Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What a great day

The wind lightened up a lot today as I approach the center of the high pressure system I'm trying to get north of. It's due to cross my proposed track tomorrow afternoon so I'm in for some light air until about Thursday morning. With the sea state settled down, it gave me an opportunity to focus on some boat projects such as fine tuning the rig, troubleshooting the engine and finding the loose connection in my SeaTalk network that keeps knocking the wind data off and taking the autopilot (on wind vane mode) with it. Busy day and good news on all fronts; making progress.

This was a beautiful day on the water for sailing. I've been double headsail close reaching for about 24 hours and it's been relatively dry on deck. I even went up without my foul weather gear on to enjoy the several but brief moments of sunshine. I almost forgot what it was like to sail in these conditions after a winter of training in New England where the wind was rarely below 20 knots then leg one to Horta where the wind was never below 20 and often very much higher. Jeroboam performs brilliantly in the upper teens at just about any angle. I've developed a terrific set of polars this month for my delivery sails; too bad it's useless data.  As soon as I get to Plymouth, the racing sails are going on and the boat is going to get sharply tuned up. If I can this kind of performance out of 15 year old delivery sails, imagine what the boat can do with some proper racing sails!

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:44.23524
Longitude:-25.47382
GPS location Date/Time:04/30/2013 07:51:29 EDT

Message:Smooth sailing in easing breeze. >900nm to go

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Bu3J1/44.23524N/25.47382W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=44.23524,-25.47382&ll=44.23524,-25.47382&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Here's the deal

Well the seas have calmed down considerably since yesterday so I was able to get caught up on some sleep this afternoon. I'm having a little issue with the sea water pickup on my engine, an issue that first reared its head way back in Newport but has only been causing intermittent problems. With my wind turbine out of commission for this leg while we try to find parts for it for the race, I'll be relying on my engine a fair bit to charge the batteries so it's important that I get it sorted out. A good buddy of mine,
John Keane of Marine Engines, Inc., just happens to know everything there is to know about engines so he's given me a list of stuff to try which I'll start on tonight.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.40294
Longitude:-26.95663
GPS location Date/Time:04/29/2013 06:50:18 EDT

Message:Beautiful day on the water, engine issues

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BtIxh/41.40294N/26.95663W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=41.40294,-26.95663&ll=41.40294,-26.95663&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

On the road again

It's good to be underway and heading for the starting line, though it took a little adjusting. I got beat up this morning as the wind piped back up into the mid-30s w/ gusts into the 40s shortly after entering the Canal de Sao Jorge which separates Faial and Pico from Sao Jorge. I got a brief respite in the lee of Sao Jorge but hit again between there and Graciosa, my last look at land for a while. These are a really beautiful set of islands. It's a shame to have to leave them after seeing so little of them.

My weather routing has me on a reach at about 60 degrees apparent which is pointing me about 25 degrees further north than if I tried to sail directly at Plymouth; a-ok by me as the sea state is still pretty brutal and at this angle it's easier to take the waves. That low hung around here for quite a while and it'll be some time before the seas calm down which spells a wet ride for me.

I'm taking it easy on the boat with a reef in the main and only half the jib out in 22 knots of breeze; still making 7 knots though.  This is the basic forecast until Wednesday morning when I'll start to close in on the high that's slowing moving SE between me and Europe. Still a ways out so I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather and adjust my angle/timing accordingly. Thereafter, who knows. The GFS model is showing a front/low passing just north of there which could bring some stiff breeze but it's just too far out to bank on anything.

The sun came out a little this afternoon which was very exciting as it's been a while. The low that precipitated my departure delay kept me under cloudy skies for most of the week.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:38.61880
Longitude:-28.52805
GPS location Date/Time:04/28/2013 05:14:23 EDT

Message:On my way to the UK. Left Horta at 0730 UTC.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BsZF2/38.61880N/28.52805W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.61880,-28.52805&ll=38.61880,-28.52805&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Final Departure Prep

Things are looking good for a Horta departure tomorrow. Lots of little details wrapped up today and the latest weather report is showing the wind dropping to 20 knots by sundown tomorrow. I'm all cleared out of customs and ready to hit the road. I just need to do some instrument calibrations in the harbor before heading out.

Once again, thank you to all for your support and encouragement during this difficult phase of the journey. With luck, that first leg will have been the hardest and I can avoid banging up Jeroboam too badly over the next couple months.

