Friday, November 30

The Passage, Part II

Maggie took her first 6 am watch!  I got to bed an hour earlier, which allowed Craig to go to bed an hour earlier and we both could sleep longer.  Yippee!  It was sunny and calm when I came up from my sleep and Maggie reported a sailboat off our starboard stern.  There was no wind and no waves to speak of except for the lingering swells slowly rolling by.  We hove to and jumped in to celebrate with a halfway party, complete with a freshly baked pineapple upside down cake!
The morale increased by ten fold when we jumped in the water.  It was so warm and clear and soooo very refreshing.  Especially since the only 'bath' we had was done using baby wipes.  You can imagine how good it felt to get my hair wet and actually wash it.  We were once again revived and motivated to keep going (as if we had any other option).  We saw one little fish while we were enjoying our swim.  He was very curious as he hung out under the boat the entire time.
Water Temperature:  78.5F
SOG: 0 - 6 knots

750 miles down, 750 miles to go!

Olivia jumping off the side of the boat

9.0 - his toes are crossed

BVI's or Bust

The beginning part of the night was windless and loud with the motors running.  There were no boats in sight as the waxing moon set over the western night sky.  The shooting stars were unreal, there were so many.  And the phosphorescence was so bright and exciting to watch.  It was like bright shining rhinestones trailing behind each pontoon and flowing out from the splashing waves on the side of the boat.  As Craig came on watch, the wind started to fill in.
Water Temperature:  78.3G
SOG:  7 knots

By morning, the wind had picked up enough to raise the sails.  It turned out to be great conditions for a perfect sail.  As the wind steadily increased, so did the squalls.  We had multiple throughout the day.  In fact, we hit 30 knots and took the main and the jib down and motored parallel to the waves.  As nightfall came, Craig encountered a lot of lightning in the area, so he put all our electronics in the microwave and oven for safe keeping.  Luckily, we never had any lightning directly overhead.  In the wee hours of the morning, slowly we were able to shake the reefs out and sail once again.
Water Temperature:  80.3F
SOG:  5-7 knots

 Taking in a nap

We still had one reef in when the sun came up behind the clouds.  We could see that things were clearing up a bit in the east.  Craig reported that neither one of our bilge pumps was working properly.  Hmmm, they worked before we left.  As the day wore on and the wind was predicted to die the following day, we were all stricken with a bout of depression knowing we would not make it to the BVI's by the end of day 10.  We were really concerned we would run out of fuel and immediately went into super duper hyper conservation mode.  We didn't use the lights or the autopilot that night in hopes to conserve whatever energy we made during the day. It was brutal hand steering all night.  I literally dozed off while standing up at the wheel.  I think that is hard to do.  I awoke with the sudden downward motion of my head.  The southern direction of the wind continued to push us west, which was also a problem.  We were supposed to be heading more east.  The morale on the boat had stooped to an all time low.
Water Temperature:  81.9F
SOG:  4.5 knots

 More after the other!

Where there is rain and sunshine, there are beautiful rainbows!

Craig did a few calculations and determined we had 48 gallons of fuel left.  Things were suddenly looking brighter.  Then he actually used a pre-marked fuel dipstick to check the tank and he was right on the money!  Yippee.  We might make it there after all.  Things were definitely looking brighter.  We turned on a motor and were going at a snails pace, but at least we were going.  We had 209 miles to go yet.  We definitely wouldn't make it by day 10.  But our spirits were rising as we thought we might make it in the next 48 hours. We joked with s/v Celebration that it was a little like Groundhog Day, waking up with new hope and were met with the same southerly head wind day in and day out.  We made very slow progress.  At each watch switch we hoped things would improve.  I think we made a measly 70 miles instead of the usual 120 miles.
Water Temperature:  82.3F
SOG:  5 knots

DAY 10
Need I write another day of southerly head winds.  Or can I just write "Groundhog Day" and you'll get the picture??
At around 10 pm we entered a big storm.  Although we didn't know it was that big until it was over.  The wind picked up quickly from the west at 25 knots.  Before we knew it, we were sailing fast, skipping over the waves and trying to stay dry in the monsoon like downpour.  All of a sudden it was over.  The wind stopped and the rain stopped.  One part of me was relieved it was over because it makes me uneasy to be in those conditions at night.  The other part of me was bummed because we had to turn the motors back on because there was no wind.  Then, as quickly as it stopped, the wind completely changed directions and whipped up to 25 knots from the southeast.  And the rain, I mean monsoon, resumed as well.  We were screaming along at 8-10 knots.  We sailed 40 miles in that 5 hour storm.  We were elated with our progress and knew we had a definite possibility of making it to the BVI's by day 11.
During the storm, our sailing dinghy, nested inside our other dinghy, filled with gallons water.  No big deal really, except we had put our garbage bag in there for safe keeping until we made landfall.  Once we realized the garbage bag was there, it was too late.  The bag had been sloshed back and forth so many times, it exploded.  Then there was soggy trash sloshing back, forth and over the edge with every wave.  Oh, this gets even better.  I clipped myself to the radar arch and had to extract the soggy gross trash out of the dinghy with the monsoon rain pelting my head and keep my balance as we thrashed in the waves.  I got about half of it done and then Craig did the rest.
Water Temperature:  83.4F
SOG:  8-10 knots

Last sunset on our passage!
DAY 11
Groundhog Day!  Imagine that, more southerly head winds.  We passed over the Puerto Rican Trench, where the water depth is over 24,000 feet deep.  We were moving at a snails pace with one engine going, lamenting how we were never going to make it to the BVI's when I proposed we turn both engines on and make a run for it.  We did more calculations and decided to go for it.  We would make it to Gorda Sound on diesel fumes if we had to.  With that plan, we were once again very excited about getting there before midnight.  We put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, and sprinted to the finish.  I baked some brownies to celebrate as we pulled into the mooring field at the Bitter End Yacht Club at 7:30 pm.

 Filling out customs and immigration forms

Virgin Gorda as we woke up the next morning.....ahhhhh, feels so good and so worth it!

Bitter End Yacht Club

View looking north

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