Sunday, November 8, 2009

Respite in Fort Pierce

Zac at the healm

Me with a friend

Dad with his cup of tea .

Well, here I am sitting on Wild Eyes in Fort Pierce, Florida waiting for the wind to change direction. It's been hard on our nose for the past day or two and Wild Eyes doesn't do well close hauled.

We got out of Newport, Rhode Island last Sunday, two days later than we had been hoping to leave. Our trip started out nicely with a good bit of wind coming from the north and we were racing along with our full sail up going at about 8 to 9 knots. It didn't stay like that for long though, by the next night we had 25 knots of wind and 15 foot breaking seas. It was amazing! And Wild Eyes handled it all great.

I've come to realize a bit better how much work Wild Eyes will be; she's a great boat, and designed for single-handing, but she is a race boat. It takes more than twice as much work to do anything on her than on any other cruising boat - but its worth some extra work. That rough night on Wild Eyes wasn't at all bad - it was actually kind of fun. We were making great time going at around 15 knots and once getting up to 24kts surfing down a wave. We were down to the third reef in the main and healed right over, though it was nothing compared to what I will get into. I will get a lot of weather like that in the Southern Ocean and it was good to be able to see how the boat handles in that sort of thing.

Our auto pilot has done great. When we first left Newport we couldn't get it working so we ended up hooking up the secondary auto pilot and its a miracle she's still working. The boat slides all over the place when surfing down waves and even with all of that extra work she's managed to keep us on track so far. She is very loud, but after the initial fear of having to hand steer for the whole trip we agreed not to complain, lest she feel she wasn't appreciated and break down.

Sailing with Zac has been an experience... and I'm still trying to decide whether or not its a good one! He's taken advantage of there being no mirrors on the boat and I very rarely wake up without some drawing on my my face. He also has taken great joy in little things, like my mortification at watching him wash a cup with salt water and a dirty sock. But despite how annoying he is, its really good to have him with us out here.

I could write a whole lot more about this trip, but I have to get going, we have a few things to finish up before we pull out.



  1. I knew it would be wild out there. When the Volvo raceboats stopped in Annapolis a few years back they said that the run up from Florida to Annapolis was one of the nastier legs of their around the world race. Great test of your boat. You all have alot of guts to put a "new to you" boat to such a test!

    All the best with your quest!

  2. Thanks for the pictures. Especially the one with the friend.
    Concerning Zac, I guess he missed teasing his younger siblings a lot and now has to catch up. Prepare yourself for the long solitude well.
    Godspeed to all of you!

  3. Great post Abby. Good to hear about this exciting trip. Give us more when you can.

    Say safe one and all, and enjoy,
    Kathy Bend, OR

  4. Were the running backstays a pain?

    Still think you need to take a saw to the outboard end of your boom so it will pass inside the running backs. (I know, if you do that, you won't need running backs, but keep them anyway for the extra mast support.) You don't need that much sail in the Southern Ocean, which is what you need to focus on if you want to make this nonstop.

    How many spare autopilots will you take? Remember poor Mike Perham having to put into port after port when his autopilot acted up, throwing him into accidental jybes?

    Zac was able to use a simple wind vane steering system on his Islander 36, which is what Jessica is using on her S&S 34. But I believe that won't work for your surfing hotrod, correct?

    If so, you are terribly dependent upon your autopilot. On a small boat like Zac's or Jessica's you could just pull a spare Autohelm out of the box. I know on Mike's Open 50 it was a big mother bear that was custom made and not exactly portable.

    What is the story on an Open 40? Can you use something off-the-shelf like an Autohelm? And carry spares to simply plug in? Or is it some complex beast that has to be replaced in the yard?

    Did you use the autopilot much on the trip?

    Actually surprised you let Zac steer the boat. Seems like it would have been good practice for you to pretend you were on your own singlehanding. (Easy for me to say, as I'm not out there in those 15-foot waves.) But it does seem as if it would be good to try handling the boat completely on your own for a while, and let Zac sit back and watch.

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  5. Oh Ya...The brother sister thing...I almost forgot how that worked....

