And….we’re off! Annapolis to Fort Lauderdale was the first significant passage for Team Rover since bringing her home from Charleston. We left Saturday, November 23rd dressed in full ski gear hiding inside the enclosure while listening to college football on satellite radio. Light head winds meant motoring all day and night. Around dusk the rain started and it poured through much of the night. We could not have been happier to have the full enclosure; in fact, we never ran the heat for the entire passage, which meant we only needed to run the generator once to charge batteries.
As expected the big excitement for the trip came around dawn on Sunday when big, nasty breezes filled in from the northwest, right on our beam. The breeze was steady in the low 20s with gusts way into the 30s. For most of Sunday we blast reached at hull speed under full main and staysail alone with surfs to 10s and 11s.
By late afternoon the breeze started to abate from mid upper 20s and clock right a bit and we started rolling out increments of jib with the staysail still out to keep the speeds up.
Upon rounding Cape Hatteras we turned upwind to a close reach and began taking a beating into short, sharp sea state that frequently broke over the decks. Initially we sailed under reefed jib, full main and no staysail but everyone was pretty uncomfortable between the 20 degrees of heel or so and the nasty sea state. After an hour or two we remembered our experiment from test sailing on the Bay earlier in the fall: get the center of effort lower by sailing with the staysail and only a scrap of jib, as shown in this photo from that test sail:
So we rolled up the genoa, unfurled the staysail and then rolled out about 6 feet of genoa to get the boat speeds over 8 knots. What a difference! Just as we’d seen on the Bay, the change cost a half knot of boat speed but meant going from 20-25 degree of heal to 5-15 and it was an incredible transformation in the experience to the positive. We sailed through a very choppy night which saw the breezes gradually lighten toward dawn. As the sun rose the wind died and we rolled up the sails and began motoring after almost exactly 24 hours of very salty sailing. From there it was motoring or motor sailing all the way to Lauderdale, which we reached around 4PM on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day).
Rover is now in her winter home and a whole new list of boat projects for “the big cruise” has begun!