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Bermuda 1-2 - GryphonSolo2's return trip to Newport

by Joe Harris on 13 Jun 2013
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First, thank you to all who wrote messages of encouragement, commiseration or support with regard to GryphonSolo2's withdrawal from the Bermuda 1-2 a few days ago- all of these messages were much appreciated. While I do not receive the messages on the boat, I do get them once I hit land and I is great to hear from so many folks. I thought people might be interested in a few aspects of the 220 mile return trip to Newport, so here goes. When I decided to bail out, it was the middle of the night and glassy calm all around. I was pretty bummed but knew it was the right thing to do. So I fired up the engine and turned the boat around and headed north under power. After motoring for about 12 hours, the breeze began to come up out of the southeast, so I shut down the engine and put up the big red spinnaker and was able to sail again. Happy. I guess the sailing formula for me is pretty simple- good wind = good mood, no wind = bad mood.... Probably the same for most sailors. Anyway, after a very nice day on Monday where we made good progress towards Newport and were about 70 miles offshore approaching the continental shelf, the wind built to 15 to 20 knots and a series of squalls began to come through bringing drenching rains. During one of the squalls, I was on deck trimming the sails when I heard a loud bang on the port side and the boat suddenly slowed from about 10 knots to about two knots to a dead stop...... I had hooked a large offshore lobster pot around the keel and the boat was stopped dead in its tracks. As this has happened to me before, I knew I was in trouble and most likely the only way to get the line off the keel was to dive under the boat and cut it. Since it was the middle of the night, pitch black and raining with a pretty good sea state and 20 knot wind and I was alone, this did not seem like a very appealing option. So, I dropped all the sails and let the boat drift and contemplated my options. No good ones came to mind, so finally I got on the VHF radio and asked if there were any fishing boats in the area who might have a diver onboard. Remarkably, a captain from New Bedford came back and said he did not have a diver onboard but would come over and see if he could lend some assistance. Just as he arrived on the scene, after being hooked for about an hour, I heard another clang as the bouy unwrapped itself from the keel and the boat was free again! Unbelievable. I put the sails back up and was soon marching along again at 10 knots! A weird and scary experience. Glad it had a happy ending. As we approached Newport, a thick fog had set in and the wind was still about 20 knots from behind. As we came past Block Island and approached the Castle Hill light at the entrance to Newport, my chart plotter screen suddenly filled up with at least a dozen other boats, all heading in to Newport. At first I thought it was shipping traffic, but I finally was able to figure out that they were all sailboats and were participants in the Annapolis- Newport race and they were all approaching the finish line under spinnakers gybing furiously for position with visibility less than three boat lengths! It reminded me of the scene from the movie Top Gun, as Maverick got back into action after the crash where his co-pilot Goose was killed..... ' Bogeys as thick as fireflies- MIG fighters- they're all around us- engage Maverick, engage!'..... but Maverick was spooked and bugged out. I felt like bugging out too! But we managed to avoid collision and got the boat to its mooring in one piece and I was very grateful. Never a dull moment. Onward- cheers GryphonSolo2 website
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