Glad to be underway and Heading Home

It’s Tuesday morning and we have been underway for nearly 24 hours.  The sailing has been good and Pandora’s reeling off the miles.

We were originally planning to head out on Wednesday but after hearing the long range weather forecast we decided to head out on Monday with the rest of the fleet.  Our plan to leave later was based on George’s schedule as he had business and family commitments that would not allow him to arrive until late on Tuesday.  However, after hearing Chris Parker’s forecast on Saturday that called for a cold front with strong north winds to exit the east coast around the 24th, I realized that we could not afford to wait past Monday. Besides, Cliff and Jim arrived on Sunday afternoon so we could leave sooner if needed.  And, as is so often the case, it was “needed” so we did.

I feel badly that we had to bolt and leave George but if we had waited we might very well have ended up in Bermuda to wait out the adverse winds or worse, been caught in some really nasty conditions later in the trip.

This is my first Salty Dawg Rally and it’s fun to be making the run north with about 25 boats.  Some are headed to the Chesapeake, others to Bermuda and some to New England like Pandora.  Each morning and evening there are SSB radio nets that allow us to call in and talk to other boats in the fleet.  The others share stories of how things are going, fish caught and gear that doesn’t work.

One boat in particular is stopping in Bermuda as their autopilot stopped working and they are now hand steering, which is very tiring.   I heard that a hatch was left open and a big wave splashed in and flooded part of the autopilot equipment.  Salt water getting into the boat is a constant worry and that’s why we keep Pandora pretty well buttoned up while offshore, regardless of how hot it might be down below.  I have had my share of gear issues this winter and I really don’t want to tempt fate. Losing the autopilot is the thing that I worry about the most as hand steering is not something that we take lightly.  Years ago I was on a boat from Nassau to CT and the autopilot crapped out. We had to steer for about a week with no break.  The crew of four was taxed by that experience.

Speaking of “gear issues”, we do have one issue that came up yesterday shortly after leaving Tortola.  Pandora has two chart plotters, one at the helm and another up under the dodger.  The one at the helm is the “master” with feeds from AIS and radar and the other plotter is a “slave” to that one.  The problem is that the helm plotter stopped working yesterday, it just went dark, so now we don’t have access to AIS or radar on the remaining plotter.  The good news is that the AIS is still transmitting, we just can’t see it on the plotter.   At least other ships can see us, assuming that they are watching.  I just can’t see them.

I had thought about swapping the two units as they are the same but I am concerned that I might somehow make things worse so have decided to just go without AIS and radar for the duration.  I guess it will be just like the “olden days” but with autopilot and refrigeration.  Oh yeah and a watermaker.  No,I guess it’s not really like the olden days, just less than perfect.

At least it will sharpen our lookout skills.

So, that’s about it and we only have about 1,200 miles to go.  Yikes, that’s a long way. At this rate we should be done with the trip in about 8 more days.

Beyond that, nothing much to report.  However, the trip is young and I am expecting some “sporty” conditions later in the week.  Until then, sailing and perhaps a few days of motoring as we cross a ridge, a sort of “convergence zone” between two weather systems, just west of Bermuda, where there will be little or no wind.

Stay tuned for more details and don’t forget to check out the tracking on my blog to see exactly where we are, well at lest within the last two hours as that’s how often we send out position reports.  Also check for a recent post, a few days ago, to see a link to view Pandora and the rest of the fleet.

I plan to write again tomorrow and hope that post will be boring too.  Excitement aboard Pandora when we are hundreds of miles from shore is something that I’d like to avoid, if possible.

Until next time.

One response to “Glad to be underway and Heading Home

  1. Geoirge Hallenbeck

    5.45 knots and East of Cuba. You are making good time.
    The second tracker is still putting out a signal even if it hasn’t moved.

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