2003 Travel Notes

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Michael Freeman's 1960 yawl-rigged Triton Goose in the Azores

On 6 January 2003 Mei and I flew to La Gomera Island in the Canary Islands to pick up Goose, another Pearson Triton, to deliver back to the US east coast via the Cape Verdes and the Caribbean. Part of Goose's journey to the Canary Islands from New York is covered in my archived article Azores High. The first thing I did when we got to the boat was remove the mizzen sail and boom as it interfered with the newly installed Cape Horn windvane. We very nearly needed that mizzen on the 5th day out when the port spreader and attached shrouds fell off the mast just as I was going forward to put a 3rd reef in the main. I made several trips up the mast to set up jury rigging and continued sailing under a small jib alone for the final two days to Sal Is. in the Cape Verdes. Having mast steps saved the stick from being tossed overboard as they allowed me to instantly get up the mast with support lines. Even under the crippled rig we covered the 745 nm to Sal in a brief 7 days. The spreaders had been attached with a single 3/8 bolt which sheared off at the hard point where it rested on a thin stainless spreader socket. (Tritons came with 2 spreader socket bolts but this was not the original rig.) At Sal Island I replaced the broken bolt with one of 14 mm (9/16) and had the thin sockets reinforced by welding thicker lower shroud tangs to them. The 2nd leg of the voyage was 2,359 miles to St. Maartin which we covered in just under 19 days for an average of 125 nm per day. Despite the lack of roller furling and the persistent sloppy cross swell, it was an embarrassingly easy passage no calms, no motoring, no beating, no winds above 25 knots, plenty of dorado and tuna chomping on our fishing line. The windvane steered the entire way and I lounged about for 15 continuous days on an uninterrupted starboard tack. We sailed conservatively, usually goose-winged with the #2 working jib poled out opposite the main with a reef or two as needed to keep the boat speed in the 4-6 knot range. In short, an idyllic trade winds passage.

From St. Maartin we made an overnight sail across the Anegada Passage to Tortola, BVI. Trellis Bay in east Tortola is a fine anchorage, though mostly filled with a minefield of closely spaced charter boats on $25 per night moorings. We squeezed our way in and anchored in 5 feet of water just off the end of the dinghy dock at the Loose Mongoose restaurant/bar. On 25 March we departed BVI intending to sail up the eastern side of the Bahamas to Georgia but persistent headwinds from a stalling cold front a few days later caused us to alter course to the west towards Luperon in the Dominican Republic where we arrived after 4 days. Luperon is a favorite port for us and we'd gladly detour there at the drop of a hat, or in this case the drop of a tooth filling, since a week previously Mei lost a filling that was put in last year by a Luperon dentist for US$20. Heck, maybe it was still under warranty (it wasn't). Mei resisted my offer to make an emergency epoxy filling from our boat repair kit. We stayed a week in the DR visiting friends from our previous visits and awaiting a weather window to head north. We were getting behind schedule so despite the weather forecasts predicting several days of NE winds up to 25 knots, which would be slightly ahead of the beam, we carried on and made the 200 nm to Mayaguana Island in a romping quick 36 hours. The next day we continued threading our way through the Bahamas for another 200 nm to Cat island making our fastest 24 hour run of the trip so far, covering 149 nm at an average speed of over 6 knots. We carried a double reefed main and #2 jib with winds 70 to 80 degrees off the bow at 20-25 knots. We waited out another cold front passage in Cat Island, seeing no other sailboats (they were all apparently herded together in nearby Georgetown, Exuma) and then made a day sail to Little San Salvador Island which is uninhabited aside from the hundreds of day-tripping tourists from the cruise ships which bought the entire island for their circus-like playground.

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Goose anchored in Smith Bay, Cat Is., Bahamas

From Little Salvador we had a brutal beat up the windward coast of Eleuthera - the kind of day that makes you promise your wife you will never go sailing again. Did I really say that? Of course, as soon as we turned downwind to enter the anchorage at Royal Island all oaths were forgotten. From there we sailed four days nonstop heading first west through the Providence Channels and then north along the Florida coast. Catching the Gulf Stream enabled us to cover 150 nm in 24 hours despite the light to nonexistant winds. On April 21 we entered the channel to St. Simons Island and docked Goose alongside her sistership Atom. Later her owner came down and sailed her back to New York.

On this voyage our friends were able to view an updated chart of our latest position by going to the Maritime Mobile Service Net's ShipTrak page, entering ZS5JSB in the call sign field in the top of the page and clicking Go.

(Our delivery of Goose is covered in more detail in the July 2004 Cruising World magazine article, Bringing Goose Home.) For more photos see Atlantic Voyages 2003.