Being on the water is in Anne Alberg’s DNA. Her great-great-grandfather Anders Persson’s boat is displayed in the harbor in Boren, Sweden. Beginning with several boating vacations to Desolation Sound in British Columbia around the age of 10, Anne has dreamed of sailing to faraway places like the South Pacific, Croatia, Myanmar and Belize. Sailing to Captain Anne has always been about freedom, adventure, exploration and discovery. In addition, it is a captivating and magical feeling being at the helm connecting as one with yourself, the boat and the wind. Anne also loves the social side of spending time with like-minded people sharing stories, learning from their experiences and connecting over their mutual love of sailing.
Currently, a group of students is preparing to embark on a voyage from Bermuda to the British Virgin Islands. On that voyage, students will earn their ASA 108 and ASA 117 certifications while instructors will earn ASA 208 and ASA 217.
ASA 108, Offshore Passagemaking Learn to skipper a sailing vessel on extended offshore passages requiring celestial navigation. Knowledge of long-term passage planning, offshore vessel selection, sail repair, offshore first aid, watch-keeping, emergency procedures, abandon ship protocols, safety and seamanship.
ASA 117, Basic Celestial Endorsement Learn to apply basic celestial navigation theory and practice to determine latitude and longitude at sea using a sextant and Nautical Almanac.
Instructor Evaluator, Captain David Renoll of R & R Charter and Sail School is leading the courses and shared his thoughts on the first leg of this voyage.
In this guest post, Captain Tony Wall of Biscayne Bay Sailing Academy recounts delivering a 46′ sloop–while managing the effects of a nearby hurricane.
As a professional sailing instructor and USCG captain, I was contracted to sea trial a 46′ Bruce Roberts sloop named Harmony. Everything went satisfactorily, the deal went through, and the new owner, Veli-Matti Alho, asked me if I would be interested in delivering the yacht from Port Everglades to Galveston, Texas, crossing the Gulf of Mexico. My work schedule did not permit this, but I offered to teach him the ASA certifications Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Cruising, with extensive practical offshore and advanced passage-making, during a trip from Port Everglades down to Key West.
Beautiful weather accompanied our trip south to Miami, and we sailed into Biscayne Bay for a night of rest on the dock. Engine/charging problems meant we could not re-start the engine, so we were required to sail through the Biscayne Ship Channel in the dark without auxiliary power–a daunting prospect, but successfully accomplished. Several days of repairs followed, during which Veli and I tracked the weather closely.
A late season tropical storm was developing into Hurricane Ida and heading rapidly west of Cuba heading for the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm hurtled up the gulf, Miami experienced gale force winds from the east–a good direction but not for us! Harmony strained the docklines, safely tied up at Dinner Key Marina. The third day brought 20-25 knots from the south, and rather than heading straight into it, we waited for a better window. Day four’s forecast was 20-25 knots north-west–there was our chance!
We left Biscayne Bay around 10:00am with full sail–a conventional mainsail and a 150% genoa. By late afternoon approaching Key Largo, I suggested we put on the heavy-air staysail and put a single reef in the mainsail to reduce the overall sail area in a balanced way.
Since our draft was 6ft 8ins, our strategy was to head south and south west outside the reef, rather than going inside the Hawk Channel, which would require too much concentration (especially considering we were hand steering). Overnight, as expected, the wind accelerated to 20 plus knots with gusts into the upper 20s. We were able to progressively take in the large furling genoa from the cockpit to reduce the force on the rig. Flying the staysail only in a situation like this is a great example of the offshore flexibility of the cutter rig.
We were running on the ocean side of the barrier reef that extends all the way down the keys, from near Key Biscayne to Key West, a total of 150 miles. Dawn came slowly–all night we were sailing at hull speed or above, pushing towards 9 knots of speed. It was an exhilarating sail, but definitely hard work and not conducive to sleep! When dawn finally came, I took this video of the boiling sea to starboard (north and north west) and encouraging light from golden-red sunrise off our port quarter.
As we approached Key West, we realized that we had covered 154 nautical miles in 22 hours–certainly the fastest voyage I had ever made. The moral of the story is to choose your weather window carefully to ensure favorable winds, and to be ready for deteriorating conditions by reefing down early. With a prepared boat and crew, you can manage strong weather and use it to your advantage.
Captain Tony Wall
Lead Instructor, Biscayne Bay Sailing Academy
Tel 954 243 4078