Thursday, 20 November 2008

Handy, Hardy Minnesotan Winter Training

Our overnight sail down the Chesapeake Bay provided us an excellent opportunity to re-live our four years of winter weather training in Minnesota. Winter survival lessons learned sure came in handy. We may have set a layering record with Robert achieving a 4 and Trish achieving a 5! Daisie decided not to layer-up, preferring to curl up on a settee in the warmth of the cabin. Comfortable, lucky dog!

In freezing temperatures (the 20’s) we’re sailing out of the Magothy River in Maryland, south under the Chesapeake Bay Bridges and on to Norfolk, Virginia. It will be 24 hours before we drop anchor at the Mile 0 mark on the Intracoastal Waterway, (ICW). We need to get south before it gets to the point where staying would mean winterizing the boat and waiting a year to make the trip. Bristol Rose and crew are leaving behind snow flurries and frosted docks for Florida, and come New Year 2009, the islands of the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Although we’ve sailed at night, this is our first overnight sail. We have a weather window that should allow us to get to Norfolk before high winds and snow is expected in the area. We’ve taken Dave’s advice (Starshine), and timed our departure to arrive in Norfolk during daylight.

We’re making good speed, up to 8 knots. Sails are set on a beam reach to close haul. It’s dark now, bitterly cold and cloudy but the sailing is good and steady with both of us managing to get in a few hours of sleep in turn. Close to the shipping channel in the Bay, there’s plenty to keep our attention focused and no chance of falling asleep at the helm, even with BR’s autopilot doing the steering. A glance back over the transom and, oh s#@t! Is that a container ship bearing down on us? Get the engine started, quick! better to move a little further away from the channel.

In the heat of summer you don’t have much appreciation for heating aboard a sail boat. You know it’s cold when ice falls out of the flaked sails onto the deck. We are now benefitting from outfitting decisions made during the building. Walt Shultz in Rhode Island got it right adding Espar diesel heating to his Shannon boats. BR is very comfortable below decks right now.

We’ve been very busy with last minute preparations while at Ferry Point Marina. The owner, Al, John who manages the yard, and everyone at FPM have been very helpful to us.

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