  6. Glad to see that all of you have arrived safely in Florida and are not far from Fort Lauderdale.

    Thanks for the report on your experiences on the trip down to Florida.

    Don Stubbs
    Summerfield, NC

  7. Its wonderful to follow your early travels. We're on board for the duration. Have a great time with your brother and dad.

    Your friends in Utah

  8. Thanks for the visual.....................drying his cup with an old sock!
    Straight Wakes,
    Mike S.

  9. Great update and pics, Abby! I can totally relate to part of your blog, having grown up with an older brother :-) The sailing bit I can't personally relate, having never been on a sail boat, however I've so much enjoyed following Zac and learning more about it all, and now look forward to following you! Keep practicing out there, you can't replace learning by experience. Keeping you in my prayers! Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

  10. A strong southern wind across the Gulf stream is comparable to petting your cat "against-the-grain" due to the direction of the current and dangerous waves can develop.
    Wait for favorable winds.
    Straight Wakes,
    Mike S.

  11. Hi Abby,
    Brothers --- you gotta love 'em!

    Blessings for a safe trip,
    WA St.

  12. Love hearing how Zac is keeping you entertained in such a *brotherly* fashion! Guess he missed you for those 13 months and is making up for it, huh?

    Good to hear you're learning lots and enjoying! Take lots of pix and share!

  13. Nothing like the torment of big brother (I am the big brother in my family)...especially one that's "been there, done that, got the t-shirt".

    Keep it up!

  14. Abby,
    She doesn't point well? I thought pointing was what race boats were all about. Please elaborate on how your carbon fiber rocket ship sails. Is she just too light to punch through?
    San Diego

  15. What's really cool to me is how impromptu this "little" trip is. Where I imagine people plot plan provision months on end to make a 10-14 day trip down the East Coast, you guys just hop in a boat and go. Like it's as natural as riding a bicycle down to the store and back. Look at Zac bundling up with a bandana :-)

    It's remarkable, so very natural for you all to just hop in an unfamiliar boat in whatever weather is thrown your way and go. Making pit stops as and when necessary, just going with the flow, winging it.

    Very cool I say.

  16. Sounds like a good test for you and the boat. Sounds very uncomforable though. I hope that the last leg goes easier.
    When I was in Hawaii I used to watch the transpac boats leave for the return trip to the mainland and there were never any happy faces on the crew. Driving a downwind sled hard to windward in open ocean is no fun at all. When I came back home in my 29 ft. sloop I found out why those guys had those long faces.
    Be safe.


  17. Im sooo excited for you Abby, sounds like a wonderful adventure!! I will be praying for you! How long are you in Ft pierce for? Is there any way I could bring my 2 girls to meet you and your family while you are in Ft Pierce? (we live in Boca Raton, south of there). Have a wonderful, safe journey and journal, journal, journal, journal!!!

  18. Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for the prayers. We are pulling out this afternoon about 1:00. We will be in Fort Lauderdale for a few days before loading up Wild Eyes and flying home.
    :) Abby

  19. I was out there on the same water doing a catamaran delivery. Pretty lumpy. The owners said it was a great test of themselves and their new boat. I must tell them you found the same conditions and said the same things.

    Thanks for writing with such enthusiasm.

  20. Abby, I loved the picture with you and your "friend". Poor thing looked pretty bedraggled. Yes, sailing against the Gulf current is no fun! I'm sure Zak is enjoying teasing you as only a big brother can! It's great you have this opportunity to sail with him and pick up some pointers - although washing a cup with a dirty sock may not be one you want to add to your book. Hahaha Great to hear that things are going well though. Keep us all posted on the progress.
    Annapolis, MD

  21. How is the cockpit with the open poop deck in blue water?
    Zac's opinion would be interesting, too.

  22. HOW exciting!! i was gonna read up on your bro zac and his trip online.. NOW i find you are just taking off with his help to do an even greater challenge!! no land?? WOW!! i will be reading all you can get written here!! much much love to you and your incredible family!! renee in tennesee

  23. I'm so glad that you two are getting along... :D haha! we miss you over here! MT does NOT feel the same anymore... :)

    Good luck!

