2013-06 Passage to Jamestown, RI

June 10, 2013

As usual, we were finishing up lots of projects in preparation for our departure for the journey north. A final check of the weather showed that we should have favorable conditions for the next several days, but we could expect a bit of rough weather when the winds shifted to the north as we rounded Cape Hatteras. With the wind coming from the north and the stream moving north at 3 to 4 knots we could expect steep seas on the nose.

Bruce in the flybridge as we get underway

Bruce in the flybridge as we get underway

We departed from Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach at 4am on Sunday, June 2 and by 5am were in the ocean headed north. This would be Tyler’s first offshore passage aboard Shear Madness and our friend Bruce (trained on a passage last year), rounded out our 4-person crew. Our journey would cover 1000 miles and we would continue non-stop until reaching Jamestown, RI in about five days. This would be the longest continuous run or Shear Madness. During this time someone would always be assigned to be “on watch”. That person is responsible for monitoring our course, watching for traffic, performing hourly checks of the engine room, and waking the Captain (Bradley) in the event of anything unusual. During daylight hours, a watch consists of a 4-hour shift and at night a 3-hour shift. Those not on watch can sleep, relax, and work on other projects.

A car carrier passes close by

A car carrier passes close by

Our first two days were pleasant and uneventful. Our course placed us in the Gulf Stream, a warm-water current that flows northward, giving us a nice push. We averaged over ten knots, well above our normal cruising speed of 7.5-8 knots. Winds were from the south and we had following seas with a gentle roll. As we journeyed out of cell phone range, we received weather forecasts via emails over our satellite phone and from WeatherWorx, a satellite-radio weather service. We knew the winds would shift to the north and be on our nose as we approached Cape Hatteras and sure enough, they shifted right on schedule. We had an uncomfortable 18 hours as the wave height increased to 6-8 feet, with some breaking over the bow and pitching us around a little more than we would have liked. But the boat and crew were fine and soon we had passed Cape Hatteras. After that the weather turned delightful with light winds and smooth seas. The boat was covered with salt from breaking waves and spray so we were able to give her a quick washdown and inspection of the decks. (NOTE: we do not don life jackets or shoes for this, much to the dismay of the self-appointed “safety police” who watch our videos).

Bruce's mahi

Bruce’s mahi

Soon conditions were nice enough to allow us to deploy the fishing pole. We only fish if we have safe conditions to do so as bringing a fish in requires the boat to be slowed down and people to be working on the swim platform – not something to do in rough seas. Bradley had not even finished letting the line out when the first mahi-mahi was hooked! It was a beauty and soon was cleaned, vacuum sealed, and in the freezer. The line went out again and just before sunset Bruce caught the second mahi, another beauty which provided us a nice appetizer of sautéed roe completely fresh.

Attached to the mooring - the white lines are on the mooring, the black lines are ours

Attached to the mooring – the white lines are on the mooring, the black lines are ours

Soon Block Island was in sight as we approached Rhode Island. We had made such good time that we were arriving well before sunrise on Friday morning. We did not really want to arrive in the dark because we planned to pick up a mooring at Conanicut Island Marina at Jamestown. Although we have anchored countless times and picked up moorings on our previous boat, this would be our first attempt to pick up a mooring on this boat and we really didn’t want to do it in the dark, (our bow is over 12 feet from the water, which can make picking up a mooring a little more challenging than on our sailboat). But as it turned out, we could not delay our arrival and the visibility was good. Throughout the night every time we reduced the engine RPM, our SOG (speed over ground) increased, as we were catching a favorable current & tide. We finally gave up and elected to arrive at 4am. We talked through our plan and were comfortable. Using our spotlight mounted high on the deck, we identified our assigned mooring and Bradley adeptly got us in position. Working at the starboard boarding door, I picked up the mooring line with our new boat hook and Tyler fed a line through the eye and soon had it secured to our bow. (a mooring is a line attached to a permanently secured structure, such as a block of concrete, to which boats attach with a line which runs from the mooring to the boat. Moorings are like a pre-positioned anchor). No sooner had we secured our mooring than it started to rain. It turns out we had made it just in time as the wind and rain pounded us for the next 24 hours. It rained so much we did not have to do the usual post trip washdown of the boat. Tyler simply waited for it to stop and did a good chamois. Let’s just say the temperature was not quite what we had left behind in Florida! This was the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea, which had been following us up the coast, and once she had passed, we returned to pleasant weather and warmer temps.

Bradley and Kathy with Mary and Mike

Bradley and Kathy with Mary and Mike

Bruce had a flight out of Providence on Saturday so his old Marine Corps friend, KC, drove down from his home in MA to join us for dinner and an overnight stay before taking Bruce to the airport. We had a wonderful evening discussing books and the state of the world. Though we had only met KC 18 hours earlier, it seemed too soon for him to depart! Saturday also brought a visit from our RI friends Dennis and Linda, who joined us for drinks aboard Shear Madness and a wonderful dinner out in Jamestown. And Sunday brought my niece Mary from Quincy, MA along with her boyfriend Mike who we greatly enjoyed meeting. We spent a delightful day with them exploring Jamestown Harbor and catching up.

I’ve made two videos of the trip – the first is a 7-Minute Highlight version and the second is an 18-minute version with more technical details. You can click on any photo to enlarge and don’t be shy about sending us a comment/reply – we love to hear from you!

  1. #1 by Nancy Hames on June 19, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    Remember to come and see us in the Harraseeket River, Freeport, Maine. Nancy Hames


  2. #2 by Anonymous on June 12, 2013 - 3:07 pm

    How muh fuel did you use on your trip up? Do you always fill from a tanker truck found that to be interesting must be a good cost saying by doing it that way. Watched your progress always fun to go arround Cape Hatteras Really enjoy the videos and of course your narrative is always a great read.


  3. #3 by Carol Trautschold on June 11, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    Beautiful description and great pictures. Thank you for keeping me updated.

    Carol T.


  4. #4 by Andy on June 11, 2013 - 9:48 am

    Great videos, fishing looked nice. I did read some of the comments from the “safety police”. I am a boat owner & fisherman of many years. One thing you will notice is that when you try to gaff or net a fish off the stern with the boat in gear, the prop wash makes it difficult. What we do on our sportfish boats when trolling: 1. Leave boat in fwd gear at idle, 2. Angler moves to fwd end of cockpit along the side of the boat, 3. As the boat is in gear the fish will move along side of the boat, the leader person guides the fish along side. 3. Gaff/net the fish from the cockpit along side the boat. In this way you have no prop wash/turbulence to deal with and no one has to leave the cockpit. Keep up the videos, great stuff.


  5. #5 by David Venning on June 11, 2013 - 1:08 am

    Hi there Kathy & Bradley

    Thanks for your latest update from SHEAR MADNESS together with pictorial record tis good to see you are on the move again.

    I recently returned from a 2 week trip to The Whitsundays for business reasons and to catch some warmer weather esp. winds ! Give me a coupla weeks to regain control here and well bring you up-to-date re Marly & me. sufficeth to say we both be hale & hearty esp. Marly B. Cheers DV



  6. #6 by jerrytollison on June 10, 2013 - 8:34 pm

    Glad you guys arrived safely. We were worried about the tropical storm but see you missed her. Your pics in Jamestown made me nostalgic. We lived in RI for 6 years and still have friends that have a home on Narragansett bay.

    Jerry Tollison jerrytollison@charter.net 864-901-5587

    Follow my blog: http://jerrytollison.blogspot.com/


  7. #7 by Anonymous on June 10, 2013 - 6:31 pm

    Glad you all made it safely… Thank you for posting. Safe travels… Cheers. Jeff


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