One of the customs in Horta is for boats to scribe their names in the cement walls lining the harbor. Jeroboam's name was not added for a number of reasons such as the constant rain showers and my focus on more important matters of boat repair but I did spot one that was of interest to me:


Elmarleen is a Sigma 33 owned by Will Sayer who competed in the last running of OSTAR in 2009. I've never met him but hear a lot about him and followed his progress during that race. When I watched the film "Out There" about the 2009 OSTAR, he was an interesting character study in that the footage of him before the race showed someone who looked a little apprehensive about making a solo Atlantic crossing then the post race footage showed someone rather at ease and triumphant having not only won his class but corrected to first place over all on IRC corrected time - huge win. Anyway, I got a kick out of seeing his boat name on the harbor wall. The mildew is encroaching on the upper right portion but I believe it says OSTAR 09 above the turtle's head.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Weather Delay


I'm planning a minor weather delay in my departure from Horta as there's some heavy wind in the vicinity until approximately Sunday afternoon. The forecast is showing 30-35 knots of sustained breeze in and around the Azores which means I could expect gusts well into the 40s. Here's a look at the grib for Friday night.



By dawn Sunday, most of this ridge will move south and west:



I'll play it by ear and leave when the wind begins to calm down so perhaps sometime Sunday or Monday morning at the latest. Here's a look at my weather routing assuming a Sunday AM departure:



My objective is not to break anything on this next leg. If on arrival in Plymouth, Jeroboam in any way resembles its Horta arrival, the game is up so I'll be playing this next leg extremely conservatively. And it's not like I'm lacking any boat projects in the meantime; there's plenty to do until Sunday or Monday.

It's been very windy and rainy here with a new storm cell passing over head about every 1-2 hours. I've been dashing out on deck between the rain drops to finish the primary autopilot wiring that needed to be redone. I've got it perfect now, even better than before, so all's well there.

There are still a couple quarks with the backup autopilot that I'm working through with my marine electronics expert, Kim Baker of Winsor Consulting in Maine. Kim has materially supported me for many years on a bunch of different boats, Saskianna & Seabiscuit to name a few, so rest assured, I'm in good hands.

Here on the island, I would like to acknowledge Duncan Sweet and his crew at Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services. They have provided invaluable service and support on so many different levels as I grind through the many boat projects and repairs.

And of course a big thanks to my shore support team, Gina and Tom, for all the hard work they are continuing to do for me state side.

The internet connectivity here on the island has reached a new low, if that was even possible, but there's still one bar at which I can get online. The cigarette smoke is overwhelming so I can only handle a very brief stint at a time but I should be able to post a couple more updates before I depart.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:38.53225
Longitude:-28.62543
GPS location Date/Time:04/25/2013 03:44:40 EDT

Message:Still in Horta

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Bq8m9/38.53225N/28.62543W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.53225,-28.62543&ll=38.53225,-28.62543&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rudder Bearing Win

New bushings went on today and the rudder is rock solid, virtually no movement, practically a perfect fit. Huge thanks to my buddy Tom for working through that problem, lending advice, acquiring the parts and addressing my concerns.

Still lots of work to wrap up but that's a big one out of the way.

Jeroboam Damage Report


I've been working hard in Horta to get the boat back together and thought I'd post a summary of the repairs in process.

1. Damaged Spreader: busted end cap replaced, bent spreader straighted, re-assembled and and installed, V1 & D2 shrouds attached, rig tuned.

2. Masthead annanometer sensor replaced, tested and recalibrated

3. Masthead Windex replaced

4. Secure all cockpit vents, 8 total, gratings removed and replaced with solid starboard

5. Remove primary autopilot ram, cleaned, lubed, bench tested & prepped as backup for remainder of journey. Install new, replacement autopilot ram

6. Rudder Bushings; Remove autopilot tiller arm and quadrant, haul boat out of the water, drop rudder, muscle the old bushings loose, hope to God the replacements fit and I don't need to have custom ones fabricated. Put it all back together and drop the boat back in the water

7. Replace wiring for primary autopilot control head that shorted out during inversion.

8. Replace fluxgate compass for primary autopilot, calibrate & test.

9. Replace compass LEDs, both had burned out

10. Replace deck light washed away by last knockdown

11. Replace radar dome, wire, calibrate & test

12. Replace damaged hatch slider boards and try to rework the dodger back into place

13. Troubleshoot backup autopilot issues and solve

14. Replace wind turbine stator and control board

15. Figure out a way to make the cockpit locker lids more water tight; they're letting in way too much water on the knockdowns.

