We left St. Pierre on a dreary Thursday afternoon headed towards Shelburne on the southern tip of Nova Scotia some 350 miles distant with a weather forecast that predicted very light winds for 12 hours from the south, becoming stronger which on Friday night was to turn to 20 – 25 knots from the north. After that the winds would diminish and become sort of easterly. With the exception of the start, it looked like a reasonable weather forecast and our plan was to head west with the light wind and then south west along the coast of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia…
Initially there was indeed no wind and we motored for 9 hours until we were able to sail and with the wind coming from the north (somewhat unexpectedly). It was quite a boring ride and the swells were significant, so not very comfortable.
On Friday we decided that since our forecast tools were not the best, we ought to be cautious so Laurie suggested that we at least prepare the storm sail. We have a dedicated (movable) stay for the storm sail which we have never used (and I suspect the previous owners didn’t either). So we rigged the stay and prepared to hank on the sail – we’ve never hanked on a sail either – but have seen countless boats with sails hanked on and bagged at the bottom of the stay, ready for deployment – so we figured we’d have a go. It’s a good thing we started early – as it took us a while to figure everything out – including re-bagging the sail into a larger bag – for easier deployment should the need arise. By the time we’d finished, the wind was up and the swells were getting uncomfortable. Working on the foredeck in these conditions is not my cup of tea.
Shortly afterwards, we reefed the main, quickly followed by changing from Genoa to Jib, followed by second reef in main, followed by third reef in main (never deployed that either!), followed by raising the storm jib, followed by complete dousing of the main! Wow! We turned the boat due south to run with the wind which was now a constant 38 – 40 knots, gusts to 45+. We’d done pretty much all we could and so went below and shut the doors!
For 9 hours the winds maintained 38 – 42 knots, finally dropping to an easy 32 knots as morning arrived. The waves had built to 4 – 5 meters and we were running with them. The boat was maintain 8 – 10 knots – fast but in control – though at times we’d take a wave on the beam with a massive crash and lurch to port which was unnerving to say the least. And we’re planning to head to Patagonia????
The storm took us well south of our intended route, so on Saturday we had to come west, but fortunately the seas had calmed completely (we find this amazing!) and the sun was out and we had a reasonable sail in until the wind died again and the engine was once again called for.
We made it to Shelburne in one piece on Sunday afternoon, took a mooring and started drinking heavily!!!
Plan is to leave Shelburne today (Tuesday) with a forecast of light winds and big seas, headed for Newport. It’ll be an uncomfortable sail, but hopefully not too scary!