Those of us who sail on the ocean know of its magic. We delight in watching the ebb and flow of the seas, in feeling the wind on our face and the sails straining against the rigging. For a time we shrug off the bonds of shorebound life and head out, often alone, always far from the mass of humanity, across hundreds or thousands of miles, yearning for the next port but never really wanting to get there.
Small boats can travel great distances propelled by nothing more than the wind. Their skippers survive by learning more to swing with the ocean's rhythms than by pitting feeble strength against the relentless power of the sea. The sun, stars and planets guide us... with the occasional fix from a passing freighter!
For me sailing, particularly long distance sailing, is my raison d'etre. The siren call of offshore adventure always creates stories, some recorded here. Enjoy!
My current boat is Voyager, a Seawind II 32 foot ketch. If you own a Seawind II, please subscribe to the mailing list. Check out http://www.alliedseawindii.org/ for subscription information.
Voyager at anchor in Bermuda
During the summer of 1999 Voyager and her crew completed a 3800 mile trip from Baltimore to the Caribbean. We sailed to Antigua via Bermuda, through the Leeward and Virgin islands, back to Bermuda and thence to Baltimore, stopping in 5 countries. 17 days from Norfolk to Antigua. On the trip back I singlehanded from St. Thomas to Bemuda, 8 days non-stop, and had such a great wind I didn't touch a sheet for a week. A fantastic trip, and Voyager proved herself a very safe and comfortable sea boat.
June and July of 2000 found Voyager in company with Willow (a Bristol 40), sailing down the ICW to Charleston, then a nice offshore run to Nassau. The boats traveled down the Exuma chain, then up to Spanish Wells and Eleuthera before returning to Baltimore. Another wonderful trip; the kids especially enjoyed traveling in company with Willow's three youngsters. Here's the story in more detail.
In June 2001 we set sail, again in company with Willow, for Bermuda and then the Turks and Caicos. A great trip! Unfortunately I've yet to write anything about it. Trust me - what a hell of a time!
2002 saw Voyager sailing to New England, thence to Bermuda, back to New England and then home. Another good time, though we had a very stormy passage to Bermuda. One gale, but it blew for 5 days on the nose. We got within sight of Bermuda, the wind dropped, and I put the engine in gear. The transmission failed. With enough TLC we were able to nurse it, but wound up putting a new trans in after returning. My 15 year old son sailed with us from Bermuda to Rhode Island, his first long ocean passage. Now he has a few more long passages under his belt.
2003 was a big year; Marybeth and I got married, she moved from Rhode Island to Baltimore, and then, again with Willow, we ran down the ICW to Charleston, and headed direct from there to San Salvador, a 6.5 day passage... and spent four of those days motoring. From there we spent a few weeks island hopping to Georgetown. Her son had returned to America when we stopped in Long Island; mine left in Georgetown, and Scott and his crew headed back from there as well. We looked at each other and said, "Why leave?" Instead we spent a fabulous week cruising the Exumas, ending up in Nassau. A bouncy 5 day sail brought us to Moorehead City, NC, and then we ran up the Waterway to Norfolk and Baltimore. We then sold the houseboat (keeping Voyager, of course), and moved ashore, the first time I've lived on land in a very long time.
2005 saw us sailing to Bermuda, from there to the Turks and then the Caicos, then the Bahamas. See this for the story.
Our 2006 vacation went awry. We planned to sail to Bermuda and then to Nova Scotia and Maine. Instead, in Bermuda the engine developed an overheating problem. I had lots of parts shipped in at huge expense and replaced nearly everything. No luck. We limped back home, a slow and lousy trip highlighted by two gales, one from the north in the Gulf Stream. One sea picked us up and tossed us so violently to leeward that the wind vane's rudder broke off. The 5-part mainsheet block failed and just missed braining me. A ship nearly ran us down in fog. Then there was the engine room fire. To cap it all off, in the Fall I finally got the heat exchanger out (which required making some special tools) and found it clogged with a paper towel. All that over one lousy paper towel. But we did have a great time in Bermuda.
2007 and 2008 were busts for long distance sailing.
In 2009 we planned to sail to Bermuda (always one of our favorite places). Five days before our scheduled departure an EKG indicated I may have had a heart attack. The nuclear stress test was a day before leaving, and results wouldn't be back till after our departure. We hemmed and hawed; finally, the day of the test decided not to go. The thought of being hundreds of miles from land and a real problem developing wasn't appealing. Turns out, the test results were fine. So we flew over, and I sailed back aboard Willow, as Scott needed crew. It was a slow motorsail into the wind.
For 2012 we sailed (well, mostly powered) to Block Island, Cuttyhunk, Martha's Vineyard, Padanarum and then Newport. Marybeth has a lot of family there, and we spent 10 days at anchor in Newport harbor seeing folks. From there we spent a fabulous day at Mystic Seaport, and returned home via LI Sound and New York. It was a nice trip but we did far too much powering.
Then there's woodworking, another passion. Here's my sawmill. And my shop.
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Adventures in mind? Contact me: Jack Ganssle
Updated January 9, 2013