16. Full engine check, looks like a light wind/no wind journey to Plymouth so engine will be getting lots of use

17. Replace circuit breakers damaged by salt water

18. Replace Raymarine Seatalk/NMEA box damaged by saltwater and rework the seatalk wiring

19. Acquire a bunch of jerry cans for extra fuel for next leg

20. Redo the wiring for the autopilot remote control that was damaged

21. Clean up the interior of the boat. Saltwater got everywhere in the boat.

22. Laundry, grocery store and bunch of little stuff I need or am running low on

Video Update

Quick update on Jeroboam's repairs in Horta


Friday, April 19, 2013

Update from Jeroboam on Day 4 en route to Europe

Just giving a quick update from the boat on the fourth day out from Newport, before the first storm hit.


Jeroboam at Hull Speed w/ Only 52 Sq Ft Staysail

During the first storm I hit on April 5th, I was running downwind with the smallest sail on board, a 52 sq ft staysail and Jeroboam was doing hull speed at a little over 8 knots. Big wave hits the starboard quarter at the end.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recap


Sorry I haven't posted an update in a while. It was a grueling battle to get into Horta and I just didn't have the energy or time to get some posts done.

The trouble began with the second big storm to crush me on this leg, the worst of which struck last Friday morning, 4/12, eventually building to 50 knots of breeze with gusts in the 60s (one gust even registering 72 knots on Jeroboam's wind instrument) by Friday night.

The wind was pretty crazy but it was the seas that really struck me with awe and fear. By dawn Saturday, I'd suffered two more knockdowns as the power of the waves far exceeded little Jeroboam's ability to navigate them. Each of these were just as bad as the one I suffered in the first storm the prior week with lots of water in the boat. But these were nothing compared to the final blow that afternoon.

I was down below with the hatch boards closed and slider shut when a huge wave crashed into Jeroboam's starboard side, rolling the boat all the way to port then upside down. I had firm hand holds for the roll and managed to keep my feet on the cabin sole. The boat stayed inverted long enough for me to say out loud "I'm upside down" then began to right itself, coming up the same side on which it went down. The roar of water rushing in drowned out my voice and by the time Jeroboam was on her feet again, it was just about up to my knees.

But as I stepped out onto the deck, the water below was less of a concern than the mast. The lower spreader on the primary port shroud was no longer connected. Anytime a shroud comes loose or breaks, the risk of a rig failure goes way up so I immediately took steps to reinforce that side with the main and spinnaker halyards. The sea state was way too rough to go up the mast for a closer look so I took my binoculars out to see if I could spot any other damage. Another shroud at that same connection point (port D2) looked loose but the split lower shrouds looked fine. I couldn't make out much at the top of the mast but the gear up there was definitely all messed up so I had to assume that there may also be some standing rigging issues up top as well. As long as I go real easy on the rig, I figured I might be able to limp to the Azores without loosing it.

The storm the night before knocked out my wind turbine so I was in power conservation mode which means I needed to work the hand pump to get the water out. Including breaks for deck clean up, securing the rig, Advil, water and food, it took about 5.5 hours to pump out.

That event had an enormous impact on my state of mind. After the first two knockdowns, the third almost seemed routine, in fact I'd learned a lot in the first two and had begun making adjustments that helped me quickly recover from the third such as binding the coiled lines on deck so they couldn't run overboard and making sure to completely drain the head after each flush so the bowl wouldn't empty out all over the nav station.

But the fourth one was a whole different beast that just as easily could have resulted in capsize. Sure I knew these things were possible but I never really expected it to happen to me. When it did, I suffered some serious moments of self doubt and lack of confidence in the boat's ability to handle heavy seas. These mental knock backs were just as serious as the gear ones and for about 24 hours, I severely struggled to maintain an even keel. This was the lowest point of my journey, perhaps my lowest point, full stop.

