In the Clutches of the Gulf Stream

It’s Sunday morning and we are making good time and are about 1/3 of the way to Hampton, VA, our likely stopping point before we head up the Chesapeake to Annapolis, our final destination.  We are currently about 90 miles offshore from Georgia and have turned toward the NE to follow the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream roughly parallels the coastline and the edge of the Continental Shelf, where the bottom drops from 200′ or less to a half mile or more and after going north along the Florida coast, we have worked our way to a more North East course and as the coastline bears more to the NE, so does the current of the Stream.

We departed Ft Pierce yesterday morning in near windless conditions, as expected, based on our discussions with Chris Parker who said that he expected us to pick up decent SW winds sometime on Sunday, today.

However, even though the winds have filled in pretty well, now in the mid-teens, it’s from the SW and pretty much behind us so the apparent wind isn’t quite enough to make any decent speed.  As a result, more than 24 hours into our trip we are still running the engine, albeit at a somewhat lower RPM, given the push from the wind behind us.  That’s good as it conserves fuel, although I have plenty given the fact that our total run is only about 700 miles and we do expect to be able to sail perhaps 1/3 of the way or more.

As of today I’ve been aboard for a week and I am happy to be underway.  Getting to Pandora last Sunday and having to address the leak in the new refrigerator was really frustrating and having someone aboard installing the new forward AC unit, tiring.  In retrospect, that install was quite simple and I expect that I could have easily done it myself.

However, I am really glad to have the unit in place an even though the aft unit remains to be dealt with, and being able to retreat to the forward cabin when it is hot a real treat.

Interestingly, the forward AC unit is wired to work underway via the inverter, so when we are under power, in flat conditions, which they are, I have been able to run the AC, through the inverter, which has made a huge difference in comfort.   I have never tried this before and am surprised at how well it works.

Dick and I have taken turns sleeping in the forward cabin that has been kept at a very comfortable mid 70s, which is a lot more comfortable than the 90 degrees of the main cabin.  Actually, with the AC unit running and the door to the cabin open, it’s keeping things aft somewhat cooler.

Most of my long runs in the past have been on the wind and I would hesitate to run the unit in those conditions as the water rushing by the water intake, while heeling, creates some suction and puts strain on the water-cooling pump for the unit.  Additionally, the condensation from the drip pan on the unit would have spilled all over the place.  With this in mind, the next time Pandora is out of the water, I will install a small scoop on the water intake, much as I have done on the watermaker and refrigeration to avoid that suction problem.  Additionally, I will install another condensate drain outlet on the port side of the new AC unit so that it can drain regardless of which tack we are on.  At the moment, the only drain is on the port side, and that means that if we are on a port tack, heeling to starboard, the pan will spill over and make quite a mess.  I’ll be sure to do that on the aft unit as well.

However, an overflowing drip pan isn’t an issue on this run yet as we aren’t going very fast, about 6-6.5kts, and are sitting quite level, and the unit seems to be performing nicely.

I should note that while our through-the-water speed is modest, our over-the-bottom speed, with the GS adding an additional 3-4kts, our speed made good is a very respectable 9.5 to 10.5kts.  We are making quite good time and will remain under the influence of the GS until we get to Cape Hatteras, the bulk of our trip.

We were thinking of stopping somewhere, perhaps Charleston, for a few days but with good passage conditions and the threat of Covid-19 just about everywhere on shore, we decided to just keep going and not to stop until we get to the Chesapeake.

I do expect that we will opt to stop somewhere along the way but if the sailing is good, who knows.

For now, it’s nice to be underway, on my way home and away from the torment of fixing broken stuff.  Sure, there’s still more to do but that can wait until Annapolis.

For now, I am happy to be moving along in the clutches of the Gulf Stream, helping us make our way north.

That’s all for now.  Stay tuned.

3 responses to “In the Clutches of the Gulf Stream

  1. Bob,
    Charleston is beautiful, but If you have a good weather window to Hatteras, I would stay on the ‘magic carpet.’ Assuming no storms, my only decision would be when to turn/veer left to Montauk.
    Do you have PW Pro, or does Chris Parker tell you where the Gulfstream bends? We had to sail windward, and against that stream, abet wider so ‘only’ 2-kts, for 450nm off the NW coast of Africa – not fun!
    If the inverter can handle the compressor start surge, then you are good. Unconditional is not wired like that, but with a BSEE degree, I could change that. We will see next year… Sail Safe!
    Tom

  2. I am glad you’re safe! Happy Father’s Day, we just tried calling. We love you and cannot wait to talk soon!

  3. Larry Shields

    Bob, continued safe travels and happy Fathers’ Day.

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