We had hoped to sail to Bermuda this summer but it was just not in the cards. We had too many balls in the air especially with the kids graduating from home high school and the seminar I teach at Camp Lejeune graduating at the end of May. So, we decided to enjoy a more simple to execute, week long cruise out to the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This trip was just for Gayle and me. Because the kids are usually with us, it was the first time Gayle and I have been alone on the Far Reach for more than a night. So we left the newly graduated high school seniors at home with a credit card and the car keys.
While I would prefer to have the Far Reach engine free all the time it would require access to a mooring that we could sail on and off. There are very few moorings in NC and none where we are. She is berthed in a small marina with 360° of protection. So, we often carry a Honda 9.9hp four stroke outboard on a custom-made removable swing arm bracket attached to the port quarter. The outboard allows us to more conveniently move her in and out of her slip, make the tight turn onto the fairway, then exit the narrow 1/4 mile long channel out to the Neuse River.
It was about 40° F when I got to the boat the other day. Had a few small projects to accomplish and I needed to complete some reading for a college seminar I teach one night per week. When we rebuilt the Far Reach we installed a small Danish designed gravity drip heater called a Refleks M66MK. It is normally set up for diesel fuel but since we don’t have an inboard engine we jetted it for slightly more efficient kerosene. The combusted fuel is vented out of the boat via the flue and a Refleks smoke-head.
The fan on the heater top is called an Eco Fan. It runs through a process called the pelitier effect which is the result of the second law of thermodynamics—heat flows from an object at a higher tempature to a body at a cooler temperature. The fan sits on the cast iron heater top-plate. The fan base absorbs heat which in turn moves towards the cooling fans. In the process, the heat passes over a thermocouple. As as a result, a small amount of electricity powers a 12 volt fan located in the fan body, which drives the fan blade. The fan does a wounderful job of moving the warm air around the boat. It can also be repositioned to blow the heat in any direction desired.
In no time the boat was toasty warm. The Refleks Heater Has settings from 1-8. We had it on level 1 or 2 … so it’s very efficient.
The boat is wonderfully comfortable and quiet. Like a well made tiny house but ready to go to sea and serve as our magic carpet to any place we may desire.
When sailing downwind, especially offshore, there are two specialized control lines you need to have on your boat. Both are associated with the mainsail. The first is a boom-vang and the second is a preventer.
There is simply nothing like running downwind in the trades.
With our off-shore adventure on pause it was time to put the Far Reach on the hard. I have several small boat projects to complete, a summer of family camping planned, and prep work to complete for the kids 11th grade home-school year. Since I can’t spend time on her, better to have the Far Reach as safe as possible with hurricane season upon us.
2 June 2016–The Far Reach, Anchored, Cape Lookout, NC
The Far Reach, safely made landfall at Cape Lookout NC about 1830 yesterday, 1 June. We are anchored at almost the exact spot from which my sister Tricia and I took our departure for the British Virgin Islands on 8 December.
We–the Far Reach and I–for I singlehanded this voyage, sailed 1,334 nautical miles from St Maarten to Cape Lookout in 12 days. It was a wonderful offshore blue water adventure. We successfully dodged Tropical Storm Bonnie and in fact sailed right under the mostly disintegrated “Low” about 1400 lyesterday (though I now understand she may be regenerating as she moves NE up the coast).
20 May 2016–The Far Reach, Anchored, Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten.
I spent 2 1/2 hours yesterday scrubbing the hull of the Far Reach in preparation for my upcoming singlehanded passage back to NC.
I moved the Far Reach out of the lagoon this morning. I have provisioned with food, ice, water, and cleared Customs. With luck I’ll get underway this afternoon. That would put me near Virgin Gorda tomorrow morning. I can divert to the BVI in daylight should the halyard chafe issue not be solved.
The winds are expected to be light for the next week. Could be a slow passage. Will have to see. inhave had a great trip this year. I have learned a lot. I have also gained tremendous confidence in the Far Reach. With luck, I’ll make landfall at Cape Lookout and 10-14 days.
11 May 2016, The Far Reach, Anchored, Sint Maarten, West Indies
Last night I found myself thinking back about our passage from Cape Lookout to the BVI. I feel fortunate that Tricia and I made the trip together. She and I have sailed together since before we were teenagers and let me tell you that is a long time! I couldn’t have asked for a better shipmate. A retired San Diego Fire Captain, she is smart, athletic, tireless, fearless, and harder than woodpecker lips.
The Far Reach, Anchored, the Lagoon, Sint Maarten
I continue to find myself anchored in Sint Maarten, like so many other cruisers, waiting for a part to arrive. It seems that almost every boat passing through here is waiting for either parts to arrive or on repair work to be completed before they can continue their journey.
The boat in front of me has been here over six weeks trying to get proper work done to repair a broken watermaker. The boat on my starboard side limped in a few days ago having lost their mast. They were told by the rigging shop they should expect to be here at least a month. Another boat captain I spoke to has been here for almost three months getting their hydraulic systems repaired. There are a number of boatyards here and they are all filled with boats. Sadly, there also many boats that seem to be abandoned, like so many broken dreams . . . like once beautiful birds now too old and crippled to fly.
25 April 2016–The Far Reach, Anchored in the Lagoon, Sint Maarten.
My number one priority is to get the chafing halyard under control. To do that I needed to get back up the mast and confirm exactly where the chafing is taking place. The anchorage in Simpson Bay was very rolly. So, last Monday morning, I weighed anchor about 0900 and got in a line of boats to make the 0930 opening of the Simpson Bay draw bridge. We made it through easily and without fuss and anchored in the still lagoon, on the Dutch side, in about 7-8 of water. I climbed the mast the next evening when the wind had completely died. Flat as a mill pond. A fellow cruiser hauled up my working jib with the chaffed halyard and of course it was clear to see the problem. Right where I thought. I know what I need to do.
Next day, I sent the photo off to Robert so he can fabricate the right kind of hardware to solve the problem.
I was restless. Not too much you can work on when you have a boat with almost no systems. Time to take a drive around the island. I rented a car. A red Ferrari. $30 for the day. Hard to beat a price like that.