The autopilot was never really the same after the fourth knockdown as the controller went completely blank and the fluxgate compass which indicates the direction it's pointing in was providing only intermittent service. I attempted to get the backup autopilot going, an older wheel pilot, but its controller was also not powering up. No autopilot means that I have to stand at the helm whenever the boat's underway to keep it pointed in the right direction. It was going to be a very cold and wet passage to the Azores, about 200 nautical miles from my position. To make matters worse, there was plenty more wind in the forecast so it was going to be a while before the seas calmed down.

Because I needed to baby the rig in an effort to preserve it, I carried little to no sail, relying mainly on my engine for propulsion. My average speed was only about 3 knots for those last 200 miles as I needed to occasionally heave to for food or rest. I made an effort to reach Flores, the western most island of the Azores but the wind was not cooperating, blowing directly in my face and as it built to 30+ knots, my headway dropped to less than a knot and I eventually gave up on that idea, bearing away for Horta instead.

It's really heartbreaking for me to have my boat in its present condition. It's pretty trashed. I spent a great deal of time, effort and money getting it together for this race and I'm very concerned about making the appropriate repairs necessary to get to the starting line. Today is my second full day on the island and I feel like I'm making good progress but there's still a great deal of work to be done so I'm drinking lots of coffee and trying to staying very focused on the boat, only taking breaks to do things like type up this summary and post a couple videos so people can get a little glimpse of what it was/is like out here.

I'm working up a full damage report and will try to post something tonight or tomorrow with details. Here's a pic of Jeroboam's track through the storm and into Horta (click to enlarge).


Jeroboam Takes A Wave

I was capturing some footage of waves off the stern when I got hit by one on the quarter that dumped a ton of water on me. Ouch!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:38.53226
Longitude:-28.62543
GPS location Date/Time:04/16/2013 11:30:01 EDT

Message:Arrived in Horta. Shower, nap, food, nap

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BjoT_/38.53226N/28.62543W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.53226,-28.62543&ll=38.53226,-28.62543&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Jeroboam

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:39.84734
Longitude:-30.82437
GPS location Date/Time:04/14/2013 15:21:07 EDT

Message:Cant make Flores,will try Horta after storm

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BibUA/39.84734N/30.82437W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=39.84734,-30.82437&ll=39.84734,-30.82437&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.50993
Longitude:-32.49103
GPS location Date/Time:04/13/2013 04:19:36 EDT

Message:2 knocks,autopilot dead,Azores,repair rudder

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BhYPu/41.50993N/32.49103W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=41.50993,-32.49103&ll=41.50993,-32.49103&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.80032
Longitude:-33.40558
GPS location Date/Time:04/12/2013 18:20:37 EDT

Message:Very heavy seas, getting crushed. Hold fast!

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BhIbs/41.80032N/33.40558W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=41.80032,-33.40558&ll=41.80032,-33.40558&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.93776
Longitude:-34.36243
GPS location Date/Time:04/12/2013 11:29:52 EDT

Message:Doing 8kn in 40-50 breeze w 52 sq ft staysail

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Bh1jb/41.93776N/34.36243W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=41.93776,-34.36243&ll=41.93776,-34.36243&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bring It

Today was the warm up to the main attraction starting tomorrow afternoon. I had three two hour periods of sustained 40 knot winds with gusts over 50. The rest of the day was in the 30s. Thankfully the sea state has been manageable so the autopilot has been able to hold a course fairly well. As you saw from my position report this morning, I took a dip to the south to try to avoid the worst of the 50 knot wind barbs that the grib file is displaying for tomorrow afternoon and evening. When I download a fresh weather file tonight, we'll see if it's done any good. Anyway I slice it, I'm in for some brutal weather between now and Sunday.

I was doing my afternoon deck inspection and noticed the port D1 aft shroud had loosened up considerably so I spent some time securing that and giving the rest of the shrouds a careful inspection, though did not go up the mast.

The forecast is showing a slight lightening of the breeze tonight, perhaps down to the 20s so I'm hopeful to get some good sleep in but we shall see; it's pretty bumpy. All hell is forecasted to let loose by 8 EDT Saturday morning.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:42.31007
Longitude:-37.90936
GPS location Date/Time:04/11/2013 08:54:36 EDT

Message:40+ already this morn. In for a long weekend

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BgG13/42.31007N/37.90936W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=42.31007,-37.90936&ll=42.31007,-37.90936&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Getting ship shape

In advance of some lousy weather, I spent the day getting the boat in shape for the worst. This one could be worse than the last and
the last one was pretty awful. The wind will build into the 30s tomorrow then head for the 40s & 50s Friday night so I'm potentially
looking at 2.5 days of wind over 30 knots. Ouch. This is going to be ugly.

