Great story and video of the “rescue mission” that was undertaken by J/Boats co-founder Rodney Johnstone and his nephew Clay Burkhalter to sail their new J/99 ‘JAZZ’ to Bermuda from Stonington, CT with two friends of theirs. The goal was to deliver the owner of a beautiful 65-footer that lay on a mooring at St George’s Bay in eastern Bermuda. Their mission was successful, and it was a fast “delivery” on the slippery J/99 offshore speedster!
Upon reaching Bermuda, the team enjoyed an evening of R&R. But less than 48 hours after arriving, the intrepid duo of Rodney and Clay set back out to sea to sail the J/99 JAZZ back to Stonington, CT! The return trip was not the “walk-in-the-park” they had on their way down to Bermuda. In fact, quite the opposite.
They were both presented with many challenges, including the often capricious, unrelenting and punishing Gulf Stream. A “micro-Low” materialized that was not forecast at all, not surprisingly, over the massive northward moving “river” of the Gulf Stream. Such spontaneous “micro-climates” are not unknown and numerous sailing or motor vessels over time have succumbed to dreadful weather associated with such “micro-bombs”. Here is Rodney’s account of their delivery back from Bermuda to Stonington, CT:
“For starters, it was a great adventure and magical experience both ways. Clay and I had two days of light weather coming home, then two days of wild wind and waves through the Gulf Stream as we headed north, which accounts for our big course change to the west late Monday.
To make time, we motor-sailed most of the first 300 miles in benign Northeast winds under 10 knots. We then sailed with double-reefed main and 3.5 heavy weather jib the rest of the way in NE winds. We hit 30 knot winds and monster seas on the North side of Gulf Stream (see photo sequence above of their track). Huge, breaking waves everywhere. So, we took down the jib and sailed all night on a broad reach with double-reefed main only to stay away from the breaking seas with no “backs” (e.g. a wall).
The J/99 is very well behaved in that stuff. Easy to steer, so the autopilot had no problem staying the course on a dark, rough Monday night. For a while, it looked like we would make landfall at Atlantic City, NJ. As soon as we got onto the continental shelf, the turbulent waves subsided and got regular, and the winds let up to 20-25 knots. We then hoisted the jib and sailed upwind towards Stonington under clear sky and steady East wind…. all the way back from Bermuda to Stonington on starboard tack with jib and double-reefed main at about 6.5 knots!
What a trip back! It took us exactly five days to go the 635.0nm (as the crow flies, more like 725.0nm of actual sailing). Very exciting, and proof that the J/99 is fit for short-handed ocean sailing. Nothing broke or failed! I hope I get to do this sort of sailing trip again!” Thanks to Rodney J. for this report and being the intrepid adventurer that he is!
Click the pic below for the video