was a  bright white.  It was a good watch but I was glad to be able to take a hot shower and go to bed, which I did until about eleven.  

I made great tuna, relish, onion and mayo sandwiches served with hot chicken noodle soup for lunch.  The guys loved it and caused me to reflect back to the years  that I spent "Mothering" to my two teenage sons and all of their many friends.  Living on the sea, I can remember well the happy smiles of the "guys" after a great filling lunch which followed their  hours of surfing.  There is something so wonderful about the male species when he is in nature-- content and full.  

After lunch I stood a solitary watch and saw a freighter pass in front of our bow about five miles.  I forget about the east - west cargo boats.  One has to remain alert. One of the halyards got caught in the top of the mast and Philip had the opportunity to try out the boson’s chair.  The seas were calm so he was successful and enjoyed all of the photos that we took of him  aloft.

Philip had smoked a  turkey for us that he had brought, so we had that for dinner with stove top dressing and snow peas in a cream sauce.  David finally got the video working so the guys settled down to watch Top Gun/  I had the 8 - 10 watch so I missed it --big deal- as if being with 5 guys a sea for ten days isn't enough macho for me.

 

DAY 3  THURSDAY  November 4

 

As the weather was warmer today and the seas calm, all of the guys celebrated by taking a shower.  I think it lifted their spirits as we had to motor for several hours due to the lack of wind.  As people were tired from  all of their watches, we took a lot of naps also.  We listened to the ‘Chat Hour’ with the fleet and were sorry to learn that TESSA, a beautiful Little Harbor 46,' had dropped out of the rally and headed to Bermuda for safety and diesel.  They had been in a storm and one of their reefing lines had become coiled around the prop.  I would hate to dive in  the sea to cut lines on the propeller.   God, we have to be crazy to love this  kind of life.

David cooked a great dinner of Italian sausage spaghetti with garlic bread and red wine.  We sat in the cockpit and talked, all of us enjoying finally being in the southern weather at last.

 

DAY 4 -- FRIDAY NOV.5

 

I had the early 4 -6 is watch this morning and for the first time since we left, I was able to be comfortable at the helm.  Both of the side windows were up on the bimini so I felt the sea breeze on my face.  The night was perfectly beautiful and not one thing of  danger did I see.  It is mornings like this  that reminds you of why we are all out here on the sea.  Such serenity, even if it could change with the passing of a breeze.  I had a solitary 2 hr watch and, as often happens in such periods of introspection,  my thoughts went back to my family. I am still trying  to figure out the puzzle and make myself feel a little less guilty about my life.  Specifically, my thoughts were on Michael and Taylor--something way out of my control with no solution as far as I can see.  I have to remind myself that Michael's problems started before I left Bud, not after.

I went back to bed at 6 am, having left out coffee, bagels and creamed cheese for breakfast for the boys.   As we were on a port tack of approximately 200^  and the lee cloths were up on our bunk, I slept soundly until 11 or so.  When I finally awoke it was to a warm sunny day, finally, and I spent ten minuets or so just looking up at the water crystals and the rainbow reflections they mirrored in the room.  Like looking up into the facets of hundreds of small diamonds.

I fixed a big lunch of pizza bread smothered with David's leftover spaghetti sauce from last night.  We were flying full sail with forsail and  continued on our way at a lovely 7 - 8 knots.  The sun was so warm that  the entire crew put on their shorts.  I settled in with the latest  Vanity Fair in my lap -- the one with the naked Sylvestor Stallone  portraying Rodin's "Thinker" on the cover.  The boat  was rolling so much that I could not read and just looked at the pictures instead.

I had the 3 - 6 m watch as well and what a time we had.  We caught our first tuna.   He was on the line and we had not even known it.  He was drowning.  When we finally got him aboard, Mike hit him swiftly with the wench handle and ended his misery.  Talk about male bonding -- I have never seen such boyish glee.  We brought out the beer and made many toasts to  skills, to virility, and to their expertise in fishing.  They were truly elated and I would not have missed seeing the good time that this fish brought for anything.

They then proceeded to the galley where the filleting, seasoning and cooking began.  Needless to say, we  had one wonderful dinner consisting of sautéed tuna, wild rice, garlic bread and many good laughs.  There was much photo taking during this  two hour episode also.  Philip with the fish.  Mike with the fish.  Terrry with the fish.  "Don't forget that it was MY lure that caught the fish" pipes in David, who had  his picture taken.

