The Mai Toi

The Mai Toi
Year Built: 2009, Hull # 25, Hailing Port: Guilford, Ct. USCG COD # 1222048, MMSI # 367425460, SSB Call Sign: WDF-2154

Sunday, January 19, 2014

We're okay at this location

Friday, November 1st.  We received a pretty good weather window from Commanders Weather through Wednesday November 6th just ahead of a strong cold front approaching the East Coast and moving off shore Thursday night with winds increasing 30-35 kts.

Day 1, Saturday November 2nd.  The weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies, winds NNE at 6-12 kts increasing to 12-18 kts in the afternoon with occasional showers and temperatures in the 60's during the day and 50's overnight. We had originally planned to leave Port Annapolis Marina around 9:00 am but due to an unusually low tide we weren't able to get out of our slip until almost 2:00 pm.  Our first stop was the fuel dock at Annapolis Landing Marina where we took on 57.72 gals of fuel at 102 engine hours and filled 5-5 gal. Jerry Cans. We were finally underway at 2:40 pm headed down the Chesapeake at slack tide with the wind beginning to fill in at our backs, comfortably motor sailing downwind to Norfolk.  We encountered some brief rain squalls overnight and arrived Norfolk at 9:30 am (18 hours and 45 minutes later) amidst a steady 15-20 kt wind and following rough seas.

Day 2, Sunday November 3rd. The day was partly sunny with the winds continuing to blow from the NNE at 18-20 kts.  Although still chilly it was warm in the sun and relatively calm within the protected and narrow confines of the ICW.  We arrived Coinjack, N.C. at dark and were safely tied up to the bulk head at Coinjack Marina by 6:30 pm, 1 lock, 13 bridges and 9-1/2 hrs after reaching Norfolk, VA.
After dinner onboard and a few bottles of wine our SPOT message "We're okay at this location" became the mantra for the remainder of our trip.

Day 3, Monday November 4th.  We departed Coinjack Marina at 9:00 am amidst sunny skies, winds NNE at 13 kts and 50 degrees.  We went aground where some shoaling extended just inside channel marker # 130 but managed to free ourselves with a little maneuvering. At 2:00 pm we crossed the Alligator River Bridge. We anchored just outside the entrance to the Alligator River Canal at 35-40'.289" N and 76-5'.613" W at 5:00 pm with 138.5 engine hrs and winds 15-20 kts.

Day 4, Tuesday November 5th.  We weighed anchor at 7:30 am and entered the Alligator River Canal. It was sunny and warm with light NNE winds. Aside from several sailboats assisting another sailboat who lost their engine and went aground just inside the canal the day was relatively quiet and uneventful.  We passed under another 3 bridges and anchored in Bonner Bay just off Davis Island Point at 35-09'.122 N and 76-35'.176" W.

Day 5, Wednesday November 6th.  We weighed anchor at 7:00 am.  It was partly cloudy and warm with E winds 10-12 kts. We arrived Beaufort Docks in Beaufort, N.C. at 2:30 pm with 156.5 engine hrs. The forecast called for winds 25-30 kts gusting to 40 kts ahead of the cold front on Thursday and Friday so we decided to wait until Saturday morning before going off shore.
We took on 62.02 gals of fuel, traveled 343 nm and put on 54.6 engine hrs since leaving Annapolis.  We spent our time doing some routine maintenance and system checks, replacing a corroded SSB coaxial connection, re-provisioning the boat and familiarizing our selves with Beaufort. We were okay at this location.
We visited a grave of a young girl who according to legend, traveled to England with her father who promised the child's mother to return her safely home. Sadly, on the return journey, the young girl became ill and died at sea. Desperately wanting to keep his promise to return home with his daughter, the girl's father purchased a barrel of rum from the ship's captain to preserve the child's body. He placed his daughter's lifeless body in the barrel of rum and returned to Beaufort where she was buried in the rum cask at the Old Burying Ground Cemetery. Visitors leave gifts of shells, toys and trinkets on top of her gravesite pictured below which is marked by a wooded head stone.
The weather forecast from Commanders on Friday called for fair weather with a chance of showers  on Sunday and Monday, light and variable NNE winds and seas 3-5 ft. through Tuesday.   A strong cold front will bring a surge of very strong NNE winds as far south as the Northern Bahamas on Wednesday with wind speeds to 30 kts making for some very rough conditions off shore. Our objective was to make Treasure Cay before the affects of cold front arrived.

