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On Christmas Day we made landfall at Jost van Dyke, BVI after 18 days at sea.

26 Dec 2015, Anchored, Great Harbor, Jost van Dyke, BVI–The Far Reach, with my sister and me on board, took her departure from Cape Lookout, NC on the morning of 8 Dec. We made landfall at Jost van Dyke, BVI after 18 days.  The total distance sailed was 1,643 nautical miles.  The Far Reach was magnificent in every way. She was solid, quiet, and did not leak a drop of water even though it was a wet upwind ride most of the way.

We had frustrating headwinds most of the way. A couple of times we were forced to sail well away from where we wanted to go. Around 26 degrees north latitude we sailed east about 180 miles out to 62 degrees 30 minutes W longitude, well east of Bermuda, to try to get a better angle on the forecasted unusual south easterly trade winds as we pushed further south. The last five days, when we were finally able to reach off a bit, the trade winds were 25-30 knots (35 knts in the squalls) with seas about 10′ to 14′ with a few larger one thrown in on occasion.

We had three days of absolute mirror calms just drifting–a painted ship on a painted ocean. We went swimming in 17,000 ft of water so clear and blue it defied description.

Many times it was so rough we sailed only under the stays’l, sometimes reefed, still making 5-6 knots.  We both got sick a couple of times. Towards the end, I was not eating much.  I lost my “love handles” and now proudly have an “outie” for a belly button!

At the beginning of the trip we were becalmed and drifted north in the Gulfstream for about 20 miles. But, we also had some glorious sailing. We made 140 miles in one 24 hr period and 135 on another with 12-14 kts of wind sailing close hauled on a fairly smooth sea. We saw thousands of flying fish streaking over the surface of an often times tumultuous ocean.  South of Bermuda we were paid a visit by a beautiful Tropic Bird who dropped down to about 20 feet and closely inspected us.

We were reunited every night with the eternal constellations that have guided and reassured mariners for millennia. Early in the trip we were fascinated by meteor showers with shooting stars brilliantly streaking down from the heavens sometimes every 15 seconds.

There was a new moon when we started where it was dark as hell and we finished our voyage under an awesome full moon shining a path for us to our destination.

On Christmas Eve, as we crossed paths with the huge cruise liner “Regal  Princess,” we were cheerfully wished a Merry Christmas over our handheld VHF radio.

We made landfall over the north bank of the BVI on Christmas Day about 14 miles west of Anegada Island blasting down wind with a 30-35 knot breeze with a stays’l and double reefed main. A few times the Far Reach surprised me by surfing probably hitting close to 9 knots. We sailed in to Great Harbor, Jost van Dyke anchoring under sail in 35′ of crystal clear water.

The two heroes of the trip were my sister Tricia and our magnificent Cape Horn self steering windvane.

It was a very hard grueling sail but epically worthy. I feel blessed and eternally grateful to so many who helped make it possible. I am thankful if God had a hand in keeping us safe.

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Waiting for a weather window at Cape Lookout, NC to cross the Gulf Stream.

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Plotting our daily position.

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There was lots of time to think.

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A painted ship on a painted ocean. We drifted for three days with not a breath of air.

 

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So, without an engine to speed us along in the calms, we swam in 17,000′ of water.

 

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The clarity of the water was stunning.

 

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Swimming in all that water you could not help but to feel insignificant.

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The contrast between, boat, water, and sky was powerful and ever changing.

 

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My sister Tricia is a highly accomplished sailor in her own right.  I could not have asked for a better shipmate.

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A retired San Diego fire captain, Tricia is smart, tough, confident, courageous, athletic, and harder than wood pecker lips.

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There was plenty of time for catching up on the logbook.

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There was never a lack of incredible beauty.

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For the last five days we close reached in reinforced trade winds. The motion was indescribable. Landfall was welcomed indeed.

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