Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Most Valuable Products: AIS

We recently upgraded Sea Gem's VHF radio to a model with AIS, and that investment paid dividends during our trip from Miami to New York.  The greatest fear of many sailors is being struck by a large commercial ship.  Sea Gem is a big sailboat, but to a thousand-foot tanker, she's little more than a bump in the road. 

Our AIS is hooked up to our computer, which enables us to easily see nearby commercial vessels (or not-so nearby--we could pick up larger vessels from nearly 100 miles away) relative to our boat's location.  The software depicts the commercial ships graphically and indicates their position and course and, by color (green, yellow, red) how close they will come to us.  If anything looks problematic, we can double-click on the vessel, and the software provides its name, VHF contact information, size, destination, and calculates how close it will pass to Sea Gem, and at what time.  If needed, we can easily hail the ship (by name) and discuss a possible change of course early on, obviating the need for any last-second, white-knuckled maneuvering.

AIS Display
During our trip north, we passed through several heavily trafficked commercial shipping lanes, and the AIS was a godsend.  On several occasions, the AIS enabled us to either adjust course or contact approaching ships (at least one of which had not spotted us before we called) to ensure that all of the commercial ships remained tiny, harmless specks on the horizon.   I certainly won't say that we would have had an accident had we not installed the AIS, but I do think that we'd have arrived in New York with a few more gray hairs.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sailing Conditions - Miami, FL to Morehead City, NC

Our 10-day ocean journey started off on a threatening foot. As we made our way past the city towards the ocean, dark clouds were on our tail. It was a harsh eviction from paradise:
 
Leaving Miami
The approaching storm was moving faster and the city was soon engulfed in a torrential downpour:
 
Summer Rain
We narrowly escaped the festivities. Although there was lightning everywhere, the heaviest rain never made its way to our boat (we were also thankful not to be struck by lightning). Our vantage point gave us quite the show however:

Passing Storm
Eventually, the storm passed (we certainly didn't outrun it), the water calmed, and we were able to relax a little bit:
Calmer Waters
For the most part, the weather conditions we encountered during the first part of the trip were fair, and at times, boringly uneventful:

Excitement of the Day - Seeing a Bird
The wind and wave action picked up on the last day of the first leg of the journey and we had a little bit of excitement:

Spray
We pounded the waves for 12 straight hours:
 
 
Some of us who don't get seasick (me) enjoyed this part of the trip more than other crew members.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Most Valuable Products of our Journey: Sirius Radio

We spent months preparing for our 1100-mile journey from Miami to New York, including purchasing and installing several new devices to make our trip safer and more comfortable.  Many of these upgrades proved to be extremely beneficial during our trip, and in my next few posts, I will give credit where it is due and identify our favorites.

First is our Sirius radio, which is actually a product that is not new at all--it came with Sea Gem when we purchased the boat (with a lifetime subscription), and we certainly use it from time to time, particularly when we are out sailing.  However, during our trip, particularly during the long days spent nearly 100 miles offshore and during night watches, the Sirius radio more than earned its place among our most valuable devices.

Sirius Radio
Long after we lost our cell signals and FM radio was nothing more than a white-noise generator, the Sirius continued to deliver hundreds of channels of crystal-clear audio.  Out at sea, Sirius enabled us to keep up with current events with CNN, NPR, and BBC radio.  And night watches were much easier to bear by selecting different channels for each watch, such as the Elvis channel (which during the wee hours features fans calling in with their dubious Elvis stories).  

We didn't come close to listening to all 100-plus channels during our trip, but we certainly cycled through several, and it is nice to know that there are plenty more left for the next trip...

Monday, August 18, 2014

We Made It!

Our 10-day sailing journey has come to an end--we've made it to Jersey City, NJ. The trip was long and exhausting, but we did it.

Our new marina is wonderful, as is our view of downtown Manhattan:

Front Yard
We'll be posting about our trip soon! Thanks to everyone who tracked us online and set us messages along the way. It gave us peace of mind knowing that friends and family were keeping an eye on us.