Up, down, up, down… this was how we spent 10 hours on August 29th running downwind with the offshoots from hurricane Cristobal. It was our best day yet, and not even uncomfortable, making 74 nautical miles in just over 10 hours.
When this trip began, the constant downwind sailing got to me. It became what we jokingly called “Debbie Downwind.” Our third day out I had a breakdown after spilling my whole French press of coffee while going up the companionway to go on watch. Downwind Heart’s Desire rocks and rolls, and after 3 days, I was over it (but luckily not sick from it). Making water boil became a chore since inevitably you have to pour it once it boils. On the fateful day I finally got my water boiled, lost half of it to the sink while pouring, then made my way to the cockpit. Halfway up the ladder KABLOOEY! Coffee grounds and hot coffee EVERYWHERE. And by everywhere and I mean all over Matt, who was trying to sleep, his bunk, and the surroundings (4 months later and we are still finding coffee grounds). Needless to say, I was over downwind sailing.
Then I learned what it is like to beat into it… and realized how naïve I really was. Going into the wind makes it feel stronger and colder, the boat heels over to the side, we generally get wetter, and we go NOWHERE. In 8 hours of sailing into the wind we went 10 miles in the direction we wanted to go for an average speed of 1.25 knots. That was 3 days before our 74 nautical mile run in 10 hours for an average speed of 7.4 knots. On that day I also got the boat going 10.4 knots surfing down a wave. This is the fastest we have ever gotten Heart’s Desire. We ran most of the day with just our fore sail, and at one point reefed it down. This has become our standard heavy wind running technique. We left Louisburg just after 8 am, after meeting another sailboat, Solitude. They ended up leaving a while after us and so we had the nice site of another sailboat for most of the day as they slowly pulled ahead. While the day began a little drizzly, it broke out to a clear, picturesque afternoon. Solitude passed us late in the day and we popped in to Port Howe. We found a spot to anchor and had our supper with a beautiful sunset. I’ll not complain about downwind sailing again.