Early in our trip we encountered pretty strong winds, upwards of nearly 30kts sustained and Pandora handled it well. Conditions were wet and we were getting tossed around but with two reefs in the main she handled it well. In spite of water flying everywhere, we felt that the boat wasn’t laboring and we were moving at quite a clip of upwards to 8kts and sometimes more.
Most cruisers do not like to sail in aggressive conditions but sometimes it’s necessarily to get from here to there and it looks like we have some coming our way before we get to Antigua.
It’s Thursday and we are motorsailing along in light winds but making good time. We could probably sail, if a bit slower than we’d like, but we decided to keep pushing to catch up with the building trade winds that are supposed to fill in sometime tomorrow south of us.
As in most trips, the wind zones are divided into three segments with the middle one, where we are now, a high pressure area with little to no wind. Above that area and the first area we encountered as we headed out from Hampton, the winds are dominated by cold fronts coming off of the US east coast. The area below the high, sometimes called the Bermuda hi, is dominated by fairly consistent easterly trade winds.
These trade winds can be influenced by the size of the highs exiting the coast every few days and whether that hi is pushed north of south as the cold fronts push east.
This time of the year, as we get closer to December, the trades strengthen bringing with them what is often described as Christmas Winds, that make for very salty sailing.
As we get closer to Antigua, over the weekend, these trade winds, from the east, are expected to build until they are in the upper 20s and low 30s with waves on the beam of 10’ or more. However, those conditions will not fully arrive until late Monday and into Tuesday when things get the snottiest.
With this in mind, we are pushing along motorsailing with the hope of getting to the trades and to Antigua by Monday morning before things become nasty.
This is speculative as Monday, when the conditions are supposed to deteriorate, is still a ways off and things could change.
I am not sure it’s fair to say but I am not expecting that things would be worse, and hopefully better than that.
Anyway, we are making haste to join the trades by sometime tomorrow and burning some fuel with the hope of coming out ahead.
Over the next few days we will learn if big winds are heading our way, or not.
At least is smooth motorsailing for now. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.