The first time out in bad weather.

Trip report:

I left for Avalon on Friday amid blue sky, warm air and sunshine. Upon arrival and with a small audience, I positioned Ripley on her mooring like I had done it thousands of time. In fact it was only the second time.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were wonderful, with warm summer weather and lots of sunshine. On Saturday morning I found gremlins in the Generator. It ran great, but made no electricity. After a few choice words, a trip to Chet’s hardware and a major MacGyverism, the old generator was cranking out power and the trip was saved.

Sunday night\Monday morning at 4am the wind started howling, I could hear things on the deck blowing around, I ran up on deck as the harbor boat passed by, his blaring light giving every one awake an excellent view of me in my undies. Once I gathered up all the lose items on deck, including my dignity and pride, I climbed back in bed to try and sleep.

At 7:30am, there were dark clouds here and there, but the winds had long since gone. We dropped the lines and headed for open water. I set the autopilot for 5 degrees and poured myself a diet coke. (breakfast of champions!) Around 5 miles out, the swells increased to around 8 feet and waters surface was agitated from wind. We were entertained by an extremely large pod of dolphins that enjoyed leaping out of the water as they jockeyed for position to ride the bow wake. This entertainment lasted for 45 minutes. It was a really large pod!

About 5 miles away from the breakwall in Long Beach, We passed through the leading edge of a storm cell. All I can say is Wow! I thought it was going to rip the bimini off the boat. Water was pouring down the sides faster than any water hose I have ever seen. The scuppers on the stern were like two waterfalls. The salon windows were constantly awash with salt water from waves and spray. The pilot house wipers were running fast and hard. Ripley bounced around like a rubber ball in a dryer. I looked back at our large dink in tow and it was literally getting airborne. We slowed to about 7 knots and the dink decided to stop its flying fish imitation. Regardless, I put my pocket knife in my pocket in case I needed to cut it lose. The last 5 miles to Angels gate was the worst weather I have seen while on a boat. We literally held on to anything we could. I kept looking at the chart data and thinking, just a little further… We finally passed through the gate and in a few minutes we were cruising in much calmer waters. We strapped on a few fenders and put Ripley back in the slip without any problems.

I must say, owning this boat since July, I was hoping to have “this” trip later on, once I had more experience with the boat and her handling characteristics. Regardless, I must confess, I am extremely pleased with her performance. Not once did I fell that she was out of control, or losing the battle with the ocean; rather I felt she was taking her time and using persistence to accomplish the task at hand. In fact, I never felt the need to turn the autopilot off.
She earned her keep on Monday, so I’ve decided to give the girl a day at the spa – what girl wouldn’t like a polish and wax?

I love my boat more now, than the day I bought her.