First, let me say, I love the post Hannah made earlier. We post separately because we are very different people so we have very different perspectives. We are really good at communicating but, like many couples, there is still room for improvement – and “Us Too.” will be a great help.
There are many things that Hannah omitted from her post that need to be said, some of which she is not aware. The plan was to splash, then for me and the yard manager and the chief mechanic to take her for a spin (so to speak) to allow for final adjustments to be made to the engine, the stuffing box, the controls and to just generally get some confidence of her seaworthiness. I suspect my boating skills were also being assessed as we were launching into a small craft advisory and there could be issues with a boat yard giving the keys to a less that competent helmsman. Realizing this, my return approach to the fuel dock needed to be perfect and, thankfully it was. Sailboats never steer well forward on the motor (they’re sailboats!) but Glander’s choice of rudder design is renowned for poor (understatement) performance in reverse. Having verified this, my return to the fuel dock needed to be a perfect, one attempt, forwards only – and it worked.
From that point on, I surrendered the helm to Hannah. She had the helm the whole way from St Croix Marine to the mooring in Salt River. We had discussed this several months ago – that I needed her to be the helmsman so that I could work the sails, the lines, etc. but I didn’t know she remembered. She did fantastic.
Exits from Christiansted harbor are well documented and marked; not so for Salt River. We had not had the time to mount electronics so the GPS we were using was a small, handheld Garmin Colorado 400t, which does not have “charting” capability. Our best assessment of the passage through the reef and approaching our mooring was done using Google Earth and we placed pins for our planned track. with the intent of uploading to the handheld.
Good plan; poor execution. It was no-ones fault but we ran out of time so from memory, I manually entered the waypoints into a route plan and the rest was going to be up to us; my rusty skills and Hannah’s developing skills.
Here, you can see our success leaving Christiansted harbor; the blue is the actual path we took; the white line is the Google Earth planned track; the yellow pins are the Google Earth planned waypoints and the flags are the Garmin waypoints I entered manually from memory. There are two ways to get in/out of the harbor around Protestant Cay and we took one recommended by the yard manager, not the one planned.
As you can see, we did pretty good, especially with some pretty big swells – or I should say, Hannah did well, her first time at the helm of a 33′ Tavana. Contrary to her posted picture of us both at the helm, I only held the wheel while she fished her camera out of our dry bag and set for a timed shot in very bouncy water.
In Google Earth, I had entered our route as vectors but one never sails vectors; so I am very pleased with the path we took. DDWR stands for – “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson” – because there are shoals off the entrance to Salt River that we could only estimate from GE and only guess at when manually entering the waypoints. The heavy swells helped here as we could clearly see the breaking water over the shoals as we approached and virtually abandoned the GPS. There are times that the swells are so big that the entrance through the reef is really difficult to distinguish but, as you can see, we entered perfectly, used visuals to navigate the shallows and rocks and approached where our mooring “Popeye” is located.
Popeye is a standard mooring ball that is just a little too small for the weight of chain that attaches the eye to the 6 ton forklift counterweight that, by now, has sunk several feet into the alluvium of Salt River. So “Popeye” (the previous owner of the mooring gave it this name) is difficult to find because only the eye is above the surface. We had kayaked out several months earlier and GPS’d the location but, being on about 80 feet of chain, he can move around.
As you can see, we had difficulty finding him. We cut into neutral and dropped an anchor to consider the situation. Hannah was studying the GPS and, in the light of the setting sun, she spied a ring bobbing above the water about 50 feet away.
Lessons learned? Put a flag buoy on the mooring: Put a floating pick-up line on the mooring; get a better ladder for transitioning “Us Too.”.
Sorry for the long post but – it’s our blog (or “Us Too.”).