Happy birthday to Gina and Kirsten!

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:43.51029
Longitude:-40.45007
GPS location Date/Time:04/10/2013 09:37:04 EDT

Message:Last day of nice weather for a while.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Bfc1b/43.51029N/40.45007W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=43.51029,-40.45007&ll=43.51029,-40.45007&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Another good run

The miles are ticking by; boy is there wind out here. Since I left Newport 8 days ago, there's only been about 6 hours or so when the wind has dropped below 20 knots even though the forecast has promised it on several occasions. Wind is great for making the boat go fast but the challenge is that it also whips up the sea state making for a very bumpy ride which of course affects eating, sleeping and everything else on board.

The extended forecast has a rollercoaster in store for me including some calms and a few bouts of very strong wind. It's still a little early to see how the balance of the week will play out but suffice to say, it won't be boring.

The sun is rising a little earlier each morning and setting a little later each afternoon as I travel east. No such thing as boat-lag. I'm going too slow for that but speed is relative and this morning was an epic run with sustained speed over ground in at 8+ knots and that's in a neutral current. Wind is down a little this afternoon so boat speed is off but that's ok.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:42.78669
Longitude:-43.92639
GPS location Date/Time:04/09/2013 10:37:05 EDT

Message:Happy w/ progress,making tracks on beam reach

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BeyRG/42.78669N/43.92639W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=42.78669,-43.92639&ll=42.78669,-43.92639&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:42.41682
Longitude:-47.93857
GPS location Date/Time:04/08/2013 10:27:58 EDT

Message:Freezing cold but sun is out & beam reaching

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/BeIL-/42.41682N/47.93857W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=42.41682,-47.93857&ll=42.41682,-47.93857&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Storm Recap

When I did the return leg of Bermuda 1-2 in 2009 with my buddy Zoe, we hit some brutal weather as a low parked itself southeast of New England, giving us a strong headwind for the last 2 days of the race. The boat and crew took a beating as we hammered into 30 and sometimes 40+ knots of breeze on the nose but the seas were never really that bad, maybe 8-10 feet or so. Don't get me wrong, it was still brutal sailing with Jeroboam launching off waves then shuttering so violently on landing that I was seriously concerned for the boat. Yesterday's storm was different in that it whipped up the waves something terrible. I hadn't been out in waves like those before. My masthead is about 50 feet off the water so I would guess the wave heights were about half that conservatively, perhaps as high as three quarters. I know, I know, everyone exaggerates wave heights when they're on the water, and it's easy to do because they always look bigger than they really are, but I think my range is pretty close here.

As they were building Friday night, I stayed on my easterly course but at a certain point they became too large to make any real progress east so I began to crack off to the northeast. At first I sailed with a reefed main and my storm jib but as they wind increased Friday evening, I dropped the main altogether, lashing it securely to the boom and turned another couple points downwind with just the storm jib. But the wind quickly increased to steadily be in the 40s, and it was clear I was still flying too much sail. I began to get suited up for a very wet foredeck sail change. Just as I finished donning my boots, I felt a wave really kick out Jeroboam's stern so that we were no longer stern to the next enormous wave coming at us, rather beam to. This is bad but usually just results in a lot of heel as the next wave hits before the autopilot can get us back on course. As bad luck would have it, the next wave was a monster that was just starting to break as it hit us. The boat rolled onto it's side very quickly, so quickly that I just assumed we were going to keep on going from the sheer momentum but somehow we stopped and after a few more seconds, the boat righted itself, though much slower than we'd gone over and enough time to feel a bit panicked as I heard a lot of water rushing into the boat.

Most of it came down the companionway, which was boarded up with the slider closed but not latched and there are two other places I suspect allowed some in, one a vent and the other was the starboard stern locker. Luckily I was in the aft cabin getting suited up so as the boat knocked to port, I had only a foot or so to fall until I hit the cabin wall. Had I been in my bunk I'd of been thrown across the relatively much wider salon which would have been very painful. I quickly put on my jacket and looked up on deck to see if the rig was still there. Thankfully it was, even the storm jib was still attached. The autopilot had us back on course so I went below to assess the water situation and decided I'd get the electric bilge pump going while I cleaned up the deck a little.

