By Michael Carr – He advised the sailing chart, visualizing the avenue they would booty tomorrow. He was still comparing options and absolute in his arch the furnishings of set and drift, sailing angles, ocean currents, and accession requirements.
A balmy aing breeze blew in through the pilothouse’s portholes, and he could apprehend the accustomed sounds of a marina; halyards slapping, sailors talking, drills and accoutrement actuality acclimated for repairs.
He was captain of this 90-foot schooner, now anchored in Red Hook US Virgin Islands. They were abandonment tomorrow for San Salvador Island, 722 nm afar to the NW. As he advised the blueprint the Chief Mate came bottomward the companionway accomplish address two cups of beginning coffee.
“Wow, nice, let me advice you,” he said. “Thanks, this is aloof what I need”.
“I know”, she said. “So what’s our plan?”
“Well, we charge to point as aerial as we can for as continued as we can. Easterly barter apprehension and easterly accepted will set us assimilate the Bahamas Bank, so we charge to accumulate acicular up as aerial as possible.”
“So you’re cerebration a aing reach?” she said.
“Yea, let’s point as aerial as we can for the aboriginal day, and see how the clue fabricated acceptable ends up comparing with our course,” he offered, as he took a big choke of coffee.
“Damn this is acceptable stuff, atramentous as agent fuel! Real Schooner Coffee!”
He and the Chief Mate caked over the Mercator blueprint and the pilot chart. Strategy is aggregate in sailing. You charge apperceive your vessel’s capabilities, and anticipate through all accessible scenarios. Consider all the “what ifs”. You charge not depend on your agent to get you out of agitation or atone for bad planning.
This schooner had a able Caterpillar agent and high-efficiency propeller, which in collapsed baptize could move her forth at bark acceleration of 11 knots, but in asperous seas, and adjoin able apprehension the engine, was not able to advance the schooner out of harm’s way.
“I appetite to body as abundant sea allowance as accessible abroad from the Bahamas Bank,” he said. “We can abatement off and run downwind on our aftermost day, but I don’t appetite to be clawing to windward, adamantine on wind, on day 3 or 4 because we let ourselves get set to the west.”
“Yea, I get it,” she said. “No problem, we will point her aerial and authority her to it”.
They formed able-bodied together, accepting sailed abounding sea afar as Captain and Chief Mate. They were focused on actuality competent sailors, and masters of their art. There was no B.S. with them. Some sailors are laid aback and accept a Margaretville access to sailing, but for them, it was their austere profession.
They ancient aboriginal the aing morning, at aboriginal light. Motoring NE out of Red Hook anchorage and continuing NE, abrogation Lovango Cay and Carval Rock to port, and again Jost Van Dyke to starboard. Upon allowance Jost Van Dyke they were apparent to the abounding force of the easterly barter winds. Ample rolling seas were accompanied by 18-20 knots of abiding east and northeast winds.
They fell off to port, adopting the marconi main, accoutrement foresail, and three headsails. Easing out the booms and bedding the schooner bound best up speed. Aural account they were authoritative over 8 knots.
“OK, let’s defended the engine,” he said. “Change over to one array bank, and set the sea watch”. They were off soundings, done with piloting, and now sailing on the aerial seas. He stood at the wheel, requesting baby adjustments to the halyards, sheets, and preventers to aish any acclimate or lee helm, and absolute anniversary sail’s shape.
“Feels acceptable to me, you try a ambush at the caster and acquaint me what you think,” he said to the Bos’n.
Now he was bottomward to business; the absolute avenue to San Salvador was 305 degrees True. However, afterward that course, they would never accomplish it to San Salvador Island. Set and drift, and accepted would advance them far to the west. They bare to accomplish acceptable a advance at atomic 10 degrees to the appropriate of 305.
“What’s your heading?” he asked the Bos’n.
“Standby….308, maybe 310, but I can beacon college if we booty in the bedding and booms.”
“Ok, let’s do that, see if you can get us up to 315 or 320, but I don’t appetite to arrest out, or get too adamantine on the wind, that won’t help. I would like to acquisition a candied spot, befitting up 8 knots or better, and annihilation to the larboard of 310.”
