It’s Saturday morning and we are motoring in an oily flat calm, about 250 miles from the south wall of the Gulf Stream. I say “wall” as that’s exactly what it’s like when you enter as within a very short distance you cross from the waters outside to inside of the stream. You can tell because the temperature goes up about ten degrees, the water is more unsettled and the color changes to a more dramatic blue. And, if conditions are settled, you can actually see the “wall” as you approach. It’s pretty wild to see a break in the otherwise uniform waters, miles in every direction. It’s remarkable that the transition is so sharp after the waters have traveled so far north from where it passes the southern tip of Florida, a thousand miles south.
To be so far from land and have absolutely flat water to the horizon in every direction when we are so far from land, 500 miles from Jacksonville FL and about 350 miles from Cape Hatteras and the Bahamas. This is the point of our trip that has us furthest from land. As the horizon is only 15 miles in any direction, I guess it really doesn’t matter how far out we are as we won’t see land until we approach either Sandy Hook or Montauk. I don’t know yet which will be the best spot to head for until I better understand what the wind will be like after we leave the Gulf Stream on Monday evening. As of now, it looks like the wind will be out of the south-west, which is a good direction for sailing but perhaps it will be a better wind angle to approach Sandy Hook and make our way through New York.
Jim has not been through NYC by water and I thought that it would be fun too as it’s been a few years for me. Also, with very strong currents we will have to time our transit based on a flood tide. I also like the idea of going through NYC as that will put us within cell range sooner, which is good. Clearing customs should be easier too as the other times I have gone that way a simple phone call was all it took to clear us in. I’d prefer to avoid having Customs and Immigration come to the boat, or worse, make us come to them, as that will just lengthen our trip. Unfortunately, we would have to stay aboard once in port until we officials arrive and inspect the boat and crew. Clearing by phone is clearly better.
We haven’t seen much in the way of ship traffic in several days with only one sighted in the early hours of today, a freighter that crossed our bow, probably less than a mile off. It’s very hard to gauge distances at night and without radar or AIS, I have no idea as to how close it was except that it felt TOO CLOSE for comfort.
I had hoped to catch a fish but alas, no luck in spite of trolling a line for two days already. And, while we have seen an occasional bird, no sightings of dolphins or anything else, for that matter. That’s unless you count a few Portuguese Man-of-War jelly fish with their air filled “sail” floating along with the wind and current.
Because of the anticipated bad weather in the Gulf Stream, most of the Salty Dawg fleet decided to divert to Bermuda to participate in the upcoming America’s Cup festivities. I would have loved to do that myself but I have so much to do at home and would have really complicated things with regards to crew. I expect that a week long delay would have cost me both Cliff and Jim and then I would have had to scramble to find replacements for the trip home. Finding crew who’d like to visit Bermuda for a few days prior to heading out would have been pretty easy but that would have necessitated my staying in Bermuda for perhaps two weeks between crew leaving and new ones arriving, a non-starter as I really don’t want to be away from Brenda for that long.
Interestingly, all of the participants in the rally check into both a morning and evening SSB radio net and it’s fun to hear who’s caught a fish, has gear problems (not so fun) and their location relative to Pandora. It’s fun to connect and hear what’s up with the others making this trip and after so many miles and days at sea, the fleet is very spread out with none within sight of Pandora.
Well, that’s about it for now. No wind for the next few days so I’ll be putting a pretty good dent in our diesel supply until we enter an area with some decent winds north of the Stream. You can also be sure that I am watching my fuel consumption very carefully as we are totally dependant on our engine and that’s especially important as we just SO FAR from land, the furthest point of the trip.