An update by guest blogger Rolland Trowbridge
It has been a bit since Rachael has updated her blog and she is in the busy orientation part of her job, not to mention getting used to a new town so I am stepping up to the plate. The pictures and writing are all my fault.
Rachael has now sailed just about the entire eastern coast of North America, some of it twice when she delivered her previous boat, Dances with Wind, to Nova Scotia. All in one year.
Several parts of her trip from Newfoundland required open ocean jumps of over three hundred miles, most of which she did by herself.
Twenty five or so years ago such a trip by a solo female sailor would end up in the national newspapers. Now, solo females circle the globe so I guess that the average person might think that this type of trip is just commonplace now. Let me give you some perspective. Around 3000 boats go from the Northeast USA down to warmer climates each year. I only know of three solo females to have made the trip. My guess is that less than a dozen solo females make this trip every decade. The oceans that Rachael sailed this summer are known as some of the most treacherous anywhere in the world. The readers of this blog need to know that what Rachael has accomplished this year is nothing short of astounding. Ocean sailing is not like driving in a car where when the weather gets bad you can just pull of the highway. As soon as you leave port, you are committed to whatever comes up. Rachael has handled weather, without complaining, that other bloggers would turn into a white knuckle stories. As she was going through the gulf of Main, I was reading the blog of a sailing couple on the same trip at the same time that made it sound like Armageddon.
One advantage Rachael does have is her vessel, a Contessa 26, "Chanty" is one of the best small boats to take out in the ocean. The Contessa 26 handles bad weather and high winds with stride. They have proven themselves as capable circumnavigators and I have never heard of a Contessa 26 being lost at sea. They are tougher than most of the people in them.
Another advantage Rachael has is over a decade of sailing experience, much of it on Lake Michigan which is really a small ocean that can get very angry in short order. The last two years Rachael has logged over 3000 miles sailing alone. She knows how to handle her vessel. When I did the jump with her from Ny, Ny to Norfolk, VA (about 300 miles) it was nice to sail with her because I didn't have to worry about her when I was off watch. I would get up and the sails would be set perfectly. Rachael has become an accomplished solo sailor.
I was fortunate to sail with Rachael from New York City, to Charleston, South Carolina. Since her last post we were mostly forced to sail in the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway), a canal that goes the entire East Coast from Norfolk, VA down to the Keys and around to Mobile, Alabama. The ICW is nice if you are retired with lots of time, money for fuel, and don't actually like sailing. For Rachael and I it is like being stuck in the slow lane in a traffic jam while the other lanes are zipping by. The southwest winds just kept piling up keeping us stuck in the waterway. I would get up at five AM and get the boat ready to go in the morning and leave at the first possible light and we would motor until we had absolutely no light left in the day to see by. Most of the ICW does not have lit channel markers. With this method we could make 65, maybe 70 miles if we pushed it, which we did the night before Charleston. In Charleston we fixed some deck leaks and did some minor rigging repairs. The next morning I stood at the dock with tears in my eyes while I watched Rachael's little red boat sail away from me. I got in my rental car and made my flight out just in time.
Rachael sailed nonstop from Charleston, SC, making Daytona, FL in about 48 hours - about mid morning. She navigated the tricky Daytona inlet, stopped at a marina and got fuel, got someone to take her to the closest West Marine and pick up more charts, and then kept going. She managed to get 20 miles further down the canal before dark. This after two days nonstop at sea. The phrase "wooden boats with iron men" needs to be changed to "plastic boat with iron woman" Rachael then managed to single hand her boat from sun up to sun down for the next five days going down the ICW, and across Florida through the Okeechobe canal. At the end of the fifth day, she didn't stop but went out into the Gulf of Mexico as the sun was setting and sailed all night to arrive in Sarasota, FL as the sun was rising the next morning. She started work at 0730 the next morning. This, my friends, is an amazing accomplishment; a feat of incredible endurance and skill.
Rachael has been spending the last few days taking the required testing and training before she starts work in Florida. She is also looking for a new bicycle and getting herself settled in a new town. Her boat is being turned from a sailing machine into a living space - a sometimes frustrating process for any sailor.
Rachael will write an update just as soon as she gets settled in.
Every one who reads this should leave a congratulatory comment. Amen.
Rolland writing for Rachael