On Friday, just two days before the summer solstice, we packed up and headed out to the boat. Upon arrival, we cranked up the A/C on the boat (it was near 100 degrees F when we arrived outside), and immediately left for the grocery store to get provisions. By the time we were back, the boat was at more comfortable temperatures. We then checked over the boat, and weather forecasts, in preparation for a passage the next day. We wanted to sail to Cape Lookout – about a 70 nm trip in the morning.
On Saturday we got up at dawn and got the boat ready. At about 7:15 we asked the fuel dockhand to take some pictures and lend a hand as we moved the boat to the fuel dock. We wanted ample fuel to be able to run the generator for at least the next couple of days due to higher than normal early summer temperatures. We headed out towards Carolina Beach Inlet, but saw the dredger was occupying the narrow channel. So, we continued up the ICW to Masonboro Inlet (later I heard another boat ask the dredger to simply move out of the way – I didn’t know you could do that – duh!). No biggie, it was in the right direction.
Once out the inlet we began prepping the spinnaker to be raised. The winds were almost dead aft and were forecasted to be building gradually during the day. We got the sail up in the light winds, but they turned out to be too light to keep the sail full. So, we re-chuted the spinnaker, but left it up and tied to a forward cleat. Meanwhile, we were really hot after deploying the spinnaker and started the generator and A/C. Ahh…the convenience of a luxury yacht!
After lunch, the winds were back up a bit. However, we needed to shift the spinnaker to the port side due to a slight shift in the winds. But, a few minutes later we had it flying again and were making good speed (about 6 knots). During the day, I took some cool shots with the new camera and a wide-angle lens (10mm Sigma). With this lens you can see the entire spinnaker in one shot. Check out the slideshow below. Later I’ll upload some HD video I took with the same setup.
As the day continued the winds did indeed grow slowly and were were making 8-9 knots by the time we approached Cape Lookout late in the day. The true wind was about 18 knots at this point. We decided to have dinner before arriving and Karen cooked up a fine meal.
I had carefully planned how we would lower the spinnaker well before the Cape. Tahina’s spinnaker is very large. We turned the boat and released the sheet, and it collapsed like it is supposed to. However, when I went to pull down the chute, it came down a short way and then wouldn’t move further! Even with all my weight (I was not touching the boat), it wouldn’t come down. So, I tried winching it down with the mast winch. Meanwhile, the sail is fluttering in the strong winds (although slightly less than full speed because I had the motors on). I did manage to get the chute down about half way, but it must have been twisted in the deployment line. Then pandemonium occurred. The line at the winch got jammed and the spinnaker wrapped itself around the jib (which was furled). I tried lowering the sail, but too much was capturing the wind and it started to go into the water. We tried changing the wind angle, but at one point the force was too much and the chute base (a fiberglass “O” shaped tube that allows the sail to scoop into the chute) shattered with the forces against the jib. Ugh! So, now there was no hope of chuting the sail further. Karen tried to collapse the bottom part further and I tried to help and/or tried lowering the sail. We were getting tossed about like rag dolls and managed to get a few bruises and rope welts! Meanwhile I was guiding the boat along the Cape beach to avoid getting too close to shore. Eventually we got the wind angle right and managed to collapse the bottom far enough and lowered a bit so that the sail was over the trampolines. I immediately started lowering (while holding on to parts of the sail with hands and feet), and we got it lowered on the tramp! At this point we were hot and exhausted!
We decided to go ahead and enter the anchorage before putting away the spinnaker. We motored in as the sun was setting and were soon anchored in this idealic anchorage surrounded by beaches. As the sun set, we cleaned up the boat and stowed away our spinnaker. I was really bummed we had somehow failed with the spinnaker. At that point I was stil trying to figure out what happened. But, eventually decided it had to be the sail had twisted around the chute deployment line. Possibly when we left it up. Our other spinnaker had a special shackle at the top that was a swivel which prevented twisting. I know what I’ll be buying soon for this one!
We had some drinks in the cool breeze outside as the twilight receded and the beautiful stars came out. A few minutes later we decided to go ahead and wash the dishes from dinner before we retired for the evening. The temperatures had cooled off enough that we opened our hatches and had a pleasant night’s sleep.
The next day I did some reading as I watched some of the weekender boats weigh anchor and depart, and watched some new boats arrive with people to enjoy the beach. After lunch, I spent a couple hours cleaning the hulls of some slime which had accumulated over the last few months. It wasn’t bad though, and hardly any barnacles (thanks to antifouling paint).
We decided to leave ourselves mid-afternoon and head to Beaufort town for the night. I needed to do some blogging and since we don’t have satellite Internet yet, I needed to grab some WIFI. We had a nice dinner ashore and the temperature really dropped nicely during the evening. This is the life!
Here are some photos as promised showing Tahina as it approached the fuel dock, lots of spinnaker shots and shots of Tahina with the wide angle lens, and photos of Cape Lookout and activities there. Unfortunately, we were too wiped out with the spinnaker fiasco to take pictures. But, the photos are definitely worth a look:
Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this trip, also check out the HD video.