Triangle Route (Smaller than Imagined)

The Route

Day One:

I motored up to Back River and wound my way up the channel. I found my way to the anchorage, tucked behind several lines of crab posts. (Approximate location) Sunday evening it was as quiet as you can imagine. There was no wind and I could hear sounds in the boat I haven’t heard in a long time. (Hampton City Piers are nice in sheltered, and tucked right under a heavily traveled bridge. It is never really quiet here though I haven’t heard the early morning military drills I heard last year.) The Super Moon was dramatic on the mirror still waters. (I will post the images soon.)

Day Two:

Overcast morning, revile over loudspeakers from Langley AFB (loud, but not painfully so). I took my time getting going as it was raining off and on and no wind. Various fighter and training jets took to the air, vanishing quickly into the low clouds, thunder without lightening. Eventually I hauled the anchor up and wandered back down the channel under power.

Once I was in open water (i.e. no stick in the bottom channel marks to run into) I cut back to idle, and there was enough wind to use the Cape Horn wind vane to hold course while I put the sail up. I have been working to make this easier and for the first time I was able to haul the sail 2/3’s of the way up the mast by hand and quickly winch it the rest of the way. I am very encouraged by this. The long running difficulties in raising the main have been a drag on an otherwise practical little boat.

The wind was more from the north than forecast so I started off on a starboard tack running up the bay with the tide. After half an hour or so it became clear that I wasn’t making any easterly on this heading to I tacked and headed South East into a rising wind and chop. After an hour, facing rising wind and waves I put a reef in. It took me less than a minute put to put the reef in, another pleasant experience.

By early afternoon the chop had come up enough that I couldn’t keep up a reasonable boat speed and it became clear that I wasn’t going to reach the Concrete Ships before dark. I had been told that there were a lot of crab pots on the approach to the anchorage so I avoid going into strange anchorages after dark. I find that most watermen are very considerate about where they put their pots. In some areas the lines of pots help define the edge of the channel. However, there are a few who push the envelop.

After much internal dialog I took down the jib and turned down wind. I had been a long day already and I had forgotten to make myself lunch. (Not a smart move.) Thus I was inclined to take it easy. The Coast Guard didn’t put up the small craft warnings until this evening, and now I understand why they put them up so early here. Three foot chop on a 5 second period really shakes you about. Add in the wakes from large ships and a submarine and I had things that have never come adrift on the floor of the cabin. Two hours of this and I was back in Hampton, playing troll up under the bridge. A hot shower was just the thing.

Also, dropping the main when I went to power was a thing of beauty, with a gentle pull from the new downhaul it just slid right down into the lazy jacks with no fuss and muss despite the one slide that had come adrift.

Learned

Don’t sleep in and then forget to make lunch. You will run out of energy when you need it the most.

Make sure the main sail sliders are all the same way up, with the bolt coming down from the top. Further, inspect before departing to make sure that the nuts are still in place. A worn self locking nut had worked loose, and the bolt was on the down side so on a late afternoon tack I heard the tinkle of a bolt hitting the deck and bouncing over the side.

The Cape Horn is a wonderful device and… First, if there is any question of which vane to put on, put the high wind vane on. It is much easier to go from the aluminum vane to the much bigger kite like vane because the wind is too light than the reverse. Second, the no moving parts jam cleats I selected don’t work well in this application. I have already replaced them with a pair of harken jam cleats and am looking forward to a real world test. Third, don’t get lazy and leave the hydro vane down when docking (backing into slip). The motor quit as I throttled back to shift. Fortunately I was at a very low speed and I just tapped the dock, and tested the breakaway joint on the hydro vane. It worked as designed, though it did freak out the nice gentleman handling my lines on the dock.

In Conclusion

It was a good and useful run at the Triangle route, even if I didn’t get to do a full test of the Polars (the indications are that they are optimistic – no surprise there) and the routing software (which is very dependent to on the polars and is still useful for planning until I get the polars straightened out which will require a lot more data gathering.

I have spent two days fixing the critical little things including the mainsail track slides, the jam cleats, and various cargo tie down issues. Still remaining is some way to restart the engine from the cockpit (the engine control panel is in the cabin amidships, protected from the weather but not very handy)

Also I am very happy I turned back early. The only boat not running for cover was the outbound submarine. I am glad I wasn’t driving the escort boats, they were getting very bounced around.