It’s Saturday morning just after dawn and the sun has risen in brilliant yellow on the eastern horizon. We are sailing along in about 15-18 knots on a close reach, still working to put some miles to the east in the bank, anticipating that the wind will freshen to the low 20s as we get closer to Antigua, making if more difficult to hold our course in waves that will likely build to 10’ before we round the southern side of Antigua and arrive in English Harbor.
I am always trying to predict when we will make landfall when I am on passage and that desire to know “when will we get there?” is alway just below the surface, it becomes an obsession as we get into the trade winds and Pandora is reliably ticking off mile after mile.
Will we average 7.5 or perhaps 8kts between here in Antigua for the last 450 miles? It’s hard to say but one thing for sure is that the forecast is for conditions to deteriorate as we get closer, with wind in the upper 20s and increased squalls to the mid 30s, conditions that are doable but unpleasant, for sure.
The sense of urgency is driven by a desire to finish the run but also by fear of being caught in the unpleasant conditions coming our way late Monday and into Tuesday, when I sincerely hope and expect to be snug in port.
Another driver for me to know “when” is that there are so many unknowns, hanging over my head after the weeks of delays in getting the rally started. How am I going to schedule arrival events when the fleet is spread over nearly a thousand square miles and their arrival will likely happen over a period of a week or more?
And, the less than subtle pressure I am feeling of when I will fly home knowing that I already have a flight that I booked, the day after our likely arrival. Yes, that’s convenient but after all that the fleet has been through I don’t think that it would be particularly good form for me to bolt the very next day, before the bulk of the fleet has arrived. And, to make matters worse, my flight, booked months ago, is a few days before Thanksgiving. No pressure…
Besides, I want to celebrate with the fleet too and it would be such a downer to put Pandora on a mooring and head out without even saying goodby. “say hi to everybody. Gotta go…”
Tough issues but back to Pandora.
We finally shut off the engine last evening after motoring non-stop for over three days beginning Tuesday evening. It gets pretty hot down below, near 90 degrees with the engine running and the boat all buttoned up, so it’s always a relief when We finally shut it down.
Up until this season, keeping the batteries charged when we were able to sail has been very difficult, needing to run the engine twice a day and adding even more heat to the cabin. However, the upgraded solar and the wind generator, has been a game changer.
I don’t have quite enough experience with the setup yet but the wind generator seems to keep up pretty well with all the instruments and autopilot. At 20kts apparent the generator produces enough power to fully offset the load when we have all the instruments and our trusty autopilot running. That does not account for the substantial load that the refrigeration has on the system but I expect that the solar will be able to put back at least a portion of that power, even if we are on a port tack which tilts the panels away from the sun.
The extra input combined with the lithium bank that accepts power much better seems to suggest that even on passage, we should not have to run the engine except when the wind is light.
So, here I am, the sun is up and it’s time to make a pot of coffee.
After a week under way, this is our 8th day, it’s nice to know that the end is near.
Perhaps now I can turn my attention to what happens when we arrive.
A tot of rum? A beer? A swim? All of the above or as I used to say when I was small, I’ll take “both of each!”.