Monday, February 19, 2007

Departure - November 4, 2006, Saturday

“ . . . those who go to sea for pleasure must do so in the full knowledge that they may encounter dangers of the highest order.” (From the Official Inquiry on the Fastnet Tragedy of 1979)

After tearful goodbyes with Alena, George Kates, and JoAnn Andrews, we pulled away from the dock in Tiverton, RI at approximately 9:30 am. Joining us for the leg to Bermuda were Merrill Brown, who has been working on his Shannon ketch in the boat yard that we have been in for the past year, and his friend Bill Pease. As we motored down the Sakonnet River, I finished stowing the last of the spares that we had brought aboard and made sure that our kitty, Lenore had food, water and access to her litter box. As we approached Lion’s Rock, we raised the main sail. We motor sailed out of the mouth of the river, into the Atlantic, leaving the States behind.

We wanted to make good time to the Gulf Stream, which, at our average boat speed of 6.5kts, was a good day and a half away from our departure point, so we continued to motor sail throughout the afternoon. Crossing the Gulf Stream can be notoriously rough, especially if you hit it with wind against the current. Both Sten and I had been anxious about this first leg of our trip for months. The anxiety was compounded by the fact that we hadn’t had time before we left to give Mata’irea, her new main and running rigging, or the repaired autopilot a proper shakedown. But the report from our weather routing service showed gentle breezes for the first day of the trip and a good window for crossing the Stream. As a crew, all four of us had discussed it the day before, and decided that we would use the first day out to make sure everything was working properly and make any adjustments. If we had any problems, we could turn back before we reached the stream.

Our first sunset at sea was accompanied by dolphins riding our bow wake. Every time I see them my heart fills with joy. They are meant to bring good luck to a passage. But more than that, the beauty of seeing them in the wild is just amazing. I don’t have the skills to put into words the freedom of their play as they rise on the crest of our bow wake and dive into the trough. It is just a sheer joy to watch them.

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