One week at sea

My first 24 hours I had great winds.  The next two days the wind became light and blew out of the north.  Day three I accidentally set something heavy on my backup fire extinguisher and shot white powder all over the boat.  Fun with cleaning.  Day 4 and 5 the wind picked up to 25kts out of the south and I made good use of the wind to make my easting and made 252nm in 48 hours.  Its good to see that with the wind out of the right direction I can really get this little boat moving.  I’m still very careful about how I sail the boat because of all the weight – so in head winds I’m very slow.  I know most modern sailor’s would frown upon adding so much weight to a boat, but for hundreds and hundreds of years stretching back before the days of the Greek’s, sailors have loaded there boats heavy with cargo – boats less sea worthy then my Albin Vega 27.  I’m sure they sailed their boats differently so they could cope with the extra weight.  Day 6  brought the most excitement of the trip thus far.  I noticed a lot of lighting behind me as the sun was setting.  I thought it was just a squally thunder storm and raised extra sail to try to out maneuver  it.  I raced the system for four hours (my favorite type of sailboat racing) thinking I was making progress – but what I didn’t know was that it was no regular thunderstorm – it was a frontal boundary.  At 2 am it finally caught up to me lashing my boat with 50kt winds, sheets of sideways rain and a tremendous amount of lighting.  I hate lightning – I was hit by lightning on my first boat in southern Georgia and I lost all my electrics.  If I were to be hit again it would be a disaster for this trip.  I have so much fuel that a direct hit might blow up the boat.  It lasted about 3 1/2 long hours and when it passed the wind changed direction and mellowed out.

For the most part I’ve just been reading a book on the raise and fall of the Zulu nation and studing spainish.  My Zulu book gave me a good piece of inspiration.  I was thinking about their spears (which they used for many different purposes) and looking at my boat hook and I thought “hey, I could use this to adjust my wind vane with out ever having to leave the cabin.  So I now keep my trusty spear (boat hook) by my side so I can reach out and change the direction of my boat with out ever having to get up (only on a small boat!).

I’ve now made my easting and I’m just waiting for the North winds to give way to westerlies and I’ll be heading North. Come on westerlies!

(Happy B-day Rachel!)

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12 Responses to One week at sea

  1. Jim Levitt says:

    Good start; stay focused. Did you ever read the book- North to the Night: A Year in the Arctic Ice?

  2. Mathias says:

    Hi Matt!
    Good read. Happy I came across this site as Im looking to purchase my first sailboat and it will most likely be a Vega. So I’d like to hear a little more about the boat if possible. Like what kind repairs and modifications where needed for big oceans? You mention caring alot of weight, other than water, fuel and food whats all this extra gear you have aboard? Any cool gadgets? What year was it build? You have a build number? I’ve got tons of questions, maybe you have an email? Also what are you eating anyway? And how do you get online? Got any kind of insurance? … – I could got on!

    All the best wishes from rainy Denmark 😉

  3. Aunt Paula and ALL of us ! says:

    GO westerlies GO !! Lightening be GONE !! Won’t be long — you’ll be rounding Newfoundland ! About now your are due east of Detroit ! Love your “spear” story & invention ! Getting your website out to more & more. Many are cheering you on !! Prayers go up every night. Lots of love from your Mich. family !

  4. Helen says:

    Hey Matt,

    I stumbled across your adventure and wonderful cause the week you left and will follow your progress with much interest. Love the tracking on your site. With your reference to the Zulu’s. I was born and raised in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa and Zulu is my 3rd language …so as you head North … Hamba kahle! “go well”.

    What am I seeking, out on the sea,
    somewhere to go, or someone to be?”
    – “Orion”, Eileen Quinn

    Helen
    Annapolis, MD

  5. Barry Considine says:

    Matt we’re really sorry we didn’t get to see you off, Carol & I had hoped to be there. I loved your boat hook/spear idea. It is little things like that which will make your trip even more rewarding. Fair Winds & Following seas, Barry

  6. The Family in Texas! says:

    Hey Matt,
    We all sat around my house reading your updates. Sounds great. I love that I can keep an eye on where you are.
    The family (Beth and the girls, Susan’s boys, Gramie and Grandpa, Kira and I, and of course your Mom are all over and we are marathon painting my house. I’m gonna put my house on the market. Don’t worry, I’m not moving out of Austin, I’m just tired of owning my money pit.
    We just got back from Eagle Rock where we saw Devon’s run in. She made it through the wilderness experience. Kira fell in love with the school and is hoping to attend in January. We’ll see!
    We love you and look forward to your next blog.
    Love,
    Aunt Amy and All

  7. Carol Mosier says:

    Good Morning, Matt!!

    Just want you to know that all the “Jess-a-Holics” are regularly watching your progress!! We got that name because we started out as faithful fans, following, and encouraging, the young Australian . . . Jessica Watson’s recent, successful, solo, non-stop, and unassisted circumnavigation! Now, while we’re all still her loyal world-wide family . . . we are also friends to each other and share things of interest to the group . . . like your ambitious venture!

    One of our members, Richard in Maryland, was thoughtful enough to let us all know about your amazing undertaking, and we are all “with you”, now, on your voyage!

    Glad to see your blog is current again, so that we can follow more closely!! Wow, that lightning storm must have been scary . . . glad that you and your boat have made it through that nasty bit of weather! Now that we know that a damaging lightning strike could make you one giant fireworks display, we’ll pray that you have no more of those conditions!!! Definitely a frightening situation to have endured!!

    Well, stay strong, and stay safe, Matt . . . we’re all pulling for your courageous endeavor to be successful, and we will be checking in often, and keeping each other up to date on your progress as well!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

  8. Colin Willett and Lee D. Wieland says:

    Both of us are pleased that you appear to like the Albin Vega we donated to C.R.A.B. for you to have for your circumnavigation. Both of us, the now deceased 30-year previous owner, and “Mamie” herself are so pleased that she is at last being sailed with real salt water under her keel.
    But what happened in the last day or so? You headed back south from where you came…almost changed your mind?

  9. Colin Willett and Lee D. Wieland says:

    Ok, back on track Matt…….but only at 0.39 knots!

  10. Colin Willett and Lee D. Wieland says:

    Matt; winds from the south look promising (?) this week at 18 to 28 mph–except for Wednesday–as you get nearer to Newfoundland.
    Winds here at Sandy Point, Annapolis for C.R.A.B’s “Free Sail” today not so promising…..

  11. Colin Willett says:

    Heh; perhaps your speed earlier was 3.9 knots and not the 0.39 knots I commented on!?
    Colin

  12. David Tickemyer says:

    Sounds like a great trip. We find power to be a major item on our boat. Do you have solar panels? With the 24 hour sunshine up there, they would do a lot of good. We see a lot of them on sailboats here in Ketchikan, Alaska. How about the backup wind generator? Rain collector? We use a lot of the Shelf Reliance freeze dried foods for emergencies and some for everyday usage. They are light weight and high quality. The icebergs are a little scary, especially in the fog. Why no radar? Even a small short range one? Limited power? If you lose your GPS, do you have and know how to use a sextant? Fair winds and calm seas. David

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