2003 Norfolk-USVI Report


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Course:      Ocean Training Cruise, Norfolk, VA to St Thomas, USVI
Date:          November 16-29, 2003
:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:     Jochen Hoffman, Bill Reed, Jerry Morris and Bob Frost. 
First Mate: Bill Batchelor
Captain:      Jeff Troeltzsch

Saturday, 15 November
I've been onboard since Thursday going over the yacht and preparing for arrival of my ocean crew. Today they arrived including First Mate Bill Batchelor and student crew Jochen Hoffman, Bill Reed, Jerry Morris and Bob Frost. 

Sunday, 16 November
Today we began pre-departure training and inspections, navigation prep, departure weather analysis, crew inspection assignments, watchkeeping procedures and assignments, food provisioning and more. 

Monday 17 November
Today we continued training, preparation, and provisioning and departed Little Creek VA at 1600 hrs.  Scheduled departure was for early AM on the 18 November, but weather of an approaching low dictates a 30 hour window to cross the gulf stream before the front.
Piloting navigation techniques are used to exit the harbor, including radar training and triangulation with land points.  We time arrival at the Chesapeake Bay junction buoy to enjoy an ebb tide providing 1.3 knots on the stern.  Infrared downloads from the internet prior to departure indicate a cold eddy pushing south so we sail a tight course of 155 T down the coast, DR to a narrow section of the gulf stream neck 10nm above Diamond Shoals Light.  Watches are set at 4 hours on 8 off. 

Tuesday 18 November
Winds are E10-15; seas 2-4 feet.  The Low has stalled and is forecast approach our area by 2200 hours. Progress during the past 24 hours: 132 NM with an average speed of 5.5 knots. Position 36.30N 074.40 W Sea water temperature before entering Gulf Stream is 68F.

Wednesday 19 November
Winds S15-20; seas 4-6 feet and confused. Clocking winds and developing cloud patterns confirm approaching Low. Progress during the past 24 hours: 156 NM with an average speed of 6.5 knots. Position 35.4N-75.0W. Course 130T making Easting across Gulf Stream. Water Temp increased to 72F.  

Sail Set: Main #1 reef; 110% jib and Staysail. We're using the staysail for bow pressure to help drive the boat through the seas.  Normal parameters for staysail use on Halimeda are 65-85 Apparent Wind Angle (AWA) with wind speeds of 12 to 22 knots. Now sailing at 45 degrees AWA at 6.0 to 6.5 knots. At 1400 hours crossing the middle of the stream; water temperature 75F. 

Thursday 20 November
Winds S25-30 knots; gusting higher; seas 6-9 feet. Sail Set: Main #1 reef and staysail. Position 35.30N-071.25W. Water temperature 69F indicates we've crossed the Gulf Stream. Continue to make Easting; Course 120T.

At 0300 hours wind builds to 40 knots; using feathering techniques with traveler all the way down and tight staysail. At 0400 hove to waiting for the forecast wind shift to West. During wind lull at 0500 hours, 110% jib is rolled out; wind returns to 30 knots. Boat speed 7.5 knots;  Halimeda ski jumps a wave putting sleeping crew  on the ceiling a gust blows out top two panels of the jib. At 0830 hours wind shifts West; set new Rhumb course to St. Thomas of 173T and 1100 NM. Two crewmembers down DOA; change to rotating shifts with 4 crew; 4 hours on and 4 hours off. 

Friday 21 November
Winds NNE 20-30 knots; gusty; seas 6-8 feet; driving wave trains. Position 33.20N-069.20W.
24 hr. Progress during past 24 hours: 175nm made good on course. 1530 hours: Caught a blue fin tuna; great dinner. First great star night;  shoot evening star sights in addition to daily sun lines. Meteor showers late. 

Saturday  22 November
Wind NNE 20-25; seas 15-18 feet. Low has moved off to 40N-55W and has met another Low to our NE sending large swells south. Sail set: Main #1 Reef and Stay Sail. Position 3150N-067.10W; course 160T; average speed 6.8 knots. We have hooked into a High pressure trough 150 NM wide; making easterly course to stay in the trough; "gravy train" sailing. All crewmembers back; return to 4 on 8 off watch schedule.

Sunday 23 November
Winds NNW 25-30 knots; seas 20 -25 feet; large racing swells with breaking green tops. Position 29.50N-066.40W; course 160T.
0830 hours: Shackle on Main Traveler fails. Temporarily rigged boom with dock line; replaced shackle and sail on. 1000 hours: Boat speed is exceeding hull speed; rigged and trail warps 100 yards back with one figure eight loop for drag. Boat speed reduced to 7 knots; steering much easier. 

Monday 24 November
Winds NNW 15 knots; seas down to 4-6 feet. Early am showers; popcorn squalls; rain helps reduce wave height. Expect fair weather to continue for balance of trip. Working to east of 65W to get Trade Flow. Position27.35N-064.40W. Course 153T.
Conduct Man Overboard Drills. Catch a Mahi Mahi; 20 pounds; great dinner. Venus up early in the west; Mars up all night. Rising Moon fools the helm that a vessel is coming. 

Tuesday 25 November
Winds N 15 knots; seas 2-4 feet. High pressure has taken over; beautiful day. Position 25.00N-065.30W. Conduct Man Overboard Drills. Caught another Mahi Mahi... delicious!! Tired of fish... Sailors need meat. Many shooting stars with long sparkler burning tails. Night Star plotting used to check Compass Deviation .

Wednesday 26 November
Winds SE; light and variable; waves less than 2 ft. Distance to St. Thomas 300 NM. Motor sailing. Position 23.05N-065.30W. SE Trade Winds building in afternoon; put on full sail.
2300 hours: Freighter passes within 3 mile CPA; first ship in 4 days. 

Thursday 27 November
Winds ESE 10-15 knots; seas 3-4 feet. Course 180T. Position 22.00N-064.38W. Sailing on beam reach with full sail and 130% jib. Caught 30 lb Mahi Mahi; another dinner; the big one got away.
2200 hours: Sight the lights of Tortola and St. Thomas. 

Friday 28 November
Winds E 20 knots; seas4-5 feet. At 0500 sight Jost Van Dyke in BVI. Sail between Jost and Tobago keys around east end of St. Thomas. At 1100 hours arrive at Crown Bay Marina, St. Thomas. Vessel and crew are all well.

Captains Comments: This trip was a perfect ASA108 ocean passagemaking classroom.  It offered enough weather change for the crew to accommodate tactics and sail plan. Routing was the key to fast passage using the Low and High Pressure Trough relationships to provide a groove in which we made good easting. As with all long passages, crew teamwork and accommodation is key to success and great memories. Fishing was outstanding and celestial sights were taken every day with additional old world navigation techniques. Follow Orion's sword to the islands in November. On this trip, Interstate Highway 65 did deliver the Trade Winds, but during trips in the past the rhumb line has been the better path. Mid course rhumbline sailing leaves the door open for choice when going to the islands. As the crew departed we just said "see you soon" for sailors never say goodbye. To the 2003 St. Thomas crew of Halimeda, Thank you... 

Captain Jeff Troeltzsch
Crown Bay Marina, St Thomas, USVI
November 29, 2003

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