Day 8, Saturday November 9th.  We departed Beaufort at 6:00 am.  We had 3 waypoints on our off-shore route to Whale Cay, our entrance to the Abacos, Bahamas:

33-14'.901" N
076-43'.493" W

31-1'.000" N
076-13'.000" W

28-54'.100" N
076-46'.600' W

We were well on our way along our route towards our first waypoint marking our GS crossing when we heard Securitas, Securitas, Securitas on ch. 16 on our VHF radio.  This is U.S. Navy Warship 44.  We are conducting live fire exercises in the vicinity of coordinates such and such which were right on our route towards our first waypoint.  All ships must maintain a 10 mile perimeter. If we go West we are directly in the line of fire. If we go East we get forced into crossing the GS too early. The Warship eventually gave us permission to pass to the West under 10 miles without going too far off course and putting ourselves in any danger of their live fire exercises.

Days 9-10, November 10th-11th.  At sea. Weather was variably cloudy with light and variable ENE winds and 2-4 ft. seas. The 2nd cold front which Commanders warned of developing over the east coast would bring a surge of very strong 20-30 kt  NNE winds making for some very rough conditions off shore as far south as the northern Bahamas by Wednesday so our main concern was to get into the Abacos before this next frontal system arrived. The decision was to either arrive Whale Cay at dark before the expected cold front and rough conditions or arrive during daylight hours the next day with the cold front and winds at our back. We chose to stay as far ahead of the cold front as possible which would put us at Whale Cay at dark. The decision then would be whether to enter the notorious reefs surrounding Whale Cay at dark or wait until first light.

Day 11, November 12th.  We arrived Whale Cay at 11:00 pm. We had been monitoring and comparing the accuracy of our depth finder, paper and electronic charts and taking range bearings as we approached Whale Cay and were comfortable that our electronic charts were accurate enough to enter Whale Cay in the dark with only the light from the moon. What we didn't expect was for our chartplotter at the helm to lose its backlighting.
We had originally planned to take Loggerhead Channel but decided on the straight approach to Treasure Cay. In hindsight this turned out to be a prudent decision because we later found out that a barge went aground on the shoal at the entrance to Loggerhead channel which we may have not seen in the dark.  So using a flashlight to backlight our chartplotter and our crew strategically
positioned on deck as lookouts we were able to navigated our way through Whale Cay into Treasure Cay and arrive safely at our slip at 1:50 pm on Wednesday, November 13th, day 12.  

Off-shore distances:
11/9-10                     116 nm
11/10-11                   126
11/11-12                   130
11/12-13                   115
Total off-shore         487
ICW                         343
Total combined        830 nm

Total fuel used including 5 x 5 gal. jerry cans = 188.34 gals ~132.5 eng hrs = 1.42 gals./hr. 

Below is a plot of our actual route vs our planned routes superimposed on the Gulf Stream data.  In summary, we nailed the southbound eddy just to the east of the GS at 32 40 N and 076 11W. There was also apparently no place for us to go south of the eddy where we hit the adverse current if we had altered course.  Based on the departure data we were exactly where we were supposed to be in the eddy but the current had changed against us. Maybe the storm from the preceding Thursday and Friday changed the direction of the current in the eddy.
The U.S Navy also ultimately forced us to use the northern GS crossing instead of our alternate southern GS crossing which would have put us in an adverse current much sooner. By altering course from S to SE we increased our SOG from 3.8 to 5.5 + kts. and were on the best VMG  possible under the situation.
In hindsight we probably should have taken advantage of that SE route for a few more hours which would have put us further east given us more south bucking a weaker adverse current and potentially picking up some fair current the last day.  Nevertheless in the end we were able to average 5.5 kts. off-shore, beat the 2nd cold front and arrive Treasure Cay safely.

