Yoga On Board & the Eastern Seaboard
You may wonder what yoga has to do with sailing the East Coast. Yoga teacher, Bill O’Connor is out there on the high seas bringing his practice way off the mat. Here is his latest missile from the Atlantic:
It was supposed to be an easy straight forward “down east” sail from Car Canaveral to Champlain delivering a 38ft sail boat. Instead it turned into a sailing adventure with elements of a story of endurance and survival.
The boat seemed seaworthy to the amature eye. It was sturdy and sound despite being abandoned and exposed in a Florida marina for two years. The new owners, Scott & Georgia, a hired captain, Ken, and myself were to sail north off the coast in the Gulf Stream to NY harbor then up the Hudson to Lake Champlain.
The weather was right, the boat provisioned for a ten day sail and off we launched. My first clue of the tone of the trip was when we went hard aground just a half mile from the marina.
The new captain misjudged the depth and we found ourselves mired in mud just 20 min into our trip. We had to call for a Seatow which ultimately cost over $900. You can imagine the owner was not happy with the captain. We finally got pulled of and headed due north by east into the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream.
The Stream is a strong current which originates in the Gulf of Mexico, flows just off the east coast of the States then circles north, then east towards Europe. Because of the speed of the current it is used by mariners as a sort of super highway to speed vessels to their destinations. It was one of my dreams to sail the stream up the coast with a following wind “down east” meaning down wind in a north easterly direction.
The stream is unmistakable when you get to it about 20 to 40 miles off shore. The sea changes color to a bright deep turquoise blue. The temperature of the water and air get warmer and then finally the northward speed of the current carries boats an additional 4 to 6 knots, a virtual turbo super nautical highway.
Well, we hit it and off we went at an astonishing 12 K! Soon we would be in NY, then…
A jig sheet tore off pulling off the block. This wasn’t too bad except we lost control of the starboard head sheet line. It had to be fixed so I volunteered. Yes, I know “never volunteer in the Navy” but I forgot. In the process of rescuing the jib sheet the clew of the jib now fatigued by flapping in the wind so much allowed the port jib sheet and block to fly off. I narrowly missed being whipped by the sheet.
You know the expression “3 sheets to the wind”, well we were 2! Now attempting to recover control of the lines by motoring into the wind the engine quit. Now what’s the matter? The fuel filters are clogged and we have no spare. So, we have no engine or jib and we are 75 miles off-shore. We list our options and try just sailing with the main sail but sailing to the nearest port means crossing the superhighway gulf stream. We don’t have enough sail so I volunteer (another mistake) to go out on the bow in heavy seas and capture the jib clew to re rig it. Ballet style I dance my way to the heaving bow and catch and rig! Oh Bill, Our hero.
We are now limping our way to Charleston SC for repairs.
~ Bill O’Connor
image captured on Google Maps