Since it was time to leave, the anchorage filled with relentless waves all week was now completely still, with barely a ripple in the water. As it was only 6 a.m. I decided to let the first mate sleep as it would be easy enough to raise the anchor and get underway without help. After cranking in the 150 feet of chain and securing the anchor I turned quickly to make my way back to the helm, only to find Coleen behind the wheel ready for instructions. That girl is a great first mate!
Amazingly the huge rollers we had seen all week in the entrance channel were gone, leaving only gentle swells. It looked like the day was off to a great start with only a few scattered clouds, a 15 knot southeasterly breeze, possibly a nice, easy broad reach, my favorite kind of sailing. With 60 miles to go we expected to be at the next anchorage on the northwest tip of Long Island just before dark. When planning a passage we always estimate a 4 knot average so as not to be disappointed with slow progress.
Well, all that starts well does not stay that way. In less than an hour I was tucking the first reef in the mainsail, storm clouds were gathering, and the gentle swell became a constant stream of six foot waves lifting up the rear quarter of the Glass Slipper and rushing under and out at a five second interval. Still it wasn’t too bad as waves on the rear quarter are really the best kind, and we were sailing 6 knots a comfortable 3 miles out from the lee shore.
Another hour goes by, and storm clouds are getting nearer. I decide to tuck in another reef just to be cautious. I manage to get the reef in but in the process get the reefing line jammed around the winch. I mean really jammed. No amount of effort on my part can free it. I slink back to the cockpit feeling defeated but thinking that when we get anchored I can ask DJ to get the line unjammed for me.
Another hour goes by, the skies clear, still six foot seas, and now we’re scooting along at 6.5 to 8 knots making it hard to maintain steerage. DJ calls on the VHF radio and suggests we put in a 3rd reef as where he is 2 miles ahead the wind has picked up to a steady 25 knots. I take a deep breath, as the only way to tuck in a 3rd reef is to get that jammed line off the winch! I head up to the mast and holler at Coleen to hand up my knife. As soon as I touch the blade to the line, wham, the line shoots out the back of the boom. Darn, I wish I’d had the foresight to close the clutch before I cut the line, then I could have had the option for a second reef again, if needed. Now the line was dangling in the sea! I quickly tucked in the 3rd reef, made my way back to the cockpit and secured the perfectly good, nearly brand, now useless line that I had cut. Bummer!
The Glass Slipper sailed well with a triple reefed main and tiny scrap of a jib, and the Glass Slipper girls managed to get used to the motion of the constant six foot seas, just holding on for a bumpy ride. But honestly I was worried because if we needed a 3rd reef in a 25 knot wind what would we do in a 30-35 knot wind? In all my reading I’d never heard of anyone putting in a 3rd reef for a 25 knot wind, but yet the boat was going too fast without it. Then again DJ’s very heavy full keel boat was also flying along with a triple reefed main……
A few hours later we rounded the northern point of Long Island. We had expected the waves to be rough on the point, but it really wasn’t much worse. Finally we were in the lee of the island, out of the six foot seas with an anchorage in sight and it was only 4 o’clock. All that strong wind had made for fast sailing. We tucked into a beautiful anchorage with gorgeous water and beaches minutes before a huge squall hit. We sure dodged that one!