Chilly Delivery of Balera from Yorktown to Herring Bay

March 25, 2017 0 By Captain Jim

I bought the boat from the original owner in Norfolk, VA.  The boat was bare-bones when I bought it but was immaculate.  The Yanmar diesel had very little hours on it.

I made an offer on the boat in October of 2007 and after negotiations I bought it and took delivery in December.   We sailed it from Norfolk to Herrington Harbor (about 100 miles) in the middle of December.  It was a very cold delivery but fortunately I had 2 friends and one crew who helped me deliver the boat.


Because the boat had no name when I bought it, I decided to name it Balera.  In Latin-American, the name Balera means – strong. The name Balera originated as an Latin-American name.  During the delivery, which lasted 19 hours, the boat was amazingly strong and capable the entire trip.  A nor’easter had passed just before we left and there was a weather window with winds veering from the north to the south.  During the delivery seas were not too rough but air temperatures were in the low 30’s.  We survived by having one experienced man on helm and one inexperienced man on watch with 4 hour crew changes.  We kept an alcohol heater (Origo) down below in a milk crate so when off-watch we thawed out.  We all knew what to expect so we were prepared with plenty of warm layers.  Originally, our plan was to make the delivery over 2-3 days but about the time when we were preparing to shove off, the forecast changed with another expected nor’easter in as early as 24 hours.  Our plans changed and we headed north non-stop.


Jim Benone at the helm.  The only electronics that Balera had were VHF/GPS below at the nav station and a depth guage at the helm.  There was no autopilot and the wind instruments consisted of a telltale in the rigging.


Paul Dale getting ready for watch.

Balera has an US Spars Z-Spar  in-mast roller furler.  I was not familiar with the design or usage of the furler system, having only been briefed on it during sea trials.  Because of various delays between leaving Alexandria and departing from the York River Yacht Haven, when we left the sun was just going down.  We had to negotiate the crab pots and fish traps in Mobjack Bay before we were able to get out to open water in the bay.  When we got into open water, I decided to unfurl the main sail.  By this time it was dark and the winds had picked up to 15-20kts.  The main sail jammed in the mast slot but we were able to get it down so we lashed the sail to the boom and put the hammer down on the diesel.  The delivery quickly changed from a pleasant multi-day sail to a focused mission.


We arrived at Herrington Harbor 19 hours after we left, which came as a surprise to Bill, who offered to give us a ride back to Alexandria.  My only regret of the trip is that I did not take pictures of our arrival at Herrington.  Other than the in mast main sail situation, the trip turned out great.  I have since bought a new main sail and have learned that the main reason the main sail had so many problems is the sail was old and not as crisp as the new main.

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