Unfortunately the Caribbean Rally's didn't fair as well. They elected to depart Beaufort, N.C. for the BVI's on the Wednesday we arrived in hopes of beating the first impending cold front where forecasters had predicted gale force conditions off-shore on Thursday and Friday.  The USCG assisted by the U.S. Navy reportedly saved four lives and responded to five sailboats in distress. Two sailboats, Ahisma and Wings were abandoned due to hull damage and gear failure and their crew rescued by the USCG. It is believed that the Ahisma has sunk while Wings is adrift and awaiting salvage by their owners.
Two other sailboats, Like Dolphins and Nypa were dismasted and made it back to port under their own power. Three sailboats encountered rudder problems and were towed into port by the USCG and the Braveheart returned to port with one crew member with a broken arm.
There have been a number of other reports of torn sails, gear breakdown and system failures and these boats diverted to Bermuda and/or the Bahamas for repairs under their own power.
In response to the above, the USCG issued the following Marine Safety Alert: Inspections & Compliance Directorate for Offshore sailing. http://wow.uscgaux.info/Uploads_wowII/P-DEPT/1_and_2_14.pdf.
 
I would like to thank my crew Capt. Mike Bancroft, Capt. Bob Clark and Capt. Tom Lanzilli for their time and help to make this a safe and successful passage but most of all for their friendship and the camaraderie which evolved from our having to rely solely on each others experience and seamanship skills to succeed.
 
           Good judgment comes from experience but experience comes from bad judgment.   
 
The Mai Toi will remain cruising the Abacos until the spring of 2014 when it will return to Guilford, Ct. for the summer after a short stop in Annapolis, Md. for some routine maintenance and repairs.    



 











 
 
























 



 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last post before departure

From all the weather data we accumulated to date it appears as though we have 3 options to cross the Gulf Stream. The option furthest south seems to be our best one so far. Staying inside to the west of the Gulf Stream until the most optimum crossing point would allow the predicted North wind to change or diminish and also be our safest option. The actual crossing is still too far off and the weather forecast is still too far out for us to select an option for crossing at this point in time.
We will be monitoring the weather and GS closely between now and then. We should arrive Moorehead City, NC by Wednesday 11/6 and head off-shore on Thursday 11/7 in which case we will be able to more accurately predict the weather for our time off shore and be able to select 1 of our 3 options for crossing the GS and route into Treasure Cay.
Attached is a compilation of the weather and GS data we have accumulated so far which shows our various options for routing and crossing the GS at this time.
This will be the final post prior to our arrival in the Abacos. I will up date the blog with all of the statistics and pictures from the trip once we arrive and get settled.


WX & GS FORECAST – Annapolis to ABACOS 10-29

Departure: Saturday Nov 2
Winds 10 15  kts W going to NW 15 -20 kts in afternoon. Chance of rain in the morning.  On the flood until around 1700.

Sunday Nov 3
Lower BayNorfolk to Coanjock? - 1000 on flood, wind NW 10-15 kts on the bay, 8-12 kts NW on ICW

Monday Nov 4
Coanjock to Alligator or Pamlico River
Winds E to NE  8-12 kts

Tuesday Nov 5
Alligator or Pamlico River to Oriental
Winds mostly calm – shifting to ENE 6-10 kts

Wednesday Nov 6
Oriental to Beaufort, NC
Winds 5-10 kts E

Thursday Nov 7
Beaufort to Abacos - Departure
Winds S- SSW morning going Westerly 15-02 kts

WPTS (southern crossing):
34 34.607N/076 41.522W
32N/078W      
31N/077W
26 44.8N/077 11.5W

WPTS (northern crossing (revised)):
34 34.607N/076 41.522W
33 19N/075 17.5W    
26 44.8N/077 11.5W






Friday November 8
At sea GS crossing in late afternoon
Strong north wind – 25 kts



Saturday Nov 9
East of GS laying Abacos
Wind NE 25-30  kts




Sunday Nov 10
At sea maybe late arrival
Winds 25-30 kts ENE



Monday Nov 11
Morning Abacos Landfall
E 20 kts – this will be a breaking sea entry so want to do it in good daylight.
















Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gulf Stream # 5 update

Attached is the latest gulf stream routing.  Must admit, it's a bit sketchy because half of the reliable resources out there are tied up with the government shutdown.  I know they are collecting data, just not posting it so this data is 1 week old from 9/30.

This data still presents a similar picture to prior data. The big decision is to run the coast and find where to cross the stream. There appears to be a weak, but nice counter current that takes us right to the island once we get to the East side of GS.  The daring route continues to take us well south to South Carolina and then bopping across in a easterly meander which would actually be fair for us and very fast (if it is still there), then once the GS influence weakens we alter course south to the lay line. 

The other route is more conservative and the classic route of crossing the stream further north keeping it just aft of the beam and stay on that until we get out of it's clutch. Major thing with that route is not to go too far east, otherwise there is an eddy that is against us for a 100 miles or so.

