We’re busy hosting both sets of parents here in Hope Town, so no time to blog. I’m posting the letter we submitted for admission into the Manhattan Yacht Club’s Blue Water Society. It covers our trip through the Bahamas last January.
Lord of the oceans, monarch of the seas, maker of the waves and ruler of all that passes upon your waters, it is with great respect and humility that we bid for your consideration of our induction into Manhattan Sailing Club’s Blue Water Society.
Our bid comes during a memorable winter, one when North Cove successfully combatted the snow, icebergs and deep freeze of a Polar Vortex and the mighty s/v Arabella sailed right through it with frozen lines and snow covered decks.
Captained by MSC Skipper Jason Delisky, with first mate MSC Skipper TJ Shea and crew Kendra Matthews, s/v Blue Moon set sail for the Bahamas shortly after the sailing season ended at the Club, a yarn TJ has already spun for you.
s/v Blue Moon is a 38 foot Island Packet, a cutter rigged sloop with a 54 foot mast. She displaces an awesome 21,000 pounds dry, yet draws just 4 feet, 7 inches. She sailed around the Bahamas from late November until early February with a crew compliment of just two, captained by Jason along with first mate MSC Skipper Brita Siepker. From the docks of Bimini to the harbor of Hope Town, Blue Moon sailed to twenty islands, through several bodies of water, and covered over 1,000 nautical miles. Jason and Brita took turns helming through nine overnight sails out of the sight of land, some from early morning the first day to nearly sundown the second. Jason whiled away the late
night hours listening to music and jumping around the cockpit. Brita read books and made endless lists. The tales are numerous and so we offer but a few of our more memorable adventures.
Brita’s first overnight sail, and first Blue Water sailing at the helm, was on an overnight from Bimini to the Berry Islands. Just as land was falling below the horizon and the sun was setting, Jason came up from the cabin with a drill in hand, to announce he was going to drill a hole in a hold below the waterline to drain water that had mysteriously collected in the hold. Drill baby, drill. Water drained, Brita let out a sign of relief and went back to her watch.
Brita put her strange sleeping patterns (after years working for Japanese clients) to work, and took the 9pm-12am and 3am-6am watches. Stars fell from the sky, bioluminescents shone in the water, and the wide-open North Atlantic Ocean roared. When land emerged under a pink sky just before sunrise, Brita thought it must be a mirage.
On an overnight from Chub Cay on the south end of the Berry Islands to Norman’s Cay on the north end of the Exuma Islands, s/v Blue Moon faced the worst seas of the winter – 10+ foot swells, and 25 knots of wind with gusts over 30 knots. As we sailed down Tongue of the Ocean, Blue Moon pitched, rolled and yawed. A wave broke over the port bow and crashed into the cockpit, and Jason dodged it and taunted the ocean; seconds later Blue Moon scooted her stern into the waves and a second wave crashed over – Blue Moon and the sea were in cahoots!
On an overnight from Grand Bahama to Bimini, with Jason at the helm, we were faced with the most commercial traffic of the winter. Luckily Jason and Brita are seasoned sailors of the New York Harbor, where sailing is a bit like dodge ball or bumper cars. Of the many ships that crossed our bow that night, two stand out: the Disney cruise ship Imagination and a black cargo ship of ominous proportion. The former hailed us on the VHF (“This is Disney Imagination calling the sailing vessel off my starboard bow. What are your intentions?”) and politely altered course a couple of degrees to let us pass her bow. The latter approached and departed both fast and silent, quite the feat for a 1,000+ foot long cargo ship with over a 100 foot beam and over 40 feet of draft doing over 15 knots.
Later that night, with Brita at the helm, s/v Blue Moon found herself in the Gulf Stream. With over 15 knots on her beam, s/v Blue Moon came to an abrupt halt from over 6 knots to under 2 knots, and the water temperature shot up from the mid 70s to the high 80s. Being accustomed to shallow water and near scrapes with the sea bottom,
Brita first checked the depth gauges, and double checked with spot lights, then checked the charts for the distance from Miami, and realized a few degrees to port could probably pull them out of the stream and back to more favorable waters.
On an overnight from Nassau to the Abaco Islands, just as the sun was setting, unchartered breakers emerged off our port side, several miles off shore and just a few hundred feet off our course. It made for a long, stressful night, wondering what else might be out there. When we finally saw land, and were pulling into the North Bar Channel, with 8 foot breakers hitting the reef just feet from either side of the boat, and 20 knots of wind and 8 feet waves thrusting us forward, the main sheet tackle broke. The mainsail and boom launched forward to the port side shrouds with block and tackle in tow. After furling the main like an Indy pit crew changes tires we passed the breakers to safety under genoa before making repairs.
Aboard our lone ship, each of us spent several hours standing solo watches, in the twilight of night, in the middle of the ocean. Over the miles put under our keel, we were attacked by flying squid, accompanied by dolphins and circled by sharks. We survived several broken parts (stuffing box, main sheet tackle, water maker, hatch latches), and fixed nearly all of them underway. We sailed through gale force winds, yawed over walls of waves and combatted ocean currents that make Hell Gate look like a kiddy pool.
King Neptune, we thank you for your benevolence during our voyages and humbly request that you consider our bid for induction in the Blue Water Society.
Captain Jason Delisky and First Mate Brita Siepker, s/v Blue Moon