Friday, January 23, 2015

GoM passage Day 4 - Mon Jan 12th

Morning update.  Last night, right around the time Kara was starting dinner, the seas began building and the wind really picked up.  We where seeing 25-30 knots out of the SW and with so much fetch, the seas where getting big (by our current standards) 8-10ft.  BABOO was doing great but surfing some of those bigger waves really got…exciting.  We reefed down a bit on both sails to slow us down a bit and speed our recovery as we had a tendency to round up a bit when we surfed.  Of course right about then I spotted our first oil rig (drilling platform for you non-Texans).  Fortunately, we where still on a broad reach, so we had plenty of steering options and altered course to port (slightly more southerly) to help keep us out of the bulk of the platforms.  From that first rig, it was like a dam broke, we where seeing anywhere from 12-15 rigs at all times and gradually altered course more and more to port (S) until we seemed to be taking them all on our starboard side (NW towards shore).  It was going to be an exciting night for Kara and I since this was by far the most weather we had seen.  The winds weren’t too bad at 25-30 on our beam to port quarter depending.  But the seas really made it a challenge to judge our course relative to the rigs.  We also started seeing lighting all around, for the most part it was just cloud lightening, not much actually striking the surface, but it added to our overall feeling of apprehension.

Fortunately, the rigs are huge and for the most part super well lit, so seeing them was easy.  Choosing a course that allowed us to miss the greatest number of them with the minimal amount of course corrections, was a bit more challenging.  I see now why so many people consider radar, essential equipment for sailing the gulf.  The added visibility for course selection would have been great last night, and today, and tomorrow…oh and possibly Wednesday.

Over the course of the night we got hit with some pretty heavy rain showers, so it was a fun introduction to as Blaine likes to call it “moderate weather sailing”.  I actually think the weather alone would have been fine but adding in the stress of having to maneuver, under sail in those conditions around 100s of oil rigs, in 10 ft seas, in the dark, in a driving rain, with lighting all around, was fairly stressful for both of us.

Still, we did fine and this is exactly the reason why we wanted to be here, on the boat, standing our solo watches bringing her home vs. just paying someone to drop her at the dock for us.  If we’re going to do some cruising, it’s time to start building up some relevant experience.  I have to admit though, I was glad to have someone aboard with plenty of experience who could look at those conditions and say, meh no big deal y’all got this.  I’m going to catch some sleep, wake me if you need me.

Which brings us to today.  We’re now motoring WSW, because the light NW winds we where expecting finally showed up around  0430 this morning.  The seas have calmed significantly 1-2 ft.  Kara, and I just had a couple cinnamon raisin bagles with peanut butter for breakfast, cleaned up and got ready for the day.  My 4 hour day watch begins in about 30 minutes, so I need to get hoping here.  I’ll do my best to get some pictures of the rigs today. I tried last night but the conditions and the fact that we try to avoid them by a wide margin, made it tough to capture the moment with my iphone.

Until next time, wish us luck and above all – Excellent weather

--Evening update--

We motored most of the day and once we worked our way into the “safety fairway”, a two mile wide corridor with no rigs, life got much simpler.  Once the wind shifted a bit and with by adjusting our course to stay in the fairway, we where even able to raise sail...WOOHOO.  It’s not the most direct route, forcing us to continue WSW off the coast but it makes up for it in lack of stress dodging all those freaking rigs, and the fact that we can continue to sail.

Tonight, we had a very simple dinner, frozen family style meal warmed up on the stove.  Not our favorite food, but it was easy and relatively tasty...and hot.  If you’re prepping for a trip like this, a supply of simple, easy to cook in any conditions meals are a great idea.  For lunch though, Kara made an excellent shrimp ceviche that we scarfed down in the cockpit.  It was great with lots of fresh Florida veggies, so we did have a nice fresh meal...don’t worry mom!  For the most part we eat really well on our trips.  While we ate lunch in the cockpit, we actually had a pod of very small dolphins (porpoises) drop by to play in our wake and bow wave.  They didn’t stay more than about 5 minutes, but it was a nice surprise.  I broke out the gopro and hope to have gotten some footage of them swimming, we’ll see how it turns out once we’re back home.

Our one nice sunset during the crossing came at a good time.

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