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There is a HUGE freighter directly in front of me!!!

5:30AM, on December, 22, (the day after solstice, and the second shortest daylight hour day), a convoy of 3 catamarans departed the Charleston Harbor in SC. The temperatures were a balmy 45 degrees, and light winds. After waiting dockside for 6 weeks due to a series of excuses such as: work, inertia, flu, boat repairs, convoy coordination, cold weather, too windy weather and more — the conditions were finally “perfect” – from my standpoint. Lite winds…cold, but not freezing…and 3 catamarans ready to go.

Rick and Linda’s catamaran MakeItSo won the prize for the most boat repairs in a 48 hour period (AIS, navigation lights and a brand new battery charger installed only 12 hours earlier, and countless reboots to see if anything would improve). Our boat, Cat Maudy took a very close second place award, with it’s ongoing rudder mal-alignment issue, and sails that require a crew of 5 to hoist. Larry and Karen’s boat Chateau sur la Mer, was short on diesel and running on fumes (without wind and the use of sails), but Karen skillfully cooked up bean soup to the rescue! Yes, the conditions were perfect for a 200 mile offshore overnight cruise!

Jane’s Boat logs:
12.22 8AM Conditions Calm & Lumpy – I can live with this
12.22 10AM MakeItSo hugs shoreline for Internet connection. I aim for MakeItSo.
12.22 11AM No seas at all – lovely!! Metabolism is in overdrive. Eating every 2 hours. Maybe this is nothing new?..I suppose I normally eat every 2 hours…12.22 1PM Pat wants to hoist the main. I need to workout more. Sail is too big. I insist on 1 reef – you never know when big winds suddenly appear.
12.22 2PM lite air – thank u jesus
12.22 3PM steering problems. I have to tether on the port pulpit…and dangle over the rudder to release the hydraulics. Joy! What’s with this POS rudder?
12.22 6PM last stitch of twilight. Visibility nil. Stars and moonlite. I hope our radar works. Soxy is not herself. I have to hold her a lot.
12.22 10PM Pat sleeps. I head the boat toward shore.
12.23 midnite Cat Maudy and MakeItSo share radar, navigation and AIS info. What a wonderful world
12.23 1AM What’s up with these freak’in rudders? I get to dangle over the port pulpit again. I hope Jaws isn’t waiting for me.
12.23 3AM Pat sleeps. La la la….all is good. HOLY SH*# there is a huge freighter directly in front of me!!!!!!!! Take evasive maneuvers. I’m wide awake now. Can’t wait for daylight
12.23 4AM A little breeze is appearing. Hope it stays little. Why is the air from the south? Soxy is not eating.
12.23 6AM daylite cannot come soon enuf. We’re getting winds from the East. It’s supposto be from the north. Wrong again!
12.23 8AM little itsy bitsy breeze is causing the seas to act up? Getting lumpy.
12.23 10AM Pat is diggin’ the breeze. Down to 1 engine, motor sailing at 7.5 knots. It’s actually OK. As long as it doesn’t get feisty.
12.23 1PM We approach St. Augustine inlet. I bring down the main. It’s a monster…takes forever allowing me to bounce around and try to hang on. Oh yeah, I get to dangle over the rudder again. We need steering to get thru the inlet.
12.23 2PM Soxy is no longer talking to us. I’m guessing motion sickness.
12.23 6PM Soxy is back to being our pal

Pat’s Boat Logs
12.22 10AM Karen makes bean soup for Larry. Suddenly, they are catching air! Head out further from shore.
12.22 12PM Busted No wind. 1 engine (starboard) to save fuel.
12.22 1PM Radio communication w/Larry down and back w/Rick. Hoisted Main. Waiting for wind
12.22 3PM steering problems persist. I recalibrate from the helm.
12.22 5PM Larry sleeps. Too much bean soup.
12.22 8PM Jane sleeps. I head Cat Maudy out away from shore.
12.23 1AM recalibrate the rudders every 2 hours now. Steering is bad.
12.23 3AM Jane wakes me up and is fussing about a freighter. Yep, she almost hits it.
12.23 5AM Jane makes me a grilled cheese ‘sammie. 5knots apparent from the east. Hope to unfurl the jib by dawn.
12.23 7AM Unfurl the jib – we are now motor sailing. Hoping for more wind.
12.23 2PM Wait 30 min for the Bridge of Lions to open. Our marina is on the other side of the bridge
12.23 3PM Secured at dock.

Northwest winds did not exist, and any winds were from the south. This provided the benefit of warmer weather, along with the accompanying concern that the forecasters got this one completely wrong. North west winds should clock to North…then North East….but southerly winds (albeit very light) should not have been in our weather window. And why were they clocking east? I could see the potential for big seas erupting. But, they didn’t. At least until after we arrived at St. Augustine.

32 hours later, we arrived at St. Augustine, FL and successfully avoided mating Right whales, and becoming bowsprits on incoming freighters at the St. Simon Inlet. Even with starlit nighttime skies, and radar hinting that a “blip” might be important, you just can’t see a thing in the dark. Including inbound freighters at the St. Simon inlet.

At the end? 3 catamarans…intact, Boat repair list…expanding. 6 crew members….exhausted. And more cruising stories to tell. It was time to make plans to celebrate Christmas, in St. Augustine.

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