Maine to Newport: Volpaia on the water again!

Published: June 26th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

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David, Cyrus & BruceDavid, Cyrus & BruceDavid, Cyrus & Bruce

Before turning around ... our first attempt South
Attempt #1 to sail to Newport, Rhode Island: Predicted 15 knot winds are gusting above 40 knots instead... seas whip up and our trusty crew (including myself) are FREEZING! My brother-in-law, David, finds himself experiencing an uncomfortable time at sea... in full fowl weather gear, hats, gloves, boots and harnesses, we initiate him into the wild world of full weather in your face sort of sailing. Our other crew are Bruce (who sailed with us last year for several months and knows the boat well), Kelly (married to Cyrus' cousin Chris and has been sailing her whole life) and her father, Rich (Kelly's dad, who has a boat in Maine and also has years of sailing experience). David represents the South and amazes us with stories of bass fishing and duck hunting. Kelly is quiet and sweet and even if she felt bad (none of us felt great) she was on deck with a serene smile upon her face. Rich can't get enough of the helm, as he usually would turn around in weather like this so he was enjoying the sail. Bruce is charging forward as he always does and Cyrus and I know it is a short trip and we are hard pressed to get South where we have more "issues" that need to be fixed in Newport, plus we have already been delayed and our insurance will only cover us until mid June if we are in the hurricane area. We have to get all the way from the North East USA to Panama before this time. We have to go!!!

Seas build. Wind builds. The blue ocean turns white as we plunge through waves and dodge lobster pots. Maine doesn't seem to want us to go. The lobster pots and tag lines seem to peak up on crest of waves... like tiny hands wanting to grab us and hold us to Maine. The wind and waves want us to turn back... .but no! We will prevail! Then I hear my name called frantically from below "Brooke! We need you down here!".. Uh oh.

I don't like being "needed" in this kind of weather. I like to be needed at water parks, card games and pot lucks. That's it. Not during a cold-rough-weather sails off the coast of Maine.

Water is pouring into the galley below as Cyrus and Bruce frantically are moving things out of the way and pulling head liners down (the panels that cover the ceiling.. held on by velcro of all things). Wow. I have never seen so much water coming in before. ever. Not a drip.. but buckets of water splash through the ceiling around the hatch in the galley. And this is nothing compared to what they had seen before I made it down here. We move a few items and being my helpful self... I see that they are to the stage of investigating and all of the towels they would need are on the other side of them... not near me. So I do what anyone would do when they see large quantities of cold salt water dumping below while sailing offshore in high winds and large seas. I pull out my video camera.

After I get past the disgusted looks, I get a few good shots of what water was still coming in. I later explained to them that I could see we were not going to sink (just yet anyway), I knew that the items they needed were closer to them than me. I could not fit in the galley with two large men anyway. They were trying to figure out where it was coming from... I couldn't do any better from standing outside the galley. People were on deck handling the helm, as we needed to figure out what was going on before we made plans. So filming seemed like the natural progression of things at the time. I am confident that THEY did not see this at the time, but later found it entertaining.

Needless to say, we have to turn around and have another 6 hours to get back into Camden before complete dark. We arrive with only a bit of light to see, and it ws good that we have been there all season and know the harbor well.

Later that evening, David explains with all seriousness that he is soooo tired that this trip reminded him of duck hunting. After a very through recount of his past duck hunting trips.. we realize that yes... cold, rough water sailing off the coast of Maine is a lot like Arkansas duck hunting. Who knew. It is always nice getting a new perspective on things.

Long story short... a painter plugged a through-hull (place where we have a valve and hole through the hull to bring in or out water) with a wad of painters tape. Forgot to remove it (oops #1), someone fiberglassed over it (oops #2) then they applied all of the layers of bottom paint over this (oops # 3,4 & 5). Somehow it didn't dawn on us that after the hull was painted, that we should go around to be sure all of our original through-hulls in the hull should still be there. (apparently oops #6, but who would know!)... test sails were fine, because we wouldn't know there was an issue until we took a lot of water over the deck, and it wasn't able to flush out through this area.. because there was NO THROUGH-HULL there anymore! Thus water must go somewhere... it was hungry. It headed to the galley.

How we figured it all out: Next morning, we only know that we might have an issue with our through-hull. Maybe. So we send a diver to see if there is a blockage and after a confusing hour of him not being able to find anything and us thinking he was crazy because he kept checking the wrong one... Cyrus takes apart the inside of it and pushes a metal rod down through the hull. The poor diver saw a metal rod punch through what would look like the solid hull to him. Oh my. So he cuts out the hole, finds the wad of tape and we are good to go again. Then we see the whole story unfold before us. Crazy! It it amazing to see what can happen with what seems like one little oversight... then a couple of mistakes... they compound and we were lucky it all happened in the galley.

Attempt #2 with Maine sailor Rich, Southern Bass Fisherman & sailing enthusiast David, Pro sailor Bruce, Maggie (our project managers grown daughter who has always wanted to do a delivery) and ourselves. . Now we head out into a very different ocean. Glassy and calm with no wind to sail. We motor past Curtis light and along the beautiful rocky shoreline that makes Maine, well,,,,Maine. Outside of Boston, we enjoy a show of humpbacks feeding at sunrise. We get a bit of wind I hear, but I was resting and slept through it. As far as I am concerned, we didn't have much wind to the Cape where we went through the Cape Cod Canal on a clear sunny day while enjoying a fern fiddle head/shrimp stir-fry I was proud of (thus featured in the blog), and we then headed out into Buzzards bay with great sailing wind, though as we needed to turn into Newport Sound, it wasn't at a good angle and we found ourselves motoring again. But with an early eve arrival, we have time to step onshore and celebrate our first leg South in a year! It feels good to be moving, though we still have many problems to solve and the clock is ticking.... TICK TOCK! storms are forming soon TICK TOCK! weather is changing TIC! Insurance will be voided! TOCK! Must get to Panama!

The stress of the unfinished projects is getting to us. We make ourselves take a late afternoon off work as our crew is departing and we are feeling exhausted.. parts are being treated and anodized and fabricated as we speak... so we can go. How to deal with stress? Well, a 3:30pm segway tour of course. The idea of us racing segways in big helmets was enough to make us smile even before we saddled up. I have always laughed at the herds of segways I would see in Washington DC zipping in groups behind their trusty guide. Their helmets screaming "I'm a dork!" always seems to announce their arrival. What a great great piece of engineering in such a silly looking package... but what fun! At the point we were racing like chariots across a field.... it was worth every penny. And for an afternoon... we forgot about the pressure to depart and the worklist that doesn't seem to go away. For a moment we were no longer running a yacht, planning routes, dealing with repairs and getting crew to help us South. For a moment... we were just dorks on segways.

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