First week…Broken Gear and an Unscheduled Stop

The first week proved to be quite the challenge as the first day leaving Neah Bay brought in a gale and confused seas lasting for nearly two days. Cascadia performed spectacular as the waves pummeled the starboard side. These waves sound unlike anything you might imagine, instead of the tranquil sound of water lapping against the hull they sound more like colliding with some sort of solid object which produces a very disturbing heavy thud. Even more worrisome was the ones that broke on top of Cascadia, as water would rush across the decks filling every port light so that it would appear, albeit only temporarily that we were underwater. However, Cascadia shrugged off every wave and instilled more confidence that she was up for the task. [spacer height=”20px”]
Nevertheless, the gear on board hasn’t faired as well. On the second night, the control lines on the wind vane shredded, causing the boat to round up in the middle of the night. It was quite dramatic given the high winds. I turned on the electric wheel pilot and reduced sail until I could remedy the situation. However, that too turned into quite the task as my plan was to take down the main sail completely and just sail under half of the genoa unfurled, but the main sail jammed with only being halfway furled in, with the only remedy being to round up into the wind and strap on my harness and go forward to unfoul it. I chose instead the reduce headsail even more and sailed for the next two days in that configuration until the winds finally settled down. [spacer height=”20px”]
The following morning I went to turn my inverter on to charge my computer which has all my navigation software, only to find the inverter has shorted out. This too was worrisome as this computer was my primary means of navigation and without it I would be back to charting by paper, a task that I was up to, but troubling nonetheless as I was already down to GPS’s and the trip had only just begun. [spacer height=”20px”]
So as I neared the closest point of land before making my right turn to Hawaii I had a decision to make. “Should I stop for a few days and remedy these minor fixes or continue forth?” Having been in constant contact with my cousin Zach and my friend Kramer about the current weather and hurricanes raging in the Pacific, they seemed not too confident that now would be a wise time to cross as the Pacific High pressure zone was extremely far north allowing for hurricanes to move well past the Hawaiian latitudes . With that advice coupled with my already minor malfunctions, I chose to err on the side of caution and I’m glad I did. I pointed Cascadia east towards California, as Crescent City would be her first port of call. On the transit into port I encountered heavy fog so I energized the radar only to find it too had stopped operating, it was only minutes later that I found myself wild off course due to the electric autopilot that had also stopped functioning. So now while import, I am busy with repairs doing some laundry, and chomping at the bit to get back out there. 

Author: Andrew Stephens

A Pacific Northwest native and recent graduate from Seattle University, Andy is currently sailing his 30′ Cape Dory sailboat around the world. You can find more information him by visiting his website or on his YouTube channel.

13 Comments on “First week…Broken Gear and an Unscheduled Stop

  1. Holy crap! You are busting it (literally, sorry) but it sounds like the boat and you are up to the task. So glad you made a repair stop. Might have been good to plan on anyway since that Pacific is so darn big. Good luck my friend, have fun!

  2. Great post. Gee I have an old hand held GPS I would have given to your Aunt Sue if I knew you could have used it.
    BTW I work with your Aunt.

    1. Hey Doug! Thanks, I actually have about 5 different devices with GPS, it was just that when I lost the main GPS and both planning computers so early into the trip, I thought it would be best to get it rectified as murphy’s law is most evident on sailboats and before you know I would be doing dead reckoning and navigating by compass.

  3. Can you please go out and buy several computer batteries while you are in port so we can all go to sleep at night??! Geez! What a start! Hang in there, Andy!! And stay safe!

    1. Haha, I actually picked up a spare inverter and got the original one to work again, however, my charge controller for my solar panels stopped working so I’m sailing to SF tomorrow to get that replaced.

  4. Dang. That sounds so freaky crazy. Who would do such a thing? aaannndddyyy? Great post. I am very pleasantly surprised. After all that you’re still game – now even I want you to be game and go and sail as long and wherever you feel like – captain Andy 😊

  5. You handled all the issues well. Thank you for the update. Take care of yourself and have fun. I hope you were able to get all of your systems going again.

  6. I just saw your video and laughed my ass off. Your smile as you recounted all the calamities and the terrible seas along with the boat creaking in the background made for a very humorous viewing. That said, I had already read all your posts and knew you had made it safely to port. Great posts! More video. Stay safe!

  7. Wow! To have so many things fail is definitely frustrating, but having backups and pure seamanship is part of the challenge. Sounds like you made all the right decisions! Stay safe!

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