Monthly Archives: January 2017

On Our Way, As Planned

It’s Friday morning and we are about a third of the way to the BVI with an average speed for the first 400 miles of about 7.5kts.  That’s not too shabby but an important speed as that’s what it will take for us to reach an important waypoint off of the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic where we have been told we will run into a cold front on Monday.

The plan is for us to outrun the front by being to a position south of the frontal boundary that is expected to stretch from approximately 24 degrees north and 65 degrees west to 22 degrees north to 68 degrees west near the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic.  When we left Beaufort on Wednesday morning Chris Parker, our weather router, predicted that we’d have to be past that line by about 18:00 on Monday in order to outrun the front and gale force winds in excess of 30kts with gusts in the 40-45 range.

To be able to outrun the front we would have to maintain an average speed of 7.5kts overall.  The good news is that as of today we have been able to do that but now the forecast has changed with the front expected to be in our way about 12 hours sooner.  This means that we will likely encounter strong winds for about 12 hours or so.   The good news is that the wind will be behind us from the NE but may be pushing waves in the 15-20′ range.  However, they shouldn’t persist for that long as we are able to pass the front.  Unfortunately, it is possible that the front will be moving south at about the same speed we will be going so I guess that we will just have to be prepared and see what happens as we get closer to Monday and the front.

Of course, that’s a long way off and much can change.  I’ll be speaking with Chris again on Saturday, tomorrow morning to see what, if anything, has changed.

Anyway, I left CT on Monday to drive to Beaufort, an 11-12 hour ride.  With stops and some “coming home from grandmas home” traffic near Baltimore, the ride ended up taking about 14 hours with me arriving at Pandora around 01:30 on Tuesday morning.  I was really tired.

Tuesday was spent scrambling around getting last minute provisions in advance of the arrival of my crew.  Somehow we got everything done and left the dock to get fuel by 07:30 on Wednesday.  What a rush, but in a bad way.  I was exhausted.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I had been frustrated by a total lack of communication from the guy working on the replacement ports on the boat and while the job was “finished” I have to say that his work was pretty rough and in the case of the cockpit window, very messy.  I also noticed that while the cockpit window was out it must have rained as there was some water damage on a bulkhead in the aft cabin. I am hopeful that I will be able to clean it up and perhaps bleach the wood to get the black staining out.  Fingers crossed.  However, rest assured that I will not pay the full invoice, if I ever get it, and may opt to say “sorry pal” and not pay anything at all to cover the pain and suffering along with the damage to the woodwork below.  I am sure that he put in several days of work and won’t be happy.  However, he knew of my departure plans and did not submit a bill to the marina or me by that time and it was clear that the job was not even completed.  Fortunately, the work is at least watertight so I can wait till a future date to fix any remaining issues.   So much for “remote control” of boat repairs.

Oh yeah, remember the other job?  You know, the one to install the new charger/inverter?  That was done but, as I had feared, with all the other equipment that he had to remove in the nav-station to get the new unit in place, he was, shall we say, less than meticulous in labeling wires that needed to be reconnected when he was done.  So, while the unit itself works, the 110 outlet on the nav station doesn’t work now and the wire itself leading to the plug doesn’t have power at all.  Who knows how hard it’s going to be to trace down that problem.   That’s disappointing.  However, not nearly as frustrating as the fact that he had not reconnected the SSB wiring correctly so I was unable to use my radio to get an updated weather forecast from Chris on Tuesday.   The SSB email modem was also reinstalled incorrectly.  Between the two units it took me until Wednesday evening before it was all sorted out.  Very frustrating.  And to make matters worse, it was very rough so trying to sort through problems while bouncing around in large seas was not pleasant at all.  Chris Parker was so concerned that he had not heard from me that he contacted Brenda.

Fortunately, Brenda knew what was going on as I had texted her on my new Delorme tracker to let her know what the problem was.  I can only think what Brenda would have done if she had not heard from me.  It would have been terribly upsetting.

This experience, once again, reinforces my feeling that it is critical that I do as much work on Pandora as possible myself so that when things go wrong, I can fix them.   Better yet, do the work the right way first and there won’t be a need to fix things, especially when I am at sea.

And speaking of “at sea”, we got off to a really rough start but those strong winds and waves made for some very fast sailing with speeds sometimes approaching 10kts and even higher a few times.   It was pretty amazing to see the waves roll by with the phosphorescence of the breaking crests glowing green in the darkness.   I don’t believe that Brenda would have been pleased at all with the conditions.   Nope, not a bit.

So, as I write this we are sailing along on a close reach at about 7.5kts, the speed that we must maintain if we have any hope of outrunning that front.  Chris thinks that the wind will die later today and then pick up from a SE direction.  Anyway, our trip so far has been fairly uneventful, setting aside the “technical issues” I have gone on and on about, if a bit “sporty” for the first 24 hours.

When the wind dies later today I think that we will all shower in the cockpit and perhaps do a bit of fishing.

Interestingly, this trip at 1,200 miles is about 150 longer than any I have taken to date without stopping.  It will also take me farther from shore than I have been, about 300 miles from land.   Actually, as I write this, we are at the point furthest from land that we will be for the trip.

Well, we did get underway as planned even if I was exhausted from a full day of driving followed by a day of frantic provisioning in anticipation of my crew arriving on Tuesday afternoon.   I don’t know why it is that all my trips involve a few days of frantic preparation and some time spent sorting out problems that crop up after we are underway. Well, at least I am usually am able to “sort.”   I guess that’s what sailing is all about.

Well, that’s my report.  And don’t forget that you can follow our progress by clicking on the button “Where in the World is Pandora.”

Stay tuned.

That’s all for now.