Tuesday, November 27

The Passage, Part 1

We were as ready as we were ever going to be.  The high priority projects that pertained to the safety and comfort of the boat and crew were completed.  The list of remaining boat projects had to be put aside as we cast off the dock lines.  We had spent the past 2 weeks working our fingers to the bone, enduring sleepless nights and 15 hour days getting ready.  Not to mention the little hiccup along the way named Sandy!  We had a lot of help from Por Dos (thanks again!) as they graciously let us tag along to the various stores for provisions and a helping hand getting stubborn projects done.  Don't worry, it wasn't all work and no play though.  We had the Salty Dawg Rally activities and many meals and wine with Por Dos!

I will try not to bore you with the minute details of each day, but rather the highlights of our 11 day passage.

We left Hampton, VA. at noon on a chilly Friday afternoon, November 9th.  The  sun was bright and high in the sky, the wind was very light as we motored out of the marina.  The forecast called for 30-35 knots from the north all the way to the Gulf Stream, 120 miles east.  We waited until noon to leave on purpose even though many boats left in the morning.  The Gulf Stream can get pretty ugly with a northerly component to the wind, making the seas confused and big.  The seas were predicted to decrease in size significantly as the days passed.  We were not in a hurry, so we decided an uneventful trip across the Gulf Stream was a wise choice.
We were, unfortunately, met with no wind right from the start!  Where were those northerly 30 knots, we wondered. This did not seem like a good omen, nor was it how we wanted to start off our 1500 mile passage.  We were forced to  motor with both engines into the night.  It was so bleak, we even took the sails down.
Water Temperature: 58F
SOG (speed over ground):  6 knots

Leaving Blue Water Yachting Center

View of Hampton, VA as we pulled out

 Por Dos leaving at the same time, sailing to the Bahamas

So long our friends, Mark, Marta, Alec and Roan

 Happy to be going to the Caribbean!
The wind picked up a bit in the morning as we raised the sails on a broad reach at 10-12 knots.  By noon the wind was inconsistent at less than 10 knots.  We entered the Gulf Stream at 1:30 pm.  We could see the large rolling waves miles before we entered the GS.  It was a bit intimidating to say the least to look out over the calm horizon and see these big rolling waves that you knew you had to go through.  Once we entered the Gulf Stream the wind quickly picked up on our beam and we turned the motors off and were sailing at a brisk pace.  We passed 2 fellow Salty Dawg monohulls, Goldilocks and Dragon's Toy.  I spotted a third boat on our stern that night, off in the distance.  The crew settled into a routine quickly, playing games when it was calm or watching a movie when the engines were on.
Water Temperature: 61.3F before the GS; 77.4F in the GS
SOG: 8.8-10.7

 Sunset in the Gulf Stream

Girls sleeping in the salon - sometimes it's too rough to sleep in their cabin.  Kate often sleeps outside in the cockpit.  She doesn't like to sleep in her cabin while on passage.  Usually Maggie and Liv sleep together b/c Maggie can't sleep in her cabin at the front of the boat (way too bouncy).

The wind was decreasing and the port engine was turned on.  As the water temperature rose, the air temperature also increased.  It was notably warmer and we slowly shed some layers during the sunny daytime hours.  The deep blue color of the water was beautiful as we spied 2 whale spouts off in the distance.  We lost our computer as a glass of water was spilled into the back vents.  This was not a good thing!  We didn't have a back up (perhaps foolish on our part) and this was the only way we could receive our weather routing information.  It was a sad sad day on Anything Goes.  Luckily we were within VHF range of Dragon's Toy, who updated us on the weather.   There was a possible tropical Low pressure system forming southwest of our position. During the late night hours, the wind increased to 25 knots and we were sailing with a double reefed main.  Everyone on board seemed to be managing the whole sea sickness thing with round the clock dramamine or the scope patch.
We both witnessed nearly countless shooting stars that lit up the water below and the clouds above.
Water Temperature:  73.7F
SOG: 7.3 knots

Wendy going off watch, Craig rested and ready for his watch.  This was a big transition day as I wore my hat and foul weather gear during the night and Craig is now wearing his t-shirt for the first time.

 Sailing in a t-shirt and shorts - Yee Haw!

Kate assuming her reading position.  This child is amazing, reading in all sea conditions!

Look at that water - so clear and beautiful

Do you know the saying "Yellow sky in the morning, sailors take warning and Red sky at night, sailors delight"?  Well, there was a very yellow sky that looked spectacular, but I was hoping that it wouldn't hold up to it's namesake.  The seas were building and we had to turn more south in order to stay comfortable.  We had strong winds all day and threatening thunderstorms to keep us on our toes.  It was sunny and warm, the first day in shorts and a t-shirt.  The seas were choppy and by the end of the day, the swells were 10-11 feet.  Let me just say that when you are in the trof of an 11 foot swell and you have to look up to see the top of the wave, it's just a tad bit intimidating.  That's higher than most peoples ceilings!  We were still sailing under a double reefed main on a beam reach by nightfall.  We spotted another boat off our stern, way out on the horizon, but never learned her name.
Water Temperature:  74.8F
SOG:  6 - 7.7 knots

Squall on the horizon as the sun comes up

Rainbows everywhere

More squalls throughout the day and the entire 11 day trip

We have sailed as far south as the Florida/Georgia border.  We did a little hand steering to cool off the autopilot, as it was working hard the day before and into the night.  As the wind let up, we shook out a reef while listening to Jimmy Buffet, dreaming of our arrival in paradise.  There was no yellow sky in the morning, thank goodness.  The seas were choppy and big but began to reduce in size by afternoon.  As the sun set on the big ocean blue, the wind picked up and we were sailing under a double reef again.  The sky was clear and filled with millions and millions of stars.  We had to make more progress east, so we could take advantage of the trade winds that blow from the ENE.  It was not very comfortable to say the least.  However, the air temperature was so warm, I didn't need a jacket on my nighttime watch.
We got settled in our night watch routine.  As it turned out, I did the 7 pm to 12/1 am shift and Craig did the 1 am to 6 am shift.  Then it was my turn again.  We took naps during the day as necessary and it seemed to work well for us.  If we were feeling good, then we'd let the other one sleep a little longer and vice versa.
Water Temperature:  76.3F
SOG:  6-7 knots

We found a flying fish in our sailing dinghy (that sits inside our motor dinghy on the davits while we are underway).  Craig put it in the freezer to use as future bait.

Liv playing her invented game of a ping pong ball attached to a string, trying to make a hole in one in the paper cup on the floor.  The kids get pretty creative at passing the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment