Sparrow and I are in Portland, Maine after successfully completing our 2,000 mile qualifier! After rounding Bermuda we had a relatively wet and bumpy ride back to New England. I sailed in fairly close to Newport, Rhode Island (about 45 miles out) and then tacked back out and sailed around the Nantucket Shoals and then did some light air sailing in the Gulf of Maine before the heavier weather approached. As a low-pressure system began to arrive, I was able to take a long starboard tack to the northeast which set me up to ride the stronger Northeasterly winds back down to Portland. All was going relatively smoothly as I knocked out miles towards Portland, until the breeze picked up to 45 knots gusting to 54 knots!!! I had expected to see mayb 25-30 knots and gusting 40, but I certainly did not expect to see 45 knots gusting into the 50s! I ended up dropping the main sail and riding downwind on just the staysail and the square top of the mainsail in the bigger breeze, though I imagine I could have just left up the third reef and driven a few more degrees down.
Sparrow performed well, as did my NKE Gyropilot 2 autopilot named Jean le Cam. It was a bit nerve-wracking being in such strong conditions, but we came through unscathed and had no issues. I arrived into Portland, Maine and docked at Maine Yacht Center at about 3pm last Sunday. Fellow Global Solo Challenge competitor David Linger and the crew from Maine Yacht Center were there to catch my dock lines. The following day, Sparrow’s former owner Whitall Stokes came out, as did my new friend Chris, whom I met at the Annapolis Boat Show. Both of them helped me out throughout the week while we removed sails, tidied up the boat, un-stepped the mast and began jumping into some boat work ahead of our haul-out, which is scheduled for Monday.
Sparrow should haul out on Monday morning, and spend about 18 days out of the water, and we will hopefully have a nice new bottom sprayed on and the grey vinyl wrap applied before we splash. It will be a lot of work to get everything done in time, but we should be able to get there! I also plan to install a new NKE GyroPilot 3 autopilot computer, compass, rudder reference sensor, etc. We will also be having the riggers at Maine Yacht Center go through the rig and we will do as much work to the rig as time and budget allow.
Let the re-fit begin! Only four months until the race starts, every day matters!
Aloha from Maine