Well, That Sucked!

Adrienne's pissed off face.

I’d always wanted to sail a passage across and ocean. Sailing is not about the destination. It’s about the journey getting there, right? My friend, Allen, says “You hope the juice is worth the squeeze.” So, let me tell you about the squeeze we’ve been going through these last two weeks.

After spending the summer in New England, we decided to head to the Caribbean. The question was, how do we get there? Do we sail with the Salty Dog Rally? No, they leave earlier than we can get to Hampton, VA. Do we hire a captain to take the boat for us? No, too expensive. And we’re sailors who have lived on our boat for the past two years. We don’t need to hire a captain.

I guess we’re going to sail Wind Therapy there ourselves.

Let’s break it up. We’ll leave Norfolk, VA and sail 4-5 days to Bermuda with friends as crew. We’ll spend a few days there, change friends/crew, then head to the BVI. That leg should only be 7-8 days. Sounds like a plan.

We lined up crew for both legs and headed to VA. But, alas, the universe had other plans.

Half of our crew for leg one cancelled. Don’t know why. But no worries. It was a 4-day trip that could easily be handled with three of us. Then half of our crew for leg two cancelled for family reasons. Ok, we had two others who were secure. We could handle it.

Then the weather started acting up. We ended up in Hampton, VA with many boats from the Salty Dog Rally. Waiting. Waiting for the weather Gods to allow us to go. The Salty Dog Rally postponed its November 2 departure until further notice, waiting for a weather window that wasn’t “atrocious”, as our weather router called it. No one wants to cross the Gulf Stream with any northerly component in the wind. And for the next week or two, there was a LOT of it. So, we all waited, and waited, and waited some more. We waited so long, in fact, that we lost our only other crew for leg one. He had plans to go to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving. How dare he! Now what?

It’s only four days. Can we do it with just the two of us? We thought so. 

The weather became more and more unpredictable, looking worse and worse every day. Maybe we could go next week? Nope, maybe 10 days. Nope. Maybe two weeks. Who knows?

We called our only remaining crew and asked how they felt about making a straight run from VA to BVI. It should be 10 days. No time to stop in Bermuda anymore. The weather simply wouldn’t allow it. Bermuda would have to wait for another summer or two. But our new weather window was either Saturday or Sunday, just a few days from now. Isn’t that always the way? You wait and wait and wait for something, and then it needs to happen RIGHT NOW!

Thankfully, Allen and Nola agreed and bought plane tickets to arrive Saturday.

Now it’s Thursday. Wait! What? The weather window has to be Saturday. Sunday is a NO-GO! When the hell did that happen? Just yesterday you said we could go Saturday OR Sunday. When did Sunday become a NO-GO? The answer? Just now. Sunday became a NO-GO just now.

“Hi guys, what’s the likelihood that you can change your flights and get here tomorrow?”

“We’ll do our best.”

But the best they could do was to drive 18 hours and arrive around noon. That wasn’t fair to them. Saturday morning came, and the marina cleared out by 10am. One by one, Salty Dog Ralliers motored past us, waiving farewell. Allen and Nola arrived Saturday late afternoon, and we worked like crazy getting the boat ready to leave.

Sunday morning, our weather router said, “you can go, but the Gulf Stream won’t be fun. Doable, but definitely not fun.”

What exactly is “doable”? And isn’t “fun” subjective? Let’s give it a try.

We left the marina around 3:00, fueled up, and we were off. These waves were much bigger than we expected. This wind was much stronger than we expected. We sailed south through the night and decided the next morning that the Gulf Stream was going to be horrific. We rounded Cape Hatteras, hung a right, and pulled into Morehead City at 1:45 Tuesday morning. Ah, sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.

Morehead City is small, cute, and the people are nice. We spent the afternoon having lunch, visiting the local chandlery, and stocking up at the local yarn store. Wednesday morning, we were off, again.

