In time for the wedding
No wonder the Marines at the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia looked a little surprised. When Aegir, Brian Benjamin’s Carbon Ocean 82, arrived there on its maiden voyage, it was Boxing Day and the eastern seaboard of the USA had been declared to be in a state of emergency, with blizzards affecting the entire coastline from Maine to South Carolina.
The brand new Carbon Ocean 82 had sailed there, 300 miles from Rhode Island, but Virginia was not it’s final destination, not by a long chalk. It was snowing heavily, but Norfolk’s astonishment turned to utter amazement, as Aegir only stopped for three days, before putting to sea once more.
“Arriving in Norfolk was pretty memorable,” admitted Aegir crew member, Ruaraidh Plummer. “It was not far off a full-on blizzard. We docked, slept and then woke up to a foot of snow covering the deck. After a few snowball fights and a decent rest with solid meals and a spot of boat maintenance, we got our next weather window and so we were off again.”
Benjamin’s dazzling new Carbon Ocean 82 is destined for the British Virgin Islands to fulfil its first duty, as a wedding carriage for the owner’s daughter, Kerry. Boat captain, Shreda Duke, has hundreds of thousands of sea miles under his belt, including the Volvo Ocean Race, he is one of the most respected and experienced in the business.
“Safety is always my first consideration when I am running a boat and if I didn’t think it was right to take this trip, we wouldn’t have left the dock. It was a cold one, until we got passed the Gulf Stream. But we prepared well, analysed the weather and we knew what our limits should be.”
While the Caribbean is notorious for its balmy conditions, blue seas and brilliant sunshine, for the first few days of the delivery, the conditions on deck were bitterly cold as typified by Jo Chatterton, resorting to stuffing a hot water bottle inside her jacket, just to keep out the chill North Atlantic air. Down below, surroundings were quite different; Aegir is fitted out to an impeccable standard with a master cabin, generous guest cabin and additional crew quarters complimented by a saloon fit for a luxury hotel. Below deck and off watch, the six crew enjoyed a comfortable rest in palatial surroundings. Moral was boosted by Ship’s Cook, Rebecca, serving up some gourmet winter-warmers from the fully equipped galley.
In extreme conditions, it took Aegir just over two days to reach the Gulf Stream from Virginia with the boat showing remarkable speed and excellent reliability. Shreda Duke reported in, about 1000 miles from their final destination.
“All is well here on the high sea and we are through the Gulf Stream. We had a very calm crossing with wind and current together. In the last 12-hours, the water temperature has jumped from 2ºC to 22ºC and layers of long-worn smelly thermals are being discarded with joy. We are sailing into a high pressure system, so winds will begin to lighten over the next 24 hours and we are hoping to get a wash down in. It has being far too long since Aegir has seen some soapy mitts.”
Once into the tropics, Aegir experienced very light winds, arriving in Tortola, BVI on 3 January completing the 1680-mile voyage after just over seven days at sea, averaging 240 miles per day.
“That was one of the most comfortable trips I have ever made to the Caribbean,” commented Shreda, dockside in Tortola. “The boat was extremely manageable and showed a good turn of speed, so much so that we only had to motor-sail for about one and a half hours. After the chilly departure from Newport, we experienced some fantastic Trade Wind conditions, where our main problem was slowing the boat down. Aegir was also extremely slippery in light air, the boat performed very well."
“I am almost lost for words,” grinned owner Brian Benjamin, at the helm of Aegir, surfing down Caribbean rollers in 20 knots of warm air. “Shreda and his team did a terrific job getting Aegir here with three days to spare before the wedding. But the whole team at Carbon Ocean Yachts and Rogers Yacht Design has done a fantastic job, beyond my expectations. Already the boat seems like a home-from-home. Aegir is going to give the bride and groom an unforgettable honeymoon. Next month, the race team will arrive and I am thoroughly looking forward to putting Aegir through her paces in race mode.”
Brian Benjamin’s Carbon Ocean 82, Aegir will be making her racing debut on 21 February in Antigua, competing in the RORC Caribbean 600.