Crossing the Gulf Stream

It’s been 8 days since we left St Thomas to make our way back to the US and, all and all, it’s been a fairly easy trip.

Last night, running into a line of nasty squalls, was the most difficult day of the trip.  We had a few minor gear issues that required two of us on deck at midnight to fix an errant reefing line that had to be rerun a few times until we finally got it right.  And there were myriad issues that needed attention but are too numerous to list here.

We were also treated to a full moon that lent a bit of additional drama as we surfed along at 10 kts in big seas and nearly 30 kts of wind. I understand that there was also a lunar eclipse but somehow we missed that, perhaps due to all the excitement and efforts at managing the boat under difficult conditions.

It was certainly our most challenging night of the trip but it’s actually been a pretty uneventful run.  It seemed like I had to go up on deck a dozen times last night to check lines or make minor tweaks and repairs to keep things running smoothly.  It’s been a long time since I had to reef and un-reef so many times in a single night.

It was tough on all of us and I don’t think that I had more than perhaps a cat nap for 10 minutes before things calmed down around dawn when I was finally able to lie down for a few hours.

We also had 180 degree wind shift that happened in about 15 minutes, and was totally unexpected in spite of our downloading current weather information.  It took me a while to understand that it was a shift and not some sort of squall that was changing wind direction temporarily.

As I write this we are about 2/3 of the way across the Gulf Stream, that conveyor belt of warm water that moves up from the Gulf of Mexico nearly to the Arctic and back down past Northern Europe, tempering the climate for millions.    The amount of water that is moved by the current, often at up to 5 kts, is the largest moving body of water on the planet and a huge amount of heat is circulated from the tropics to the Arctic year round.   Imagine a body of water a mile deep and 50 or more miles wide moving at 5 kts 24/7, day after day for millions of years.  That’s a lot of water.

The Gulf Stream also marks the end of the trip for us as the entrance to the Chesapeake is only about 100 miles beyond the western wall of the Stream.

We still have another night at sea and come morning we will enter the Chesapeake and then in another 30 or so miles we will arrive at our destination.

One night more or not, crossing the Gulf Stream is a big deal and signifies  that we have come a long way.

Here’s to being mostly there!

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