  24. Wanted to add to all the well wishes and prayers, I can't even imagine what you must be feeling. Are you still good with this boat? It seems a bit spartan. Safe Journey, we'll be following along.

  25. I'm enjoying hearing about the trip thus far, and am enjoying your writing style. These days will be great to recall once your making your own wakes. Who knows, you too may decide to use your socks for a chore in a pinch! Ha ha too funny!
    Melanie in Torrance

  26. Just met with Abby and her Dad, she is in need of a Navigation Computer and had asked me to stop by Wild Eyes to have a look. I looked things over and came to a few conclusions.
    1-She has found herself a sturdy boat that has great lines and looks ready and willing.
    2-Abby herself- after looking things over and talking with Abby and her Dad, the one thing that makes me sure of her success,,, The look in her Eyes!

  27. Re Bryan Fugett comment:

    2-Abby herself- after looking things over and talking with Abby and her Dad, the one thing that makes me sure of her success,,, The look in her Eyes!

    Would they be....Wild Eyes !! ?

  28. Just signed on Abby to wish you all the best. I followed Zac from the beginning of his adventure and I think I will tag along with you too!

    Captain SV "Wombat"
    Waterloo, NY

  29. Zac sounds 100% normal, and is clearly showing you the ways of the world - when you circumnavigate it solo!!!

    Tray M.

  30. @Bryan Fugett--thanks so much for your report that Abby has found herself a sturdy boat, and that she is determined (the look in her "Eyes"--awesome)! How great that you got to meet her and Laurence (and Zac too?). We all really appreciated getting an outsider's reassurance that our Abby and Wild Eyes are up to the task.

    ABBY--How are things going? When do you put Wild Eyes on the boat for the trip west?? Please get rest and take care of yourself!!!
    --Sue McGah
    Laguna Niguel, CA

  31. ABBY-
    I love the sibling sailing rivalry.
    Kodiak Mike

  32. What's next? Is the boat on it's way to the west coast yet?
    Annapolis, MD.

  33. Abby beginng to wonder if "Wild Eyes" made it to Fort Lauderdale must have taken the long passage Hope all is well Best Wishes !

  34. Good Luck Abby!!

    As a marketing consultant, here is a hint - you really need to keep your blog updated more regularly if you want to build a following. Your comments log should be measuring in the hundreds, given the publicity surrounding Zac's world class achievement, and now the solo around attempt by Jessica Watson in "Ella's Pink Lady". Those following here are your real supporters.

    A 10 day gap will allow supporters to become bored; it already seems as if you have little or no interest in keeping your fan base updated.

    Have you arrived in Ft Lauderdale yet?
    Has "Wild Eyes" been trans-shipped?
    What other preparations are in hand?

    Your fans want to know!!!!!

  35. Where are the Sunderlands and where is Wild Eyes? Any news to post?

    All the best,

  36. If delays cause you to get uncomfortably close to the Cape Horn weather window, don't hesitate to put off your start for a year.

    And if between now and then, your interest focuses elsewhere, don't be afraid to head off in a new direction, even if it has nothing to do with boats and the ocean.

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  37. We are seating on pins and neddles. What is up? Looking forward to your updates.
    --Tim Fuller
    Taylor, TX

  38. The lack of communication would seem to indicate a problem of some sort.

    A problem shared.....

    Good luck.

  39. You might wabt to check

    Either you site has been hacked or there are simply some bad errors; you boat is called 'evil eyes' and there is a line drawing of a displacement long keel yacht that is definitelt not an open 40!

  40. Dear Abby,
    You go for it! You are an example of excellence.
    I was 16 once and I see your ability and courage.
    With the current world climate you can show/share an example for the rest of us.
    We can excel in our endeavors with a positive conce
    ntrated effort to achieve new goals and higher expectaions.

    Thanks for being a Model for my children!
    Steve Nazelrod
    "Sailor Stranded in the Desert"

    ps: if they are named "Anon" , don't listen.