Part 2. At Sea We were five aboard Restive as, with the captain recovered, we headed out of Hamilton Harbor and onto the open sea, destined for Newport, R.I. 635 nautical miles to the northwest, with nothing between us but salt water. We had clear skies and a strong southwest wind, which, if it did not change, meant we could sail straight to Newport without turning – or, as we salts like to say, on a single port tack. It also meant high seas, which made stomachs dyspeptic and turned the simplest tasks into physical challenges. For example, you didn’t walk to the toilet (“head”), you grabbed onto whatever was handy and hauled yourself painfully forward. Once safely there, you faced a whole new set of challenges.
A few days earlier, with a different crew (we were the B team), Restive had completed the Marion-to-Bermuda race. It had been quite a trip. Early on, the thing that furls the jib had broken during a storm, which forced the crew to spend several perilous hours wrestling the huge sail onto the deck. Then the toilet broke.
But Restive sailed on undaunted, navigating only by the stars, a class she had won twice before. This time, however, for some yet-unexplained reason she veered to the northeast and missed Bermuda entirely. This is not an insignificant miscalculation, as the island is a lonely collection of rocks in an otherwise empty ocean – Cape Hatteras, the nearest dry land, is 580 nautical miles away.
Glad I wasn’t on that trip.