After dinner we listened to the chat hour with Hal on SNOW GOOSE and heard the daily report on the conditions with the rest of the fleet.  We  also listened to the weather forecast that  has predicted 20  knot winds for the night so Terry and Mike went up on the foredeck  to reef the main with two  reefs for the night.  The jenny is still 100% but we can furl it in at any time.  Everyone settled down for a quiet evening and I took a short nap as I had the midnight to 2 watch/

 

DAY  5 -- SATURDAY NOVEMBER 6

Everyone slept badly as the boat literally pounded through the water.  I felt like I was inside a washing  machine.  

I had the 12 - 2  a.m. watch that was pretty lively.  The winds were about 18 knots and our heading was 180^.  We were sailing at about 7.4 knots when we had a big wind shift.  I was responsible for the tacking, along with Mike whose watch was before mine.  Together we successfully tacked to 120^ without waking any of the other crew, or captain who was finally getting some much needed shut-eye.

I made bagels and creamed cheese for breakfast around nine and the entire crew donned  bathing

suits and suntan lotion on deck for a lovely sail.  Somewhere in the middle of the conversation someone noticed that there was a foot long tear in the UV cover on the genoa that was taking on water.  Knowing this

we put up the staysail and furled in the genny  about 30% to the tear.  We sailed in this fashion for the rest of the day.

The boat was on a full 45% heel all day that made cooking  virtually impossible.  Philip had

made lasagna before we left and we had frozen it.  I put it in the microwave and we had a delicious meal  with a salad of asparagus, black olives, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and red onions on the side.  

I had the 8 - 10 p.m. watch which was fairly normal as the winds  by this time were decreasing to 13 or 14 knots.  I am really enjoying the sail but find myself really tired from all of the interruptions in sleep.  This is certainly a rally that I would suggest to anyone thinking of doing blue water cruising.  It is making me wonder if I have the discipline required to do this with David.  It is  pretty damned uncomfortable.

 

DAY 6  -- SUNDAY,  NOVEMBER 7

 

Daddy died 26 years ago today.  I thought of him as I sat in the cockpit watching the beautiful Caribbean morning.  He wouldn't recognize my  life today -- living with a person who is not my husband, sailing a yacht with five men 1500 miles at my age.  I think somehow he would understand thought, as it was Daddy who gave me my great spirit of adventure and mobility.  Our family lived in  (Augusta, Ave. Richmond, Va., 48th st.NW Washington D.C., Rittenhouse Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.,  Asbury Street, Dallas Texas., Hanover Street, University Park, Dallas., Newburgh Road., Evansville, Indiana., Albert Pick Hotel, Evanston, Illinois,  Pleasant Lane, Glenview, Ill., Washington  Ave., Evansville Indiana  -- 10 houses and 12 schools) by the time I finished college.  Add to that the  residences I had with my spouse and children (Meridian Street, Eagledale, Keesler, Bethesda, Rockville. Iowa City -2-, Ocean Springs 2 , French Quarter, Navarre Beach  - 11 residences, and the places I've lived since I left - St. Croix (2), St. John (2) St. Thomas, Tortola and my boat  (7) and you have a grand total of  28 residences in 53 years.  It is no wonder I can't seem to stay put.

 Sunday was very pleasant.  We sailed at 7 8 knots most of the day with beautiful skies and seas.  Everyone celebrated by taking a shower.  David still hasn't shaved yet, which is driving me crazy as everyone else has -- but what the hell, it's his face.  

I made a great lunch of turkey salad with eggs, relish, onion, mustard and mayo.  Even Tom ate it.  He is on a very special diet that consists of  hard bread, kippers, hard boiled eggs, and raw veggies.

David volunteered to make dinner and was that ever a treat.  We had pork tenderloin smothered in mushrooms, wild rice, asparagus and hot French bread.  We also had a lovely bottle of chilled tardiness with it.  Not a bad way to eat considering we're in a rally.

I had the 3-6 p.m. watch so David made dinner.  Tom sweetly volunteered to take my midnight watch  For the first night I had the opportunity to sleep the entire night.  I slept in the main salon as the boat was on such a heel that I kept falling into David.  We motored most of the night so it was very noisy.  As much as I hate to admit it, I will be glad to get back to my normal routine.  I needed to sail as Antares is on the hard, but this is almost too much.

 

 

 

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