Let me just say one thing. I have learned that I am not a passage girl. Apparently, I get stressed out. I get seasick. They say seasickness subsides after about three days. Maybe I could just sleep for three days. When I wake up, I’ll be fine. But there wouldn’t be any sleep. The wind was howling and the waves were building. And when the waves bang against the hull or slap the underside of the bridge deck, it’s loud. Then, night falls. You can’t see the waves coming at you. The boat lurches up and down, side to side. Everything is louder and scarier in the dark. There’s no visible moon. I’m sick to my stomach. This sucks.

On the third day, things quieted a bit. I was worn out. But the sun was shining and the waves were manageable. A pod of dolphin came to play. Moms, babies, it was beautiful. We noticed a flying fish laying on the deck. Clearly not his intention in life, but so be it. We put him on the hook, tossed out the line, and caught dinner for the night. Not a bad day after all. We can do this!

That was our last good day. The waves have been crazy, preventing rest and relaxation. Last night we had to reef the main and the jib to slow the boat down in an effort to achieve some level of comfort.

Everybody is exhausted. But Allen and Nola are fantastic. They agree this isn’t something they want to do again either, but we’re all glad we’re here together.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022. A week since we left. Today the winds are down and the waves are further apart. They’re still about 8-10’ high with an occasional 12-footer. But they are much more manageable. I don’t mind the 12′ waves 12 seconds apart. It’s the three 5-footers that bang us around between them that piss me off.

We’ve just turned on the port engine because we’ve all pretty much had enough. We have about 70 gallons of fuel left, enough to get us there, if we need it. Looks like a noon, or so, arrival on Friday.

We ate our Thanksgiving dinner together. Mother Nature seemed to know that we just needed about 30 minutes to eat like human being and truly feel that we had more things to be thankful for at this moment than just being alive in a good boat that’s still floating. Yes, we were very thankful for that. Wind Therapy is definitely a good boat, and she can handle a lot more than I can.

I went to bed after my watch and prayed for sleep. It came off and on. Thirty minutes here, forty minutes there. I can see daylight behind the curtains. Thank God the night is over. It’s Friday, and today should be our last day!

And then it happened. I was laying in bed trying to decide whether or not I felt good. It was 9:00am. And I heard it. Allen yelled, “Land Ho!!!”

What? Did I just hear someone yell “Land Ho”?

I jumped out of bed, threw on whatever clothes I found fast, and ran upstairs. I had to see this for myself.

There it was. The British Virgin Islands. I could see them with my own eyes. I didn’t need binoculars. I could see them in the distance. The very place we’d spent all of our vacations for the last six years was just a few hours away. It felt like coming home.

All of a sudden, I felt great! I wasn’t sick. My stomach wasn’t queasy. My head wasn’t foggy and it didn’t hurt. I was full of energy! Just another six hours or so and we’d be there!!!

The day moved on. We got closer and closer. We pulled up to the fuel dock in Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke around 3:00. I fueled up while Jeff went to customs to check us in. Allen and Nola took out the trash and stopped in the little quick shop. I never got off the boat. I didn’t feel the need to. I was here. There was very little wind and almost no wave action. I was so so so happy

It’s good to be home.

And, no, I never want to make that trip again.

2 thoughts on “Well, That Sucked!

  1. Hi guys,
    You pulled into Christmas Cove yesterday and anchored for a little in front of us so I looked at a couple of your videos and SUBSCRIBED ….
    Tough passage this year for sure coming south but it sounds like you survived OK and the bad times are quickly forgotten.
    We bought our boat in 2020 as well in Turkey, we are around USVI and BVI until end of April and maybe we catch up for a sundowner.
    We don’t do as good a job on the web site as you but you can check it out here.

    • Hello! I’m sorry it took so long for me to reply. I’ve been neglecting our website, and just saw your message today. We’re actually in St. Martin right now until the end of February when we will begin moving south. Safe sailing and thanks for contacting us. And congratulations on your new boat!

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