How About This: We Actually Sailed Our Sailboat!

By Rich

In the past I have written on these pages that there isn’t nearly as much sailing living the cruising lifestyle as one might think. This was true even when I was on my single-handed sabbatical on the Sabre, but it’s even more true on Rover with two of us working full time. We can really only make large passages over the weekends and the odds are usually against us for conditions to be right for sailing without the help of the engine. This season in particular the conditions simply haven’t lined up such that we could stop the main engine and still keep the speeds up enough to make our destinations in a reasonable amount of time. As a result, apart from a brief sail between Block Island and Newport on our original delivery north, we have only motored or motor sailed this entire season.

Yesterday the stars finally aligned and we had perfect conditions to sail in the ocean all the way down the eastern coast of Cape Cod, mostly under spinnaker! For me this was like a glass of water to a man in the desert and it really recharged my batteries. Rather than write about it, I am just going to post a few photos and videos to let you come along for the ride!

It’s been a surprise, but we find that spinnaker reaching is the Hylas 54’s strongest point of sail. We are amazed at how little wind it takes to get her going and how she accelerates in the gusts despite her ample 60,000lb displacement. Her wide transom offers lots of form stability, which means we can carry the spinnaker with the wind notably forward of beam apparent. A strong favorable current helped us reach a top speed of 11 knots over the bottom yesterday.
Lisa and Brian are the foredeck team aboard Rover. It’s not an easy task digging the spinnaker out of the forward sail locker since it lives under deflated paddle boards and various other random awkward items that need to be removed first. And then you’ve still got to hook the thing up and get it hoisted! Top work, foredeck team!
Our route around the northern side of the Cape allowed us to experience every point of sail posisble, and that meant we used every sail on the boat at one time or another.
The small, flat in-mast furling mainsail turns into a big advantage when spinnaker running since it allows more wind to reach the spinnaker than would a “real” mainsail. That means we can carry deeper angles with the asym tacked to the stem.
Converging weather patterns meant that the wind died as we reached the south shores of Cape Cod, then built aggressively from the south. We finished the day motor sailing almost dead upwind with only a reefed headsail while belting into a steep chop!
It was Rum-O’Clock when we picked up our mooring in Nantucket!

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