Back in the cockpit, the first thing that struck me odd was that every single line (about 22 in total that control sails, trim, boom, etc) on both the port and starboard side had been tossed into the sea, including the ones that were uncoiled sitting on the cockpit sole. But the really odd part was that all of them lead over the top port lifeline first, then into the sea, not over the rail or down the cockpit drain or out the open transom. This would suggest the knockdown was more than just a 90 degree roll and that the mast and storm jib probably hit the water. I shined a flashlight into the rigging half expecting to see seaweed up there but didn't spot any nor could I spot any damage to the masthead instruments; the wind gauge was still working and the masthead tricolor was still illuminated. I gathered all the lines back into the cockpit then did the same for all the halyards which had been coiled up at the base of the mast. These too, all of them, first ran over the top lifeline, then into the sea. Thankfully, none were fouled on the rudder or prop so it was an easy chore getting them back on board.

It was time to get the storm jib down, which was the whole point of suiting up in the first place, so I eased the sheet, got the halyard ready and waited for relative lull in the wind for the drop. It was soon on deck, wrestled back into the cockpit and stowed in the sail locker.

I checked on the bilge and it was draining nicely at this point. The effective rate of the pump is 5 gallons per minute and after about 20 minutes, the bilge was empty which means in just a few seconds during that knockdown, Jeroboam took on around 100 gallons of water. Imagine if it had been a roll over?

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.79466
Longitude:-51.38864
GPS location Date/Time:04/07/2013 09:54:01 EDT

Message:Fine sailing and all back to normal on J-Bomb

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

more on this later but

just a quick note to say nothing broke and the worst is past. v tiring, brutal night so need to grab some rest. I'll try to post
more tomorrow.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.42922
Longitude:-54.96301
GPS location Date/Time:04/06/2013 06:10:44 EDT

Message:Making 5kts under bear poles in 40+kts wind

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Jeroboam
Latitude:41.08606
Longitude:-55.32727
GPS location Date/Time:04/06/2013 01:30:37 EDT

Message:Knockdown but ok.Pumping out & ready for more

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:40.67815
Longitude:-56.45221
GPS location Date/Time:04/05/2013 16:57:29 EDT

Message:Congrats J&J! Niece arrived just as storm did

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The Dreaded Storm

Well it looks like midnight to around 10 AM tomorrow will be the worst of it. I've studied all the weather data and have a plan in place for dealing with it so hopefully nothing breaks and I get through it alright. Everything is just about ready to go on board though I have a few more things to do on deck before the winds really pipe up so I'll make this post brief.

A fellow competitor in Bermuda 1-2 once wrote that if you're going to go offshore, your boat needs to be able to take 50 knots of breeze. I believe mine can but I suppose I won't know 'til I try. Clearly the goal is not to break anything so I'll be taking it easy and playing it safe. I aint racing afterall.

To Tom Vander Salm's question of adding wind vane steering before OSTAR, it's out of the budget so the best I can do is sort out the issues on my current autopilot, of which I have some ideas. It's been steering a steady course for 24 hours now so that's a good sign.

I heard that today may be the big one for Jeff & Jody - good luck!

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:40.66157
Longitude:-57.70374
GPS location Date/Time:04/05/2013 08:14:43 EDT

Message:Thx for well wishes,shore team fwd'g, charge!

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

A brief respite

The 30-40 knots gusts have eased back a bit and I'm in the gulf stream now so spirits are up on board Jeroboam. The stream is adding about 2.5 knots of speed and I'm cruising along with just a reefed jib at this point and making around 8.5 knots over the ground - fine work for Jeroboam.

Tomorrow night I'm going to get crushed by a deep depression that looks like it will pass north of me but leave a trail of 40-50 knot wind (with higher gusts) over my little patch of the Atlantic. Forecast is predicting about a 12 hour period of this unpleasantness so I'm hoping that holds. 12 hours I can handle. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the relatively mild conditions for the next 24 hours, make sure I get plenty of food and rest and prepare as much as possible for the onslaught of weather.

The crew got a shave this morning which always makes one feel a little more human with at least the appearance of hygiene.

