Takeaways And Commentary From The Newport Passage

By Rich

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Here are some of the things we learned and some side note commentary from our Annapolis to Newport passage.

  • We obviously won’t tow a dinghy offshore again, and if we are ever forced to for some reason we’ll be sure to keep the painter short enough that it trails right behind the transom with the bow held up.
  • On future passages the automatic bilge pump will be disabled and the bilge will be visually checked and manually pumped at the start of each watch. Automatic bilge pumps can mask leaks and (more importantly) make audit of leak rates impossible. I plan to adopt this same approach when staying aboard full time even in port.
  • When running downwind with this sail plan we needed 19 or more knots for sails alone (with jib poled-out wing-on-wing) to be faster than  motoring with the mainsail (only). Once the wind consistently topped 19 or so, the sails alone were faster than motor+main.  Less wind was required for sails alone to beat motor + sails on a broad reach.
  • We immediately became comfortable using mobile devices such as smartphones as our primary chart plotters. Because three out of four of us had chart plotting apps on our phones, and we had two iPads with chart plotters, we had five different devices providing chart plotting across three different software packages. That provided terrific redundancy and cross-checks. In addition we had two text only Garmin GPS devices (one installed at the chart table, one hand-held) with which we took periodic manual plots and bearings on paper charts once we were out in open water. In coastal waters we were satisfied with government navigational marks providing cross checks against chart-plotter accuracy.
  • The mobile device AIS programs were very nice to have when navigating congesting shipping lanes, but naturally stopped working when the cell phone signals grew weak. For this boat, we’re happy with mobile device AIS  programs, but we easily see the value of having “true” AIS capabilities for longer-range world cruising. It was a terrific comfort to have heading and speed data for the ships we encountered.
  • The Sabre inspired a ton of confidence in brisk, blue water sailing conditions. For me one telling moment was when I realized we were broad reaching toward Atlantic City in 25 knots of breeze, regularly surfing up to and above 8  knots of boat speed while my watch-mate Paula read in the cockpit and the off-watch slept comfortably. While testing the boat on the Bay last season we remarked that the Sabre inspired confidence in brisk conditions, and that impression was duly borne-out during our Newport passage.

We’re looking forward to our next open-water passage and are once again considering a Cape Cod circumnavigation during our July cruise. Previously we’d though the trip down the east side of Cape Cod might be too long to be fun, but after this passage we’re thinking it will be a pleasure.

5 thoughts on “Takeaways And Commentary From The Newport Passage

  1. I just bought a Sabre 42… I believe it is the last 42 to leave the factory before they made the new model. Your blog has been a huge help to me and I look forward to seeing more.

    The boat I bought has sat neglected for many years so there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m blogging some of it myself and hope it’ll be useful to someone like yours has been to me.

    About your bilge pump issue, have you heard of Celectron? It’s a bilge pump monitor that logs the pumping and shows you a history, and has various alarms. Maybe it’s a good solution? I’m planning on getting one as I don’t like the thought of not having my pumps on automatically. I’d hate to forget it one night while getting a pizza and it happens to be the same moment something bad happens. http://www.celectron.co.uk/bw8kit.html

    1. Delighted to hear the blog is helpful! I had not heard of celectron but will certainly look into it – thanks for the tip. With our boat in Newport we do plan on having some spells (like this week) when we are far away from the boat so it would be a huge comfort to have that kind of logging.

    2. Forgot to mention: congrats on your purchase – we know you will love the boat! Sad to hear it was neglected. I see so many of these terrific boats being left to needlessly degrade. Properly maintained they are easily 50 year + assets and it’s pure laziness that allows them to depreciate faster than that. Please pass on the link to your blog if / when it’s ready. I’d be very happy to cross link the blogs.

      1. Thanks! I love the boat so far and it’s only been 3 weeks of finding and solving issues. It’s a real shame the boat got into this shape, but it’s good for me. She came with a lot of great equipment, not all of it working, but most of it simple fixes. I’ve been working on her for two weeks and have already fixed a host of issues, and upgraded a few things. I can’t wait to get her sailing and see how she does!

        My blog is at SailVellamo.wordpress.com, but it doesn’t have much right now. My goal this evening is to fill out more of it. I’ll link to your blog and a few others I really like too.

        I’m going to be sailing her in the lower Chesapeake this year… it would be fun to meet up if you ever sail down this way.

      2. Sounds great! We are in Newport for the summer but will have her back home in Annapolis in the Fall. That stop might be for the whole winter but it might also be a brief maintenance stop before taking her to Florida for the winter so we can cruise the Bahamas. The latter plan is an aspiration, but we’re seriously considering it.

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