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.