The watermaker, solar panel (though it's been cloudy a fair bit) and the wind turbine have all been performing beautifly. The autopilot was acting up again this morning with it's heading shinanigins so I need to be careful there.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:40.61090
Longitude:-60.65475
GPS location Date/Time:04/04/2013 08:31:29 EDT

Message:Tons o breeze,may let up later. Freezing rain

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fair thee well, dodger

Everything was going along fine until I decided to gybe. It was about 2 AM when I first thought I'd have a better angle on the other side but held off for a couple hours to be sure. By 4 I was sure. It was blowing >30 so a violent gybe was in the cards if I wasn't careful. Running back off, check; preventer off, check; trav centered, check; new gybe angle worked out, check; main sheet at the
ready, check; autopilot able to hold a course on the other gybe, fail. I didn't notice until the second attempt that the compass readout on the autopilot wasn't even close to reality on the other gybe. Very strange. It was just fine on the original gybe. A reboot fixed it but not before two accidental gybes took out my dodger. I assume the main sheet must of caught it but I didn't have my eyes on it when it happened. I was trying to figure out why the auto said 300 and the compass read 090. Anyway, Jeroboam's down a dodger but this time I was able to save the pieces. I don't yet have a plan worked out for repair but a couple scenarios I've briefly considered involve parts not on board so I'm not sure if it'll be functional for the balance of this leg. Too bad. I was starting to enjoy it.

The wave height is up considerably after a couple days of solid blow. Little Jeroboam gets tossed around on a big wave occasionally which is annoying but there's not a lot I can do about it besides get a rudder with a larger aspect ratio. If I try to sail a little deeper, I'm concerned about more accidental gybes so I'm just living with it for now. I definitely don't have too much sail up as I'm only flying the main and reefed at that. Forecast shows a slight ease tonight but not much so I'll probably fly this set up until tomorrow then gybe SE again in preparation for the big one later this week. I'm not looking forward to that one.

My appetite is back and I've consumed about 6000 calories in the last 12 hours or so which makes up for the deficit. The head cold is subsiding though there's a scratchiness to my throat that makes me wonder if act two is in the wings.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:40.06614
Longitude:-64.04846
GPS location Date/Time:04/03/2013 08:40:29 EDT

Message:Only day 3? Hmm feels lots longer.Dodger gone

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Pole is Committed to the Deep

I had a tough night last night. First of all I felt awful, due mainly to this head cold which is the source of the headache and it's affecting my appetite. Because I'm eating less, my energy level is down and I'm feeling pretty tired.

The front moved through earlier than anticipated last night which caught me a little off guard; I had too much sail out. The boat rolled sharply to starboard and when the pole hit the water, the downhaul parted and the pole snapped against the D1 forward shroud. It was pretty messy but I managed to cut the pole away before the sharp edge destroyed sail or punched a hole in the deck as it was flailing around pretty violently. After that the jib got messed up on the furler and it took me a while to sort it out. There were other issues as well but those were the big ones.

At this point I dramatically reduced sail and was in better shape for the rest of the evening, though didn't make tons of headway. Same game plan for tonight as there's some 30 knot wind barbs in the forecast for this vicinity. I'm sailing a bit south this afternoon to try to get below the worst of it. It really stinks not having a pole as the boat won't go dead downwind very well without one.

I'm trying to get my energy level up by forcing down some food and I think it's helping a little but I need to eat a whole lot more to keep up with the calories I'm burning.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:40.87829
Longitude:-66.98403
GPS location Date/Time:04/02/2013 10:16:13 EDT

Message:Rough PM,pole broke,saved jib. Headcold worse

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Monday, April 1, 2013

East vs. South

Heading east is way different psychologically than heading south where you pay your dues going through the gulfstream and are rewarded with islands of white sand beaches and rum drinks after a brief stop at Bermuda, the gas station on the way to the Caribbean. To the east, there's nothing, not for a long, long time. I passed a fishing trawler at Nantucket Shoals heading the other way but that's about all I've seen so far. Plus a song bird who stopped on the leeward rail for a rest before pressing on to the
Vineyard.

Wind and sun are producing a ton of power today so I made a bunch of extra water. In an hour or so I will come up on the traffic separation zone for the intersection between the northern MA & GOM ships and the eastern NYC ships. Forecast looks like a shift to the NW so I'll throw a gybe at some point, probably after dark.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

Jeroboam
Latitude:41.30019
Longitude:-71.00281
GPS location Date/Time:04/01/2013 06:52:47 EDT

Message:Lumpy seas, nice breeze, left Newport 0320

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