Blog

2008 Georgia

Including round trip passages to the Virgin Islands

This year as always, most of our time is happily consumed by boats. Early in the year we helped prepare an Alberg 30 and her owner for a planned circumnavigation and assisted a fellow Triton owner get started on his first solo voyage across the Atlantic. Sharing our specialized knowledge in fitting out small voyaging sailboats has been deeply satisfying, particularly when our past customers, now good friends, report back from distant ports after a successful passage.

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The Alberg 30, Salsa departing Brunswick on a planned circumnavigation.

 

 

This spring Mei and I also fit out a Catalina 320 here in Brunswick and delivered the boat nonstop to the Virgin Islands in 13 days. This modern, wing-keeled, spade rudder design was not the type of boat I would normally choose for an extended offshore passage or recommend novice sailors attempt. Even so, with careful preparations we enjoyed a reasonably pleasant passage. Aside from a broken auto-pilot (I had a spare aboard that I installed after two days of hand-steering), we had no serious breakdowns. The owner is now sailing the boat among the Virgins where he currently lives. An article describing our preparations and passage is in November 2008 Blue Water Sailing magazine article A Passage to the Islands.

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Mei trims sail on the Catalina 320 delivery to the Virgin islands.

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Wing keel and spade rudder of the Catalina 320 made for a constant uneasy feeling on this long offshore passage. She did hold together well though.

The day after landfall at St. Thomas we drove across the island and joined the owners of the Liberty 49 we had sailed to the islands last winter and brought her back to Brunswick in nine days. That 1,200 mile nonstop passage was as pleasant as it could have been. We carried the spinnaker about half the way, hitting 8-9 knots regularly on the GPS and without a single drop of saltwater landing on deck. You don't believe me? I don't blame you. It's fantastic, but true, that we sailed fast over open water well over a thousand miles in seas that never once slapped the hull sending up spray in that rude way I'm accustomed to on smaller boats. That the boat has over four-foot freeboard at it lowest point was as important a factor as the calm following seas in our dry passage. We sat as high and dry as if lumbering over the Sahara on a camel for nine days. In contrast to a desert crossing we sipped iced drinks, barbecued fresh caught mahi mahi on the afterdeck, and enjoyed daily showers courtesy of the 33 gallon per hour watermaker I'd installed a few months earlier. To top it off there were no equipment failures which is a rare event on a boat with so many systems to maintain. This rare taste of luxury comes at a price and I'm still inclined to recommend a small simple boat for anyone starting out cruising.

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The 49' Liberty, Windstar, that we sailed to the Virgin Islands last December and brought back to Brunswick, GA this May. I put in several months work refitting this 38,000 lb cutter built in Taiwan in 1986.

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We make fast progress back to Brunswick carrying the new cruising spinnaker from Mack Sails day and night in light following winds.

Since September I've been assisting two local sailors, a father and step-son, fit out and upgrade boats they just bought this year. The father has a Southern Cross 31 (after downsizing from a Vagabond 39 to something more practical for shorthanded voyages) and his step-son has a Pearson Triton (a sensible upgrade from a Soverel 30 he was lucky enough to sell on ebay). They both plan to sail locally and later make extended cruises.

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Frank Pearson checks the sail inventory of his newly purchased Southern Cross 31.

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Bo Mann inspects the mainsail reefing gear aboard Salty, Pearson Triton #503.