Day 1c at Sea Continued

Day 1 at Sea Continued…….Thursday 12AM Midnight……

Perfect conditions on our offshore sail from New York to Florida, November 2008. The winds were 15 to 25 knots, on the starboard quarter, broad reaching the whole way on 5 to 8 foot swells. 929 nautical miles in 5 days and 3 hours.


Wednesday October 29th 6PM when we left Liberty Landing to Thursday October 30th 6PM, we consider Day 1 since this would make up our first 24 hour period of sailing.

Cez and Ed, Can you guess who's who?

Cez and Ed, Can you guess who’s who?

Cez & Paul at the helms, but herb our auto pilot is doing the work!

Cez & Paul at the helms, but herb our auto pilot is doing the work!

As we hit the Atlantic Ocean and started heading south, you could really feel the swells and waves, approximately 7 feet high and 10 seconds apart. The wind started building slowly, and increased to 15 to 20 knots with gusts of 25 knots. I’ll tell you it felt like 50 knots, I’ve sailed on Lake Ontario in 35 knots and it did not feel like this.

110% Jib is all you need on the ocean.

110% Jib is all you need on the ocean.

For our non-nautical friends, just double the knots to equate to kilometres per hour, the actual formula is x1.85 but close enough and sounds faster!

Paul took the helm from Cez, he wanted to get a feel for the boat and how it handled in these seas. The first question Paul asked was, what is the hull speed of the boat. I proudly responded 8 knots! He said that can’t be, then Cez, Paul and I got into a little debate over the mathematical formula for calculating boat speed. Paul built his own boat from the ground up, so he would know. Cez went down below and brought up his Canadian Sail Squadron text books! What a dedicated student! After looking it up, they were both right, there was no discrepancy in our formulas. The problem was in estimating the hull length. Paul did not realize that our 39’ foot boat, actually had a hull length of just over 35.5 feet. A normal sail boat of this size, would have a smaller hull length over the water line. Plus when our boat lays down at a proper heel in the water, it extends the length of hull over the water, the part touching the water.

Paul relieving herb our autopilot.

Paul relieving herb our autopilot.

I don’t claim to be a naval architect or an expert in boat design in any way, but I will try to give you a lay man’s explanation. I will be offering up various nautical terms, and technical information for those that are interested. I will typeset these in italics, so if you are really not interested in the technical aspect of the blog, or are an old salt and already know all this better than I do, then just skip the italics. – Paul doesn’t like it when we call him an Old salt, he prefers just the shortened version of just “Salt” – I digress.

Nautical & Technical Explanations:

What is Hull speed? A power boat has what is called a planning hull, when you rev up the motors and increase speed, the whole boat comes to plane on the water. There is little resistance from the water since you are riding on the water. The resistance comes from pulling out your wallet at the fuel dock. There is virtually no limit to the speed of a power boat, but the size of the engine, your wallet and the stability of the boat at great speeds. If you flip it – she’ll slow down quickly!


Sail boats on the other hand have what is called a displacement hull. Under normal conditions it will not plane (except when surfing waves, it comes up to a plane! Speed increases!), normally it would sit lower in the water, plus you will usually have a deep keel in comparison to a power boat. Our keel is 6,000lbs and 6’6” deep. So it effectively sits lower in the water, which displaces the water. Our boat’s dry weight (empty of gear) is just under 15,000lbs, so it would displace 15,000lbs of water hence the name. This puts a speed limitation on the boat, basically no matter how big a motor you put on it, it will not go faster. Hull Displacement along with other factors such as friction and resistance of the water against the hull combined together determine it’s hull speed.  If any of you ski, you’ll know the longer the skis the less friction and faster you will go down the hill. The same with a sail boat, the longer the hull at the water line (water in contact with the hull) the faster it will go. Picture a sail boat in your mind, say 39 feet, less than 39 feet will be in contact with the water, in our case 35.5  feet, many 39 foot boats will only have 32 feet touching the water line. Now when the boat heels, due to the shape of the hull, more of it will be touching the water line. In our case as much as 37 feet. So longer water line, and in certain conditions, proper angle of heel will increase water line further. Therefore enabling you to sail faster than your theoretic hull speed at times.

Pete hanging out for ride.

Pete hanging out for the ride.

The next thing you know we are going 9.6 knots with not too much trouble. We did not experience this in Lake Ontario very often, our top speed once or twice this whole season was 8.6 knots. But in the ocean, we were cruising at 8-9 knots regularly, and even 10 knots a few times. Now surfing down a wave, gives you major power from the stern like a large power boat engine pushing along, because we are also surfing down a large wave the front quarter or even half of the hull comes out of the water, simulating the planning hulls of power boats. During such situations we have achieved short burst of speed ranging from 10 to 19.5 knots which was our surfing record. Yes, hard to believe but true, 20 foot swells & 60 knots of wind speed. Read about it on our blog, in our account of our delivery from Charleston to New York City via Atlantic city stop over. As soon as the hull comes of the wave and becomes a displacement hull again the speed returns to norm.

Check out the waves in the back ground.

Check out the waves in the back ground.

Black Diamond Boat Speed Records Broken


Sailing Speed record 9.6 knots
Surfing Speed record 19.5 knots ( 20 foot swells, 60 knot wind speed.)

Zipping along...

