Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My Love Affair with the Rasmus - A Guest Post by "Uncle Al" (Scott's Godfather)

Al, Will, Brittany and Scott at dinner
I want to merge this post with an "Awesome Person (People) of the Week" post and give a shout-out to  Scott's Godparents, Al and Willa Thiess, who have gone above and beyond for us wayward travelers.

Not only have they been completely and utterly supportive of our journey by way of emails and well wishes, they hosted us in Hilton Head as if we their own children!  They got a slip for Rasmus (thank you John and Monique Duffey!!), they put us up in a lovely cottage (with a KING bed!) and treated us to more than one fabulous meal.  They are wonderful people and we were so happy to spend the time with them....but the time was not over - as "Uncle Al" joined us aboard mighty Rasmus, and he has a few things to say about her!

My Love Affair With The Rasmus

My wife and I who live at Hilton Head Island were thrilled when Brittany and Scott told us they were stopping on their way south.  I met them in Beaufort, SC, and then accompanied them for the 25 miles from down the ICW to Hilton Head.  After a couple of days of rest and wine, they planned to leave on Sunday.  They wanted to run the next leg of their journey in the ocean, but there were full Gale warnings in effect on Sunday – thus the departure was moved to Monday when the weather was supposed to calm down.  And on Monday morning – we thought it did calm down.

By Monday morning, I had plied Brittany and Scott with enough food and wine to finagle a ride on the Rasmus to Florida and we set off at noon on Monday.  The first decision was important.  There are two exits from Hilton Head, the Port Royal Sound exit that is very deep water, and the Calibogue Sound exit to the south that is very shallow and shoaled.  Of course, the Port Royal exit was almost twenty miles farther to go south, so we had to make a call.  My son Brandon is the Captain of a charter fishing vessel so we turned to him for advice.  He told Scott that it’s easy to go out the south entrance - you just go to the south channel, find the last “green", make a thirty degree right turn, then go towards the three sticks, and then 100 yards short of the sticks, turn thirty degrees south and you’re out.  Which “green” Scott asked?  I don’t know!  What are the “sticks”?  I don’t know said Brandon.  Well, as you can imagine, we were all perplexed.  Finally, after kind of finding the “last green” and something that could be the “sticks” on a chart, Scott made the call to go that way.  It worked out well – we avoided the shoals and saved twenty miles.  Thus began the largest test yet of the Rasmus.

At first, it was just cold – at least for South Carolina.  While brisk, the wind was not bad and the seas were probably 2-4.  By nightfall, the wind had gone to 20-25 and the seas to 4-6, and they both continued to build.  My next watch was midnight to 3 am.  By that time, the seas were 6-8 and the winds were 25 to 30 with gusts to 35 – and it was colder.  It was then that my love affair with the Rasmus began.

I have done my share of sailing and racing in the Great Lakes and California - 20 years ago - on a number of boats, including some quite a bit larger than the Rasmus.  Never however, have I been on a boat like her.  There in the cold darkness, a series of steep eight footers would roll in off the beam with the boat healed over in 30 knots of breeze.  The bow would be eight feet above the wave in front of us and then falling toward it.  At the same time, the wave behind would be ready to ponce on us.  And the Rasmus wouldn’t flinch.  Instead, she would do a ballet dance over them and between them – one after another, just tip toeing from one wave to the next– and stable the whole time.

Then a surprise wave would hit at the same time from another angle – the kind of waves that cause most boats to shudder with a thunderous slamming sound – but not the Rasmus.  She would just cut through them with her full-length keel like a knife through warm butter - ready to begin the ballet dance all over again.  She danced through the evening, danced all night and was still dancing in the morning.  And how many times did Rasmus do this?  Well, I was once an accountant, so the answer is easy.  Let's see, a six second interval which makes 600 per hour, so for the 18 hours we were in the big seas, Rasmus did her little dance almost 11,000 times and never got tired.  Quite a lady!

Even though good sailors do not want to sail in these conditions, and seek to avoid them, being at the helm of Brittany and Scott’s boat last night was – well, fun.  I just have not seen anything like the Rasmus!

At 3:00 am this morning the spell that Rasmus had over me was broken when Brittany relieved me.  And what did she get - the wind and seas picked – UP!  While I am sure Brittany was in love with her boat before last night, at 3:00 am with the wind howling in the Atlantic, she looked just a little bit apprehensive.  When Scott and I got up at 6:00 am at the end of her watch, she was like a kid with a new favorite toy.  She had a grin – although a cold grin – on her face and said something like – “I get it - this isn’t just a boat I love, it’s a boat that loves me back, and a boat I can trust.”

I guess this is what I am trying to say to all of you out there in the Windtraveler blogosphere who follow Brittany and Scott on this journey - while things can always go wrong at sea, and usually something will, one thing none of you who follow them, or me, has to worry about is the mighty Rasmus.  She is a gentle lady with a heart of steel.  If any of you have the opportunity to go off shore with Brittany and Scott on the Rasmus – take it and enjoy the ballet ride.

Now we’re off to enjoy a day in St. Augustine, even though it's still cold.

“Uncle Al” Thiess
December 7, 2010


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

What a great post! I'm sure it's great to hear somebody else's perspective about your boat, and that it's a good one. Hope ours does as well as yours!

Serah said...

Aren't full keel boats a thing of beauty? We have a Douglas 32', same general shape as your baby, full keel with a cutaway forefoot. We've taken her out in some rather snotty weather on the Straight of Georgia in the PNW; like a dance is exactly how I'd describe it. No pounding, just graceful sliding through the heavy waves. After spending years racing in light displacement boats, I'm converted!

Love the blog; great inspiration to keep plugging away at our project until the day we leave...

Erin said...

We were sure the full keel was what we wanted for our next boat... the lessons we get to learn from Brittany and Scott are NOT being missed!!

Allen Tyson said...

Hey you two:-I recall a few Mac races on your Dad's boats where you felt secure at big seas and winds at 30+ knts.Helming has always been my favorite position. Even VisionsI I, gives that sense of Wow I can handle this.Great rides. Keep going strong, H&K Mr AJ

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