Oct 26-Nov 10, 2021
Whales and Dolphin, and Mahi, Oh My!
We had a great sail to Solomons, MD averaging over 8 knots boat speed in 20 knots of wind on the aft quarter. Champagne sailing. We anchored just passed the tug boat station in Mill River and got a diver to come clean our hull before going into Spring Cove Marina. For some environmental reason, they don’t allow hull cleaning at the dock.
The people that ran the Caribbean 1500 were great and took terrific care of us. We loved the little touches like a VW Microbus with a kegerator hidden inside, and awesome band by the pool and free breakfast every morning. We started off with 9 boats in the rally, but one by one, people discovered boat issues and had to drop out. Bad keel bolts, a cracked mast, and an delayed engine installation were the types of major issues that stopped people from going. In the end, only 4 boats left the dock. It got a bit tense as departure time approached, because a big weather system was coming up the coast, and we decided to leave two days early rather that wait an extra week or possibly more for it to go by. This created a big rush. The rally had lots of great speakers scheduled – weather experts, rigging experts, storm tactics experts – and they all had to talk as fast as they could to fit most stuff in. John Kirmshner the famous sailor was there, and meeting him and seeing him leave with paying crew on his millionth or so passage was fun too. He held a little captain’s hour talk around the fire table at the pool, and had a really nice way about him.
On the last night, we all went for yummy Thai food in the rain. When we got back, the dock was under water. Luckily, the water was warm enough to wade barefoot back to the boat, where they had to turn off the power for safety. There was high tide, and all the rain, with the wind blowing up the bay, caused record high tides. It was about double the normal tide swing. We found out a couple of days later that our friends dock floated off down the Magothy river, so that was a huge bummer. We also missed a trip to the Calvert Muesum, and a sunset cruise on a historic ship because we got out of Dodge two days early.
In exchange for missing out on the pre-rally events, we got a really easy passage. We had amazingly little wind, and motored 4 days, at least one day less than the other 3 boats. Our only really exciting sailing was the last day. We had the Dragon out all day, flying along at 8-9 knots, until about 2 miles from the finish, the wind died. Like it was turned off with a light switch. We had to turn on the engine to finish. This broke Jeff’s heart. It took him like an hour of bobbing around to give in and turn the switch.
On the trip we found many ways to have fun. We saw two different pods of dolphin, which was my absolute favorite. We caught Mahi, Tuna, and Wahoo, so the fishing was terrific. I think Jeff’s favorite part was when Doug caught an Amber Jack, and a huge Mahi kept trying to take it as he reeled in. That wiley Mahi got the Amber Jack off the hook right as we drew it along side the boat. It was super cool to see that huge Mahi do what it is built to do. I learned I never want my fingers anywhere near a Mahi’s teeth. That Amber Jack was not little, and it’s jaw just hinged open in a way that could have taken my whole fist! Doug wanted both those fishes so badly. I told him that Mahi knew exactly what time it is.
The day before Jeff and Doug had lept off the boat in totally calm water for a swim, since we weren’t moving anyway. Doug’s watch somehow slipped off, and we are sure that Mahi is now wearing it on his tail! Swimming in 17,000 feet of water is something to remember.
We did a 3 hour watch system at night, with an 8PM, 11PM, 2AM, and 5AM. Each night we took the next watch, so you never had the same shift twice. We discussed which watches were best but couldn’t decide as each had pros and cons. With everyone getting 6 hrs in a row off every 24 hrs, we were tired when we arrived, but not exhausted. The most tired part was just moving around when your environment is always at a slant.
Maybe because of the ab workout for staying vertical, we spent a lot of time discussing, preparing, and eating food on this trip. The meals we made and froze in 3 person serving ahead of time were very important, especially the Chili and beef stew for the first 2 nights when it was still chilly. It was amazing to go from weather in the 50s to instant 80 degrees as soon as we hit the gulf stream.
All in all, it was a terrific passage. The only bad parts were being frustrated by lack of wind, and one day when the sea was annoyingly rolly. These complaints are so minor – no stressful, death defying stuff that I had worried about.
We picked up our mooring at Norman’s by 9PM, and all slept soundly. When we told the guy that came to collect the mooring fee the next morning that we’d just arrived from Maryland, he said we deserved a free night. Love it here! Anyway, it took us 10 days, 4 hours to get from Solomons, MD to the BVI.
WE DID IT!!