Zipping along…

Any ways back to where we were, its the middle of the night our first night in the ocean, Paul is at the helm and as the wind builds our sustained speed for the next 36 hours was about 8 knots with bursts even faster! The first day and half we made amazing time. We could not believe it ourselves, we were about a third of the way there. We sailed the whole length of the Chesapeake and past Delaware Bay. We kept having to remind ourselves we were only out 36 hours. Paul was impressed with the stability of the boat, the way she handled the large seas and wind. She never rounded up or stalled during this period, just kept on making way, at times trying to find her way between the waves. Let me get a little poetic here, she would hunt like a feline sneaking up to her pray, swaying back and forth for a second, then lunching forward and making amazing progress. She never ceased, tired, complained or took a break. Mind you we were fortunate to have favourable wind speed and direction for most of the journey. During the first 36 hours, the wind was from the north west, giving us a nice broad reach and sailing us on this point of sail directly on our desired course.

The next morning of Thursday the 30th of October.


Last evening we furled part of the jib in, and ended up double reefing the main to sustain those speeds comfortably in those wind strengths. The following morning the winds slowly died down, and as they decreased we raised the main one reef at a time, and unfurled the jib this allowed us to maintain boat speeds of 7 to 8 knots in 12 to 15 knots of wind.

The rig on a broad reach.

The rig on a broad reach.

Hurling – Sea Sickness

We often commented if only the crew could handle this as well as the boat. I was already starting to feel a little queasy from being down below earlier for so long baking pizza and warming soup in the dark. While we were racing south in the middle of the night, the seas increased in height and distance apart shortened, making it more uncomfortable. In the darkness of night, you quickly lose your sense of orientation, this makes it even more uncomfortable especially if you are not helming. At this point I just hurled out the back of the stern, this is the best place to do it, just unzip the aft enclosure, and hurl, everything flies out the back into the sea. What ever may be left on the transom steps will quickly be washed away by the following salty seas. After this I felt a little better. If you never get sea sick in Lake Ontario, don’t judge, I never get sea sick in Lake Ontario either. The sea action is much different that we are use to in the ocean. The best plan in handling sea sickness it to acclimatize yourself first, sleep on the boat for a couple of days if possible before heading out. We did do this waiting for the weather. Then leave in the morning, so you have the whole day at sea to get use to it before dark, while your eye can feed your brain information about the horizon and what’s going on in your surroundings. Another bonus would be, if the first day at sea is not too rough, so you can slowly ease into it. In our case, we left at night, our first 12 hours were in darkness and in rough seas right out of the gate.

This is my second offshore experience and both with Paul, I thank him for the experience and mentoring in offshore passage making. Both times I got sick the first day, it takes about 24 hours to fully get over it, you won’t want to eat for that period, and I recommend you don’t, and drink small sips at a time of water or ginger ale. But the good news is, once you are fully over it, what ever mother nature throws your way over the remain days at sea, you will not get sick! Peter and I both got the sick the first day, Cez did not, maybe because he was helming for the first 6 hours of the evening, and he also wore sea sickness patches, maybe they actually worked. But Cez got sick the last day of our crossing, when we went through a large tropical depression you’ll read about this later, but my point is that Peter and I never got sick again, even through the very bad storm you’ll hear about later. My personal theory is that Cez was not immune because he did not get sick on the whole trip up to this point. But of course our “Old Salt”, oops, I meant “Just Salt”, Paul never got sick, he has full immunity, from his 35 years of sailing experience, most of which was all offshore or blue water sailing.

Peter had the best cabin or at least that’s what he thought!


When we arrived at Petersen’s Boat yard the first day on the boat. I said to Peter, you can have the V-berth (bow area) Cabin all to yourself. He would have a double berth in the V to himself, with his own closet space for his clothing, and when he closes the door, he had his own privacy. Peter’s reaction was sweet, cool! Cez got the sea berth in the salon, and Paul and I would share the aft cabin in the back of the boat. The aft has a king size double berth, but most of the time only one of us would be in it at a time, since the other would be helming.

Peter quickly realized he had the worst cabin, it was great at port but the back is the most comfortable at sea. Since the back of the boat is always in the water, and most stable with the least amount of pounding. The middle is worse, and the V berth at the bow is absolutely the worst place to be when underway in heavy weather. I don’t know if I could reproduce Peter’s comments, he has a way with words and is very amusing, kept us entertained the whole time. He came out of the V-berth and hurled. He says now I know why you gave me this cabin, he said we was thrown from port to star board, up and down, he was air born many times, and experienced weightlessness like an astronaut, until it abruptly ended with various body parts coming to a quick stop on miscellaneous woodwork in the V berth.

We forgot to explain to Peter, he could use the sea berths in the salon (middle) when underway.

Cez and I experienced being thrown from Star Board to Port in the Salon during the tropical depression we went through, I’ll tell you about that later. I actually went air born and went flying across the middle of the boat from side to side. With a 13 foot beam (width) there is a lot of room for flight.

s/v Black Diamond

With almost 30,000 Nautical miles of experience and 1,800+ sea days and nights on the water. (1,800 sea days is like 5 years on the water, 365 days a year!) I am an RYA Skipper and ICC International Competent Captain, currently working on my RYA Yacht Master with a Commercial endorsement for a 200 ton vessel. My qualifications include; MED A2 Emergency Safety at Sea, Helicopter Rescue, Life raft deployment and use, Offshore Rescue and Fire Fighting at Sea, etc, STCW Code A-VI/1-3, Canadian Equivalent Marine First Aid and CPR/AED. I am an Open Water Certified diver and completed various CYA & Canadian Power and Sail Squadron certifications which include Power/Sailboat handling, Seamanship Sail, Piloting/charting, CYA Coastal Navigation, GPS Navigation, Extended Offshore Cruising, VHF Radio operation license and a Toronto Harbour License. I am now providing skippered charters and yacht deliveries globally, including crew positions for offshore passages. However, my specialities are the Bahamas, US East Coast, The Great Lakes, Welland Canal, Erie Canal and the Adriatic Sea, Croatia, looking to add Greece. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]

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