Tsatzsue's Vineyard Sound Crawl - 6/18/15

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Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:21 am
Boat_year: 1977
Boat Make: Macgregor
Boat_Model: V25
Boat_Name: Tsatzsue
DSC_number: 0
Location: Charlton, MA

Tsatzsue's Vineyard Sound Crawl - 6/18/15

Post by Tsatzsue » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:28 am

Father’s Day 2015 Sailing Report:
Crew: Tony Pino, Tom McKoan, Ken B
Trip dates: 6/18-6/21
Itinerary: Sail From fair Haven to Hadley Harbor Thursday night to make Woods Hole for the slack am tide. Then sail Vineyard Sound. Ports to vary with the weather. Return to Fair Haven on Sunday.
• Launch: Hoppey’s Landing, Fair Haven, MA (see my ramp report)

We got to Hoppey’s at 6:45 pm after having to stop for some last minute supplies. Rig up and dingy lashed to the deck we launched at 7:30. It was beautiful out so we lifted the pop top. I elected to hoist the sails once we left the harbor due to the multiple rocks and obstructions but that had no effect. We ran aground 5 minutes after leaving the dock. The area had definitely shoaled since I was last there. We were hugging the red inner harbor buoy but still hit the shallows. Beware stay far right of the buoy when leaving the harbor.

We cranked the keel up but it was so shallow the rudder pulled out of the bottom pintel. At this point it was best to motor to deeper water before popping it back in.

Once back in place we hoisted the sails and set sail to Hadley Harbor. It was a great run with the wind on the starboard beam. Beautiful sunset.

• Hadley Harbor 6/18/15
We arrived at Hadley at approximately 10:00 pm. My new battery powered LED search light worked mint. A couple cocktails and laughs on a mooring and we were soon sound asleep. Certain moorings are free in the Harbor. Provided by the Forbs family.

• Woods Hole 6/19/15
We roused and navigated Woods Hole at 7:00 am slack tide, setting sail once through. Breakfast and coffee to be had at Lake Tashmoo, Martha’s Vineyard. We sailed right through the channel to our anchorage deep in the lake. The side slip at the mouth had me a little concerned because I was really close hauled at this point and didn’t want to stall. We were good!

• Lake Tashmoo, MV 6/19/15
Blew up the dingy, coffee and an egg sandwich and off to Tisbury. It was too early for The Black Dog so we decided to head back to the boat for a swim and a beer. A financially wiser choice!!
We set the sails, pulled the anchor and sailed out of the harbor dingy in tow. Destination - Tarpaulin Cove. The wind was on our nose so we had to make a few tacks to get there. There were a surprising lack of sailboats out. Great jazz on and a great lazy sail.

• Tarpaulin Cove, Naushon Isle. 6/19/15
Only two sailboats in the cove, Flat water like a mill pond. Tom swam to the beach while Tony and I put the non functioning motor on the dingy. Discovered the non functioning part after we got it on.
We explored the beach. Beware of large piles of cow manure!! Yes there are cows roaming this island. Even the beach.
Once back to the boat a big steak dinner was in order. Destination tomorrow Menemsha, MV
Great perked coffee and off to Menemsha. Sunny clear and windy. White caps on the way over. It was blowing 10-15 with an occasional blast.
• Menemsha Harbor, MV 6/20/15

We dropped the sails and motored into the harbor. This place is really congested. We tied up to a bulkhead dock just past the left turn to the inner harbor. Hailed the harbor master and walked to town. We got some ice and some really great scallops at The Bite. Best we ever had!! The lady was riot. This was originally going to be our destination for the night but the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill was rolling in and the forecast was iffy. I made the decision depart to Cuttyhunk. One less body of water to travel in bad weather seemed to be a good plan to me. Boaters beware the current in the channel entering the harbor is horrific. Over 4 knots and very narrow. Watch the tide. So we left the Harbor and set sail. We flew wing on wing all the way to Cuttyhunk at hull speed 6.75 knotts. I was flying my 150 Genoa and full main. We dropped the sails just before Canapitsit channel.