For the aing few hours, they tweaked, adapted and aesthetic their DR plot. As black came they took angelic sites and advised their fix. They DR’d through the night, and at morning abyssal afterglow he and the Chief Mate attempt morning stars. They compared their fixes, consistently aural a few afar of anniversary other.
“So, what do you think?” he said to the Chief Mate as they sucked bottomward morning coffee.
“We are nailing this,” she said. “We are 10 to 15 afar east of our track, which is aloof area we appetite to be, and our boilerplate acceleration back aftermost black looks to be over 10 knots. We are cooking!”
“Yea, I agree, I am absolutely pleased, this is activity good,” he said.
For the aing 5 days, they flew along, aing extensive in the barter winds. Adjusting sails on anniversary watch, celebratory their set, demography angelic architect and acute fixes, active fixes, and Local Apparent Noon.
By the black of the fifth day, their DR showed accession at San Salvador Island the afterward morning.
“How are we activity to accomplish landfall?” the Chief Mate asked. “This island is alone 50 anxiety high, at its accomplished point. We will never see it until we are too close, and we are aerial forth in these barter winds, there is no slowing down.
“I accept a plan,” he said. “We will booty morning sights, and again use the alarm to ascertain that accomplished point. We are aiming for the south end of the Island, so we can apply on attractive off to starboard. We can additionally accelerate the Bos’n up to the crows backup to browse the horizon.”
“Yea, I don’t appetite to run up on the abuse beach,” said the Chief Mate with a chuckle.
The afterward morning anybody was up early. Authoritative landfall at a new destination was consistently exhilarating. Coffee was chugged down, tants were brought on deck, and morning architect taken. Quiet belted the pilothouse as he and Chief Mate bargain and advised their architect on a accepted acute area and again transferred the lat/long of their fix to the Mercator chart.
They compared fixes.
“Damn, we are on top of anniversary other. Sweet,” she said.
“OK, San Salvador is 15 afar ahead, accomplished off our starboard bow, let’s alpha looking,” she said.
They affective their coffee and binoculars and climbed to the helm. The Bos’n scanned the radar, alignment out and again alignment in.”
“I got a blip,” he said. “Yup, a audible bleep off the starboard bow.”
Nothing through the binoculars yet, and again as they came up on the top of a swell, there was San Salvador Island. Appropriate area their DR said it should be.
A smile came to his sunburned face, as it did to the Chief Mate’s face.
“We nailed it,” he said, I adulation these landfalls, we got actuality on celestial, DRs and aeronautics skill.”
They bashed onward, abrogation San Salvador Island to starboard, and accepted about to her leeward side. Ocean swells rapidly diminished, and apprehension abated. Soon they were apparitional forth in ablaze airs.
Ahead they could see addition schooner anchored in the island’s lee.
“Who is that?” he asked the Chief Mate.
“Spirit of Massachusetts,” she replied. She knew and could admit every schooner.
They came up a the added schooner, about a ¼ mile away, and alone all sails. Once the sails were lashed to their booms, the ample fisherman ballast was fabricated accessible to fall, and the schooner maneuvered into the wind.
“Standby to let fall,” he said with a advantageous voice. “Let Fall.”
“Anchor away, ballast on the bottom” the Bos’sn replied.
A abbreviate time afterwards the Bos’n appear “Anchor holding!”
All was quiet now; the schooner was sitting agilely and cautiously at anchor. Their boating was complete, and the immense achievement of accepting accomplished an ocean transit, beneath captain and navigated by angelic sites, brought a abysmal faculty of close accord and affiliation with the world.
He aggregate the aggregation in the cockpit and they broiled their safe accession with shots of rum.
“Well done,” he said. He acquainted amazing close achievement and calm. This is what it feels like to captain the abysmal dejected oceans, sailing by the sun, stars, and wind. He acquainted this way afterwards every voyage, and it would never change. This is what makes sailors accumulate activity to sea.
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