November 22, 2014
As the cold blew into Charleston Harbor, Om Sailing Charters LLC closed for the season and sailed out of the habor for warmer waters.
Thursday November 13th, Om and her crew set sail from Charleston at 11 PM riding out the leading edge of the cold front that brought its first freezing temps to the area. Everyday though the weather improved as well as the temperatures. Dolphins played off our bows for almost an hour Friday morning racing across the ocean to greet us and show the way. Such an incredible greeting from nature as I saw them jumping high in the air to view us from a mile away. It was a game that humans are excluded from as the pod of over 30 dolphins raced to us. Once there they were so playful along the bow, racing Om to an unforeseen finish line, which of course they were not going to let us win. Their attention span lasted longer than ours, as my crew had to get some shut eye after being on watch for the early morning shift and I settled back in at the radar and captains chair to view them from there.
The days wore on and the wind continued to push or should I say pull us along. We started out with a really nice and cold NW wind which was coming off our starboard stern quarter. Meaning that it was basically pushing us in the right direction. Soon though the brisk wind died down enough that the engines came on for the next 12 hours or so motor-sailing to keep our speeds up. Once in the other side of the gulf stream the winds clocked around to the NE, allowing us to again sail without the motors. During the evening of Friday into Saturday morning the winds really picked up towards 25 knots which prompted me to pull in a double reef on the main and a partial one in the Jib. Made for an incredibly fast passage, but as for sleep? Well that was a bit hard to come by.
Saturday afternoon and towards evening the winds shifted more to the east and slowly decreased in strength. Made for some smoother seas, and some much needed rest. Om is a really wonderful sailor, seeing 7 plus knots in just 12 knots of breeze. She is a real sea bird, fun to be on in rough or smooth seas. The engines came back on as the wind continues to shift more on our nose and dying off in strength. The weather prediction was for it to come completely onto our nose which kept my eye on the clock. Motor sailing with just one motor allowed for us to get our ETA in well before the full wind shift. Alternating the engines, we would sleep on opposite side of the boat to reduce the noise level and vibration. After the previous evening of large wind driven chop it was nice to sleep with only four foot ocean swell gently pushing us along our course.
There is something magical that happens when there is mechanical silence on the ocean. You hear the sails, and rigging noises, a clank here or a groan there. Water is rushing along the hulls, waves sliding under the hull, picking her up and settling back down in the next trough. No music is needed, no internet, or Facebook to distract you. The sea sees you for who you really are. There is no hiding from her. Mother ocean will test you and bring out every fault that you carry. She sees you completely. Magic can happen here, or it may show you something you don’t want to see. The question of course are you ready for that?
Each hour the temperatures improve and the coconut oil is slowing going from a solid mass to one that is liquid. Once upon a time it was said “sail south till the butter melts”. In today’s world, or at-least mine, coconut oil is my test. It goes from solid to liquid at 76*. Each hour the numbers of the GPS continue to click off the miles, clothes are discarded one piece at a time and the long johns are put away hopefully for the winter.
As the sun rose on Sunday morning, the Cays of Abaco start as grey spots on the ocean. The seas having calmed down which allowed for a restful sleep allowing me to alert and wide awake for this moment. 2 hours naps can only get you so far, at some point you just have to crash out. My crew Bethany was able to give me 5.5 hours of much needed rest so that at landfall I would be wide awake. For that rest and the sunrise over the Bahamas, I am truly grateful.
Whale Cay continued to grow larger off our bow, and the ocean floor rose up to meet our approach to land. I turned off the motors, sailing the last few miles through the cut and entered the shallow clear green waters of the Banks. It really does not get any better than that. The sun glowing red rising through the clouds and clear water of the islands under your keel. Over 400 nautical miles were carried under the hulls of Om and it was a beautiful experience. Anchoring off New Plymouth ended our crossing of 56.5 hours. 27 hours under sail alone. Averaging 7 knots it was a relatively smooth and quick crossing. Om really is a delight to sail upon.
They say timing is everything, and it did not fail us that day. After anchoring, having breakfast and jumping in the water a couple of friends pulled into the harbor. Scallop and Spirit, sailing friends from many years ago sailed into Green Turtle Cay. So awesome to see them after several years. There really are no Good Byes in boating, its always “see ya later”.
Stay tuned, more to come and enjoy the video. It was a lot of fun to make…