• Cuttyhunk Island 6/20/15

We set anchor in the pond ….twice. Holding is bad with all the eel grass. Once set up we rowed in to tour the island. Great view from the top of the hill. A helicopter actually did a touch and go on the beach. Really cool. The old propeller from the wind generator that I remember as a kid was laid out on the top. Lots of weather checking. At this point it looked like it was going to be a rain event and not a game changer so big dinner and in the bunk. 4:00 am weather check told a different story. Small Craft Warning starting at 7:00 am till 4:00 pm. Navionics showed the wind forecast picking up at 1:00 pm. So team meeting at 6:00 and we agreed to go for it and beat the heavy winds coming in the afternoon. Battened down the hatches and lashed the dingy to the deck. secured all contents, donned our rain gear and life jackets and hit the channel. I reduced the main to 2/3 and set my small jib. I hoisted before we left the safety of the channel and checked the length of my jib sheets. I had remembered that they seemed short and have a habit of knotting them so that they do not fly out of the cleat if released. Sure enough they did not let the sail out all the way so I had the guys pull out the knots. This simple step proved to be our saving grace.
White caps were already cranking and the winds were a steady 20. The Tsatz held herself well and we were cranking at hull speed with the wind in the on the starboard beam. We were heading straight back to Fairhaven on a direct line. Just what I wanted. The seas weren’t that bad at this point. 2-3 feet but manageable and the wind was steady not really gusty. At about 8:00 am we noticed that the horizon was getting really dark and that the clouds were coming in from the south. They seemed quite a ways off still but that was surely not the case. Within 2 minutes torrential rain started to fall and the winds instantly blasted. From what I could find on weather history yesterday they reached 45 knots, possibly more in gusts. Yes 45!! It was like a switch had been thrown.
I instinctively rounded up into the blast and let the jib out as far as could and eased the main out to the point of luffing. There was really no choice. The Tsatz had a mind of her own for a moment. I needed to keep making way to so we did not stall. I knew that losing forward motion and steerage would be catastrophic. The visibility was now 100 feet or less and the water was being blow into trails by the deafening wind. Every time the jib filled, which was about twice a second, the mast would pump violently. I was fearful that we would lose the rig. I tried to pay out the rest of the line but it shot through the block instantly. Now the jib was straight out with both sheets flapping. I was waiting for it to disintegrate. The lines tangled together and actually made a ball that winging around like a ball and chain at the hand of Hercules. That alone was reason to just let it fly. Going on deck was completely out of the question. I held our course keeping the main just full enough to keep making way. At this point you physically could not move. You had to hold on with both hands. Sometimes both on the tiller! The boat had a good posture and was not healing to the extreme with just the shortened main. If ever in questionable weather I will fly this configuration for sure. This went on for about 15-20 minutes. The question was what was going to quit first…the boat or the squall.
The Boat won. It wasn’t until we could have a conversation that we realized the worst was over. The weather slowly got back to the steady 20-25 but now the seas had kicked up. The 2-3 was now an easy 3-5. Bigger as we entered the mouth of the harbor.
The Tsatzsue is A Macgregor V25 and has a hull rating of 6.75 knots. During the squall we were doing between 7 and 10. At one point just as the squall was easing we pushed to and held a steady 11.5! The fastest she has ever gone. To be honest she was as solid as a rock surfing down the waves. We made it from Cuttyhunk to Fairhaven in two hours. That is from anchor up to lines on the dock. FAST!!!!
Not until we got into the sheltered water of the harbor did we drop the sails. The jib was a Chinese puzzle to sort out and in surprisingly good shape. Definitely salvageable.
The morale of this one is if in doubt do not head out. Staying another day at anchor would have been fine if we knew what was ahead. You just never know. We were totally ready for the worst however. Our pre sail check that morning included…constant weather monitoring, having all our safety gear at the ready, personal protection on, signaling devices, VHF, navigation equipment tuned in and all rigging given a once over (Standing and running). I addition to the gear check everyone was briefed on what steps to take if it got technical. A play by play if you will. I am confident that all that pre planning and preparation gave us an edge on getting through what turned out to be the most challenging experience I have ever had the get through.

My reading “Sailing A Serious Ocean” by Kretschmer really paid off!!

I will post some pics of the trip and look forward to the next.

To all of you out there…..Be Safe and ……Happy Sailing!!

Ken Boutiette
S/V Tsatzsue

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