September 2 – Trans-Atlantic delivery departure!

Sep 17, 2023

September 2, 2023 – 0200 – I type this from the cockpit of Shipyard Brewing (formerly Sparrow), as we are on a deep broad reach across the Gulf of Maine towards the southern tip of Nova Scotia. The moon is full, the seas calm and glistening, and the boat is flat and dry as we make a comfortable departure from Maine. After finishing my 2,000 mile qualifier and arriving to Portland on June 20, I spent more time and money than I originally planned, but such is the nature of the preparations for this race. As much as I had always dreamed of racing solo around the world, I have found that the battle to get to the starting line is much harder, more expensive and honestly more profound and rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

My friend Ed McCoy and I left the dock at Maine Yacht Center at around 1240 in the afternoon on Friday September 1; a little more than a dozen hours ago. Other than the day of the week being a Friday and there being multiple cyclones brewing just over the horizon, it was about as perfect a departure for a Trans-Atlantic delivery to a big race start as one could imagine. The weather was beautiful, the scenery stunning and the atmosphere full of love as Shipyard Brewing slipped her dock lines and was escorted out into the ocean by two boats full of supporters. Fred Forsley, the owner and founder of Sihpyard Brewing – our new title sponsor – had a friend drive a nice power boat and they had it full of most of the Shipyard Brewing marketing team, as well as Italian round the world racer Roger Junet and his partner Hanna, who was working professionally to film video and take photos. On a smaller Boston Whaler was my partner Marisa and her friend Laura driving, and we were shoved off the dock by the awesome staff of Maine Yacht Center and several dock side neighbors. What a special memory yesterday was.

As soon as we got out past the headlands and into the ocean, we immediately fell off onto a starboard tack and tested our new water maker, which had just been installed and couldn’t be tested in port. It was a direct replacement for an older unit that was not functioning properly, and once we verified that it was indeed working, we hoisted the stay sail and took off for Spain. Fred and company followed us out for a ways and eventually disappeared, while Marisa and Laura on the Whaler turned back as soon as we cleared the Heads.

Once into the ocean, we loped along under reefed main and stay sail and then as the breeze went aft, we increased to a full main and a jib. We are now downwind to the southern tip of Nova Scotia in light and moderate winds. This is a Trans-Atlantic delivery to a race start after a lengthy period in the yard, so I am inclined to be quite cautious and conservative. We will probably put up a flying sail in the morning, but for now it’s mellow jib sailing and a comfortable, easy start to a long passage.

In Maine, we took on our two new spinnakers from Elvstrøm Sails, and so we have a brand new fractional kite that we’ve barely sailed with and a new masthead spinnaker that we have not yet sailed with. In addition, the two new Code Zeros; my favorite little fractional one, and then also the masthead Code which I have not used very much yet. So I plan to be conservative, but I also strongly desire to test and train with my new sail inventory; both to learn and get practice with them, to continue developing polars, but also to work out any kinks and decide if any last-minute alterations need to be made in Spain.

Our new Victron battery and charging system from Bruce Schwab at Ocean Planet Energy seems to be working mostly well. We lost solar charging capacity in one of the charge controllers today, but I checked the unit in question tonight and it seemed to have a loose connection on one of the terminals, so I expect to have the solar fully back on line when the sun comes up. The new nke GyroPilot 3 computer seems to be working fine, and I think I have isolated our issues of why it was cutting out randomly, and needing to have the system cycled off and back on. The autopilot has not cut off since we left Portland, though we remain on the alert and I have questions for my nke guy Jerome, to better understand why it cut out on us during a sea-trial two weekends ago., I have the hydrogenerator down right now to put some power into the batteries, but I am definitely looking forward to adding a wind generator and more solar in Spain.

Our weather situation is complex, and we may well be making a weather-induced stop in Nova Scotia. Cyclone Franklin is passing off to the east, and then Idalia is potentially going to come up from the south, and then steal our wind before cutting off our path east. If that happens, it’s fairly likely that we may stop in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia or Halifax, or even potentially somewhere else. As for right now, conditions are mellow and breeze is from behind. I can not get deep enough with a jib right now, so our heading is not optimal. We will probably put up a spinnaker in the morning, and possibly even gybe as the wind goes further aft. Eventually however, the wind should go back more southwest and allow us to broad reach to the mark on starboard tack, maybe with a jib or Code sail. We will make a decision on when / if/ and where we stop in the next day or so, dependent on how the weather models evolve. I am hoping we can go straight to Spain, but only time will tell. Good night from Shipyard Brewing.

(Photo by Hanna Morrill)