Well, our exuberance didn’t last. By the third day of our too-long journey to New England the autopilot crapped out again. And we were enjoying it so much! Now we’re faced with another 100 miles of ocean between us and a place to drop the anchor, and all the while we’ll have to hand steer on short watches. No more scanning the horizon then going below for a snack or a bathroom break. No more long and restful sleep. Nope. It’ll be an hour or two at a time, back and forth, until we reach Rhode Island. Rats! We are clueless as to why this thing doesn’t work, especially after getting the ram completely rebuilt. We’ve consulted (and paid) four professionals, certified factory technicians even, and here we are hand steering.
The only good news is that the wind finally filled in and we were able to raise the sails and turn off the engines for a while. The weather report says the wind will die later this evening but we’re enjoying the break from the engine noise and also gaining a little speed. Yes, we can sail faster in these winds than we can motor.
We’re just now starting to cross the last of the NYC shipping lanes but we haven’t seen a ship since last evening. We’ll be alert for subs off Montauk, though.
We survived our second night at sea much better than our first, mostly because we have an autopilot now and don’t have to steer every minute, which is absolutely exhausting depending on wind and seastate. This time around we have no wind at all and we’re motoring, which carries with it its own exhaustion factor: sound. Two diesel engines (or even one, as we did overnight) purring in your ears is like living in an airport with that constant din. Your brain takes over and filters it out, but it’s tiring to do so.
Bose to the rescue, though. A couple of years ago we used our credit card points on Bose noise canceling headphones. What a difference! They make even a long flight or unexpected airport layover bearable, and they work here on the boat, too. I spend my watches with headphones on listening to a book on my iPod nano and with the nano countdown timer set to 15 minutes. Even if I doze off the alarms wakes me and reminds me to get up, check the horizon for boats, look at the radar screen for ships or other obstructions my eyes didn’t pick up, check the chart to see where we are and make sure we’re on course, listen to the engines for any weirdness and look on deck for anything out of order. Then it’s reset the timer, restart the book and crawl under the blanket for another 15 minutes of la-la land. If I’ve had a good sleep during my off-watch I may be wide awake enough to sit at the helm for an hour or two, or like last night, lie in the corner of the cockpit and watch the last bit of the Perseid meteor show. There’s nothing in the world as beautiful as the night sky at sea.
We went into Ocean City inlet this morning and took on diesel and water. The young kid at the dock said we have a “sick” catamaran, which we take as a compliment.
As I write this Jack is napping because our watch schedule was screwed up by our stop this morning. We’re on somewhat shorter watches until this evening when we’ll go back to our regular sked. I just had a cup of coffee but it’s fighting the seasickness medication I take so I’m awake and alert, if a little droopy. Cape May is off in the distance, unseen. We’re out of sight of land again, and when I scan the horizon I see nothing but ocean. That will change as we cross the New York shipping lanes.
It’s good to be back in home waters.