Captain’s Log – GO SLOW : Annapolis to Key West

Following the Seawind Key West Rally that has happened from 3-6 December 2020, we would like to share the Captain’s Log of GO SLOW – the Seawind 1160 Lite journey history on the sea from Annapolis to Key West.

Day 1 : Sailing Out of the Chesapeake Bay

Ahoy mateys! Super stoked to be back with another edition of The Captain’s Log! This week I’m delivering GO SLOW, a 2019 Seawind 1160 lite from the Sail Away Catamarans charter fleet in Annapolis, MD to the Sail Away Key West charter fleet in Key West, FL. I’m very familiar with this boat model in general and this boat specifically after a summer of captaining her around the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve delivered two other Seawind 1160 lites down the Atlantic Coast before so this feels like I’m about to go on a road trip with a familiar friend to some of our favorite spots. Can’t wait to get out!

My mate Owen got to my house about 0800. It’s our 2nd east coast Seawind 1160 delivery together. I knew he was as excited as I was to get back out on the open water. Plan is to load up his suburban and have my wife Rachelle give us a ride to meet the boat at the marina. I was finishing my last packing and final checklist before my final pack move (take half the clothes with me and twice the cash) when he got there. We got all the gear loaded up and started to drive to the boat. As we were leaving the neighborhood, a large tree branch came crashing down just in front of the car and exploded into a thousand pieces! We missed driving right under the tree falling by about 5-10 seconds so once again my “Wait, where’s my damn mask!” trip back into the house strikes on the side of good again!

We got to the docks to load all the gear and meet up with the ret of the crew. Along side me mate, I’ll be sailing and swapping stories beside Johnny Cassett and his father John. To be perfectly honest, I’m not always a fan of sailing deliveries with the boat owners on board. It’s not at all that I don’t enjoy their personal company or that now I feel a need to dial up the professionalism or something. I just find there is a conflict of interest within me of the mission when an owner is on board. I find that I want to cater more to the owner’s comfort and plans so they feel the trip is a vacation on their boat instead of the mission of get this boat to her destination as quickly and safely as possible. All of that said, I felt a killer vibe with both these gentlemen from our preliminary meet up and I was excited to get on the seas with them to trade bad jokes and tall tales. John is from West By-God Virginia like myself so I knew we had a bunch to talk about.

I had completed my pre-departure checklist the day before but still wanted to go through a few things before we left. Good news was we had plenty of time to kill. I didn’t want to leave before 0900 at the earliest so we would hit the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at Virginia Beach 21 hours later as the sun was rising at 0600. The wind was blowing 25+ knots when we got to the boat so getting off would be a little trickier than normal. Quick rule I use is 5kts = 6mph so it was blowing about 30+ miles per hour, which is pretty strong for close quarter maneuvering a boat around in a marina. But with my comfort level from handling this boat so many times before we decided to make a move. We got the boat setup to leave our slip and head to the fuel dock for a fill up. The wind thankfully was blowing hard form the west in the direction of our bow. That make’s it easier to control with the engines as we back down away from the dock to turn out towards the river. But with a short miscommunication between myself and Owen, we found our bowline detached from the dock and the boat drifting backwards before I was ready at the helm. I rushed back to the wheel and was able to power the boat back to the piling and reattach the bow. Shit. “Not the best start to the trip, guys” I thought as we all laughed and took a deep breath. We then rediscussed the plan one more time to get on the same page. Once all in agreement, we cast the stern line and then the bowline and driftedr4r away from the dock.

As we drifted back from our slip into the marina fairway I began to find good balance in the controls with the higher winds. Once I could get her stopped and pointed where I wanted, I started the sideways crab walk to get out of the marina. Imagine the boat being pointed due west into the wind and we have to got due south to get out of our slip. In light winds, you can just aim that direction and steer the boat out but with winds this strong that would just blow us into the boats on the west downwind side of us. So we set up the boat facing diagonally SE and slowly crab walk down the lane. This boat has gasoline outboard engines instead of diesel inboards so the torque is a bit different. It takes a little more throttle than the diesels but they responded great for me. We wiggle our way down the fairway and around to the fuel dock. We get all of our fluids topped off, cast off all of our dock-lines right at noon and started our week long journey to Key West!

Once we got into the river the winds were solid above 25kts. We tried putting up the main to sail out of the river but we kept wind-vaning the boat to upwind and couldn’t get her to turn downwind to leave the river. And since it would have been a straight downwind run to sail out of the South River with multiple gybes, I decided to just drop the main and motor out of the river. Once we got out and had more room to get her setup, we raised the main to the 3rd reef, set the 3rd reef in the jib and took off south on a nice beam reach wavering about 7.5kts with top speeds of about 10.5!

Making killer time, we got treated to our first of many killer sunsets. That’s something I just never get tired of. I bet more than half of the pics in my phone are of sunsets and sunrises. I took a sweet time lapse of the sunset as we sailed down the Bay. My first night shift would be at 2200 so I laid down to snag a quick nap. We would have a nearly full waning gibbous moon left over from the blue moon on Halloween so we should have great visibility all night to navigate the channel markers as we head to Virginia Beach and out into the Atlantic. Finished my shift at about 1am on Tuesday morning and then crashed out for a few hours. Gonna be a long day heading to sea at dawn.

Captain Scrub out.

Source: Shawn Owen of Chronic Sailing

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