Right now we're betting on the more coastal route/cross GS further south and hopefully the government will start posting their data again soon and we can make a more informed decision.

Regarding the weather, we have had a series of beautiful Highs hanging over the mid-Atlantic.  The two Mexican and TS Karen events were odd both being a Gulf of Mexico albeit weak events.  By now, everything should be east coast events and the Gulf should essentially be done.

Good thing we have Commanders Weather as a back-up although they also depend on Navy/NOAA data, they have other resources that we don't have so we would definitely rely on their opinion in light of current political events.


Need to watch the weather and Atlantic tropical activity closely from here on in. Things should begin to stabilize soon and we can focus on our weather window and route south.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Gulf Stream update # 4

Not much change in the GS routing.  Looks like there are still two options with the first being the most desirable - Essentially South from Beufort to approx 32N/077.4W and then find a fast heading to approx 33N/076W so we don't buck the current and then south to Abaco once we are out of the GS's strength.

This route gives us a good heading in the prevailing SE winds or westerlies and it appears that there is a southbound eddy that will give us a little kick.

The other route is more down the coast and crossing abeam of Charleston - the only advantage to this route is if there are questionable weather issues and it allows duck-in options.

Weather wise, it appears that some of the classic characteristics of autumn weather trends are starting to kick in - there will be a big High coming down through the lakes and slowly drift to the east.  This will bring stronger winds out in the NE area as a low passes up by Nova Scotia and northerlies off Hatteras - for our route this would bring a nice fair breeze - although a bit on the lighter side.

It's still too early to worry about weather right now, but we are continuing to watch the currents and infact there are some anomilies in the predictions which locates the GS in different areas on our route and also locates some eddies in different parts of our route but more importantly our speed through the water vs. speed over ground differential will give us the real story.
 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Solomon's Island

We visited Solomon's Island from 8/17 to 8/24 and stayed at the Solomon's Island Yacht Club. It was about 50 nm from Annapolis where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Patuxent River.  We averaged +/- 6 knots and it took about 6 hours going and 7 hours coming back against the current. There was no wind in either direction.  The forecast for the week was hot and humid. The SIYC was very accommodating.  It was clear the day we departed but it rained on and off the first 2 days we were there. The weather cleared on the 3rd day and it became sunny, hot and continued humid for the remainder of the trip. We visited the Calvert Marine Museum, Oyster Packing House and the U of M Marine Biological Laboratory. The Island is known for it's Tiki Bar which supposedly attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually. We also made a trip to the local WM about 1-1/2 miles away and had lunch at The Captains Table. We were invited to attend a Taco dinner at the yacht club and had dinner at DiGiovanni's, The Striped Rock, The Dry Dock Restaurant at Zahnisers Marina, Solomons Pier and the Belle Maison Bistro at the Blue Heron Inn during our stay.  Across from the Island is the Patuxent Naval Air Station where jet fighters took off and landed regularly throughout the day. Solomon's Island brought  back some old  memories.  It was our first unscheduled stop after leaving Reedville, Va. with the first Mai Toi in 2000 in route to Guilford, CT.





 
 
 
 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gulf Stream update


There are two possible routes as of today.  The first route is approx 500 nm and is the preferred route if the winds are right.
The alternative route adds 110 nm, in case we get southerlies or southeasterlies early in the trip. The alternative route will give us a better sailing angle or if we get north to northeasterlies early in the trip, in which case it is desirable to stay out of the stream until they shifted.
Both routes provide about 50-65 nm free miles from the current.
The Rhumb line (about 460 nm) adds 50-65 nm through the water.  IE: GS routing optimization gives a 100-130 nm difference,  about a day of sailing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Inner Harbor

A little side trip to the Baltimore Inner Harbor this past Labor Day weekend with good friends Pete & Joyce Arentzen.  We went to the National Aquarium and had dinner at the Rusty Scupper on Saturday and saw the Izod Indy Car Series Baltimore Grand Prix and met the winning driver Simon Pagenaud at Fogo do Chao Sunday night. We stayed right downtown at the BMC Inner Harbor Marina. The boat performed exceptionally well although we only had 5-10 knots of wind. Nevertheless it was a beautiful weekend, sunny and very warm. Now to begin final preparations for the Bahamas trip.