Posted by: tflana | October 10, 2014

First Overnight Sail, Yikes

Brian tied in at mast taking the main down in 30 knot winds.

Brian tied in at mast taking the main down in 30 knot winds.

Anyone who has asked me what my biggest fear was about cruising was my first overnight sail along the New Jersey coast.  I was only told terrible things about it.  So I figured if I could do this part of the trip then the rest was going to be easy, well, I needed to get through the 24 hours it was going to take to sail from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

The decision to sail on Wednesday morning was based on the weather forecasts for coastal New Jersey.  All looked favorable for a good sail, wind was predicted to be coming from the west at 15-20 knots, we can handle that, Scout LOVES that kind of wind.  So at 8:30a on Wednesday, we pulled up anchor and headed to the fuel dock to start the journey.  Leaving Sandy Hook was a challenge but we had the current with us and were able to round the hook with only minor issues.  The sail from there was great, we had some good winds, Scout was loving it, Brian and I thought we got this.  Pickles and Phinneus were already stating to us how very crazy their parents were and decided to stay below deck.

During the day, we saw a couple of fun things.  First we think it was a shark off of our starboard side, had a dorsal fin and was about 8 feet long then we were riding the waves with schools of fish, it made the waves look polka dotted!  All good, this is what the cruising life is supposed to be like.

By 5 pm we realized that the conditions were too strong to cook, so peanut butter and jelly was in order for dinner.  Next overnight sail needs to have better plans for meals.

Through most of the sail, our main and jib sails were reefed (meaning that the full sail was not out, and gave us more control of the boat) and our mizzen sail was out to stabilize us. Things were good, and we at this point were still planning on making the sail all the way down to the Chesapeake Bay, about 48 hours of sailing time because of the favorable winds.

Cape May Sunset

Cape May Sunset

The sunset was gorgeous, and we were sailing during the full moon!  All good, right?  I figured I would just insert Brian’s log entry here to let everyone know how he was handling it.  “As night began, the west wind dropped to less than 10 knots.  Took one reef out of the main.  Found many tugs towing barges in NJ but are all well lit and you get used to the long tow lines.  Around 2200 wind suddenly increased to 30 knots and knocked us down a bit.  Wind varied to the NW, furled the jib half way and was still overpowered but at least in control.  After an hour the wind shifted back to 10 knots.  Unfurled the jib, kept main with 1 reef and mizzen.  Around 0400 again wind suddenly increased 5 miles past Atlantic City this time over 30 knots.  After being overpowered for an hour, we dosed the main altogether and started the engine and kept the reefed jib and mizzen up.  Motor sailed until daybreak around 0600 when winds again subsided to around 10 knots.  Very wet and at times scary night passage.  Hope we see few more of those.”

Brian was amazing and I was ok, would have preferred not be doing in that wind but we chose to refit Scout because of how well she handles those conditions.  The port toerail was in the water most of the time, waves were breaking over the bow every 10 seconds and we did have water come into the forward hatch (problem since fixed).  The dogs were not dealing well with the conditions at all.  At midnight, I went down below and laid down on the cabin sole with the 2 of them cuddled in with me, Brian let us stay there unless I needed to go up and help with the sails.  It is one thing for Brian and I to make the decision to sail in those conditions, but there is no way to prepare these little guys for the experience.

At sunrise, I made the decision that we were not going to continue on and called for a slip in Cape May.  We needed to see the condition of the boat and make sure the dogs were good on firm ground again.  Surprisingly, Phinneus was still demanding his breakfast at 5:30am yesterday while we were in the middle of the worst weather, gotta love a dachshund!  South Jersey Marina has been wonderful to us, facilities are amazing and walking distance to most provisioning items.  Looks like the weather is keeping us here for another night, and yes, we have decided to do another overnight sail along the Delmarva Peninsula most likely leaving tomorrow morning.  We wanted to go up Delaware Bay and into the Chesapeake Bay from the north but the tides and currents would not be with us to make that journey a success.

I will make sure sandwiches are pre-made, an extra thermos of coffee brewed and Pickles set up under the dinette instead of under the V-berth, oh yeah, more pee pads needed too!

Pickles and Phinneus enjoying a very calm marina slip and sunshine to catch up on their much needed sleep

Pickles and Phinneus enjoying a very calm marina slip and sunshine to catch up on their much needed sleep


  1. Glad you made it safe & sound!!! I know I wouldn’t have been so brave!

  2. thanks for the updates, sounds like quite the experience!!! you are in my thoughts and prayers, enjoy!!!! safe travels!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: