As I sit down to write this post, we are into our third day on passage to Antigua from Hampton VA. Since leaving we have had to run the motor a good deal, racking up a total of 36 hours of motoring and 12 of sailing alone. Of course, we kept the sails up for the motoring times as there was a little wind that helped us move along with reduced engine RPM.
That’s important to keep the RPMs down as it’s a long way to Antigua and we were told when we left that we’d be motoring much of the way. In spite of my concern that we’d not be able to make the entire run without running out of fuel, I decided to leave anyway with the belief that the extremely light conditions would not materialize as predicted.
That was a good decision as here we are sailing along at between 8-9 kts, SSE in moderate winds on a close reach and we expect that these conditions will persist for at least the next 24 hours. After that, the wind should shift more to the SE which will make it impossible to continue to sail in the direction we wish to go.
Based on that, Chris Parker recommends that once the wind shifts to the SE that we tack and sail to the NE to gain some easting. The farther east we are, the better our chances of picking up the trade winds, later in the trip, which should give us easy sailing the rest of the way to Antigua.
Of course, “trades” are named that because they represent regular winds, both speed and direction are very consistent so they were widely used by sailing ships to make long passages on fairly predicable schedules.
As we make our way south and east we hope to eventually hook up with the easterly trades to the Caribbean, which is good as it will make our trip more predictable, at least for the final third of the trip and eliminate any risk of running out of fuel.
As I mentioned, if I motor-sail and keep my engine RPM low, I can stretch my available fuel supply quite a bit and should be able to average about 6-.7gal/hr of motoring time. As I hold (well the building plans say so, but I have never tested it) 150 gallons combined in my three tanks and I also have an additional 25 gallons in jugs. That would give me something like 250 hours of slow motoring, perhaps a total of 1,500 miles.
However, I wouldn’t want to test this as I am assuming that I can use 95% of my fuel before the pickup no longer can reach the remaining fuel in the tanks and I don’t know if that’s correct.
In any event, I want to be sure I conserve fuel so I don’t find myself a few hundred miles short of Antigua drifting around with no more fuel.
As I will continue to monitor fuel use very closely, and Chris’s forecast now suggests that there will be enough wind to sail half of the distance, I doubt that there is any real risk that I’ll find myself running out before we get to Antigua.
The good news for now is that we should be able to put as many as 36 “carbon free” hours of sailing, perhaps 270 miles, in the bank over the next two days and then it looks like we will have a few days of motoring to endure before we hit the easterly trades and make our way the final distance to Antigua.
I guess that’s about it for now but all is well on Pandora and just about everything aboard is functioning as it should. I say “just about” as my wind speed indicator was acting up a while ago but now seems to have settled down and the AIS was having problems but it too “healed itself” overnight.
Well, I guess that’s about all I can think of for now, so I’ll sign off so I can get a line in the water. Perhaps we can catch a tuna or Mahi Mahi for dinner. No luck yesterday though.
It’s good to be sailing, for a while at least.
Only 1,100 miles to go.