Back in Newport
June 28, 2012
Sorry for the delay in reporting - GryphonSolo2 arrived in Newport at about 10:00 AM yesterday, completing the trip from Bermuda in about 90 hours, a bit slower than our race down in 60 hours! It was very difficult to type onboard, so I didn't. It was a tough slog, beginning with light winds and motoring and then a weird trip through gulfstream squalls and finishing with a punishing 240 mile beat to windward in an awful seaway that caused the boat to pound mercilessly.
My partner for the voyage was a friend named Scott Finlay, who was scheduled to do the return trip on another boat, but they left early (to beat the conditions we experienced) and Scott asked if he could come along with me. I was planning on doing the trip solo, but knew that doing an offshore passage of this kind was on Scott's "bucket list", so I consented to his joining, as long as he understood that it could be an uncomfortable trip.
Well... I think Scott got his money's worth! I think we saw every imaginable condition and the pounding we took was first class. Scott had almost no offshore sailing experience, so was constantly asking questions, most of which centered on what he would do if I went overboard! I discussed the retrieval process at some length, but bottom line was he did not have the skills to retrieve me, so basically I would have been toast... and then he would have had to call for help, as he couldn't sail the boat himself. Interesting philosophical dilemma... (talk amongst yourselves) It was a risk to both Scott and I to bring him onboard for such a rough passage with so little experience, but he was a total trooper- not a single complaint, generally celebrating the whole experience, marveling at the natural world of the deep blue sea. Scott was a ski patroller at Sugarloaf for 15 years and achieved the highest level of certification, so he was accustomed to dealing with emergency situations and did not get his cage rattled at all by the gnarly weather. He did accidentally turn the auto-pilot off once which caused the boat to round up and gybe a la our experience in the race, but we did not have a kite up this time so it made sorting things out a bit easier. After a 15 minute cluster-f$@#, the boat was moving in the right direction again and I reviewed with Scott where the auto-pilot button was located in some detail. We refer to it now as "the incident", and it will go down in the archives of the trip. Scott was taking photos and filming video with his "Go-Pro" camera and evidently "the incident" was caught on tape, so we may see it on YouTube, with the audio portion edited to a PG level!
Anyhooo, our trip ended on a high note as we came into Newport under spinnaker and sparkling sunshine, only to be greeted by the site of six America's Cup AC 45 trimarans with hard wing mainsails lined up at moorings in front of Fort Adams State Park as we turned for our mooring. Fort Adams had been turned into a temporary America's Cup village, with tents and activities everywhere, and the SailNewport crew was running racing clinics in the harbor, so kids in 420's and Opti's were flying around everywhere! Very cool... made me appreciate the many unique niches of the sport of sailing and a great sight to behold at the end of an offshore passage.
After a shower and lunch, we watched the AC racing for a bit from the veranda of the NYYC (not a bad spot) and then returned our race-damaged A6 kite to North Sails for repair and headed home. It's great to be back on terra firma and see my family and celebrate last night. Time to get back to work! However, despite the rough seas and uncomfortable living conditions, I find myself already looking forward to the next passage... hopelessly addicted to offshore sailing.