Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Mystic Venture indeed.

Wow.... what a trip. Alot of people doubted that 4 people who don't know how to sail, on a boat which is completely unfamiliar, for the boats first trip of the season, and in waters completely unknown would live to tell the tale (or write a blog). Not only are we alive, have all of our limbs, and are better friends than before... but we had an awesome trip.

The crew for this journey are some friends of mine whom I met through climbing. TJ (now known as Consonant J), the legendary Aaron Taylor, and Kansas (who laughs in the face of adverse conditions... literally).

It wasn't all smooth sailing, infact, it didn't start out smooth at all. Our first night was spent sleeping in the parking lot of a VW dealer, which bumped our schedule off a bit... but in the end it was a good thing.

We arrived at the boat Saturday night, and proceeded to unload the tons of gear we brought. To set the mood for the trip... Aaron grilled some steaks to perfection, and we opened a specific bottle of wine... which we shared with the transom of the boat in a slightly ritualistic way. This was the first night spent on the boat.

Sunday was spent preparing the Mystic Venture for the journey ahead. We came to her with 7 bottles of wine, and by the end of the day, we were down to 9 bottles of wine... after drinking 3 since our arrival. We put her name on her, filled the galley with necessities, stowed all the gear, cleaned her inside and out, filled the water tank, bought some spare parts, and enjoyed the thought of the journey to come.

Monday was the sea-trial. The broker showed up, and was much less than helpful with the boat. We started the engine, ran her around the river, checking out the electronics, and being sure everything was operating as listed. In total, this "sea-trial" lasted 10 to 15 minutes because he had to get to another meeting... I would not recommend him to anybody.

Monday afternoon, with the right tide, we finally untied the Mystic Venture from the slip she was in, and moved her to the ocean. We stopped for fuel along the way, spending a total of $22 to fill her tank. The first night we spent on the hook in a little cove called Horseshoe Cove in Sandy Hook Bay... its something amazing to be on your boat, on the hook for the first time.

Tuesday morning, the crew and I woke up as early as we dared venture with the light, and made our way north into New York Harbor for the maiden voyage around the Statue of Liberty! Its quite something to cruise your own boat into NY harbor, and up to the Statue of Liberty for her first voyage! It is something that neither I nor the crew will soon forget. We then made our way to Manasquan inlet to spend the night. We sailed for some of this time, but mostly motored as we were heading right into the wind, and needed to make the miles.

Manasquan was not the prettiest place we stayed. We had to anchor in the harbor due to there not being any transient slips open in any of the marinas. We managed to find a tiny cove to anchor, with some help from a local. This "cove" was a bump in a river in the town... it felt like we were in a parking lot, rather than on the water. The train ran so close that the conductors would wave at us... and we could see which color Slurpee people were buying from the 7-11 across the way. Not an ideal place... but it was semi-secure anchorage for the night.

The next day, our plan was to get to Absecon Inlet, the inlet for Atlantic City. We woke a little late, and attempted to do some sailing, even though the wind was against us... which meant we had to do some tacking to make any headway. We headed about 7 miles offshore at one point, to see if we could find a different wind, which we didn't. We ended up not being able to make it the whole way to Absecon, and instead had to stop in Little Egg Inlet. The weather on the way took a turn for the rougher, and we ended up powering through 4 to 5 foot seas... but the boat handled it with no problem. Water came over the bow a few times, and washed over the deck, but I felt confident in the boat the whole time.

There aren't really good charts for Little Egg because the shoaling keeps changing here... which makes it tricky to find a place to anchor. Once in the inlet though, we spotted a couple of sailboats anchored up for the night, so figured that would be a decent place to go. As we were motoring over to them, we noticed a change in the water color likely indicating a shallow spot, but it could have been a current change also (strange currents in some of these inlets). We crept up to it, keeping a sharp eye on the depth gauge... once we realized it was shallow, we put the boat in reverse, and managed to only tap the keel into the sand bottom. There are two types of sailors, ones that have run aground, and ones that will. We spent the night on the hook here, where the boat sat strangely as the current and wind were in opposition to one another.

Thursday, we had to make up some ground... or water, as we were off our schedule some. The weather looked to be a bit rougher, and wetter. We motored for the entire day to make it to Cape May, NJ. The seas were not as rough as they had fore casted, but there was rain... and we had to don our wet weather gear for the first time. We made it all the way to Cape May in plenty of time, where we re-fueled, bought some fresh crab, and then made our way across the Delaware to a safe harbor on the other side. As we crossed the Delaware, we came across a huge pod of dolphins, probably 30 or 40 or so. They were tail slapping, jumping, and playing. We coasted close enough to see them, and they came over to see if they could surf our bow wave. We anchored that night in a beautiful cove, very protected, with only slight current. It was an ideal location... and would have been a nice place to get in a little earlier, and hangout at. Maybe I have to go back another time.

Friday was a day we expected to do alot of sailing. The wind was supposed to shift to a more desirable direction, and be generally nice for sailing. Turns out the wind was very light, so we decided to power on for most of the day... we had a plan of covering 65 miles that day... which is a big day. Our destination was Chincoteague... and I wanted to be sure to make it there before dark, as this is another inlet where local knowledge is needed... and we didn't bring any locals with us. We ended up finding a cool little spot to drop anchor, and had a great evening.

Saturday turned out to be one of the best sailing days on the whole trip. We woke up early, and began our 70 mile journey to Salt Ponds, Virginia, where the boat will be docked for the next several months. We motored for a while, until the wind picked up. Once we had a decent enough wind... I gave the order to raise sails, and we shut down the engine. We sailed for most of the day, mostly running with the wind, but with a few hours of beam reach. I had grown comfortable enough with the boat that I was tuning the sails at the same time as piloting the boat, while most of the crew lounged, read, or made meals. This was the day that made it all worth it... and the kind of day I hope to live again an again. We made port in the evening... crossing the Chesapeake with hardly seeing any other traffic. I was surprised to not see many others out as the wind was great, the water calm, and the sun warm.

The boat is now safely docked in her newest home-port... waiting for Maria and I to take her out. I can not imagine being able to do this without the amazing friends I took as crew... they all did an awesome job, and it wouldn't have been possible without them. My only regret is that Maria was not there for the trip... but, she and I will have many, many more miles in the Mystic Venture.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Congrats! I've ben checking to see when you would make it in and will have to run down & check out your boat. I have C&C34 Hull #117. It used to be in Hampton, but now in Portsmouth. We also bought ours last year and love it. An excellent boat!