Motoring along, making time.

It’s day four of what will likely be a 10 day passage from St Thomas to CT and home.

Brenda’s still in Japan on a fiber tour and it sounds like she is having a wonderful time.  Amazingly, with little communication it turns out that 4 of her friends also signed up and are there with her.

Thanks to WhatsApp and Starlink, I have been able to talk to her a few times in spite of the 13 hour time difference.  It seems that the best time to catch her is in the morning here, or around bedtime for her.

When I think back to our first few years cruising beginning in 2012 when we first went to the Bahamas, I am amazed how different things are now.  Back then, we had to purchase a cell sim card in the Bahamas and there was no reasonable way to call family in the US.  We used Skype but that never seemed to work.  And forget finding a decent Wi-Fi connection.

As difficult as that was, it was a piece of cake compared with our time in Cuba, the two months that we spent cruising the island meant that there was just no way to talk to anyone.  Forget phone, not allowed.   And email was very difficult and required us to purchase a scratch off card, good for 30 minutes, with a code that we would type into a computer kiosk at the government owned hotel.   And the speeds, on a cable from Venezuela, were horribly slow, think dial-up.

With here we are a decade later and it still blows me away that I can fire up the Starlink and call Brenda half a world away and 13 time zones ahead and talk.   And, the connection generally sounds like she is nearby.  No delay or odd sounds.

So, here I sit, typing away in my “office”.  I spend a lot of time sitting here as the cockpit can get crowded with the guys reading and keeping watch.And, my blog, which I have been keeping for more than 13 years now, is so much simpler.  In past years, when I was on passage, I put the blog text into an email and sent it to Brenda or whomever was available to post it for me and they would log into my blog and put up the post for me.  And, getting a photo to them.  Forget it.

Now, if I am willing to spend the bandwidth, I can post as easily as I do from home with speeds that are actually faster than home.

The pace of change is staggering, that’s for sure.

Until this morning, since leaving St Thomas four days ago, we have been sailing.  No always particularly fast but it was nice to spend days sailing along without the sound of the motor.

With nearly a third of the distance under our belt, conditions have been benign and we used the big Code 0 headsail again yesterday.   However, as the wind clocked more to the south, I cranked up the engine in anticipation that the wind will get even lighter for the next few days.

As Pandora has a very large alternator to charge the lithium house batteries, I can run the smaller of the two AC units right off of the engine as I had them wired to run off of the house DC/AC inverter.  This doesn’t cool the entire main cabin but does make a big difference and takes a lot of the humidity out of the air.  As the engine is under the galley, all that heat radiates into the cabin and makes it quite uncomfortable.  The ability to run the AC, at least when we are motoring, is a big help.

One of the things we spend a lot of time focused on is the upcoming weather and this trip is no different.  The key issue is what conditions will be like when we cross the Gulf Stream and if the wind will be favorable.

The Gulf Stream runs north from the Florida Straits up to Cape Hatteras and then kicks out to the NE and into the North Atlantic.  At some point we will have to cross the GS and it is critical that we not do that when the winds are strong, especially blowing from the NE or East as that means that the wind and current would be opposing and that kicks up dangerous and steep seas.

This time of year, and it is still early in the season, cold fronts exit the US East Coast every few days and these fast-moving systems bring with them unfavorable winds, especially in the GS.   Given how fast these systems move, it’s hard to predict more than a few days in advance when they will actually happen.

As we sit here on Monday our current speed and direction suggest that we will likely encounter the GS around Friday and according to Chris Parker, our weather router, that’s about the time that a strong front will be in our path.  It’s hard to say exactly what the timing will be but for sure we will have to be certain that we time our entrance into the southern part of the GS to avoid the strongest N/NE winds.  In this case, the winds are expected to top out at more than 25kts, a lot of wind.

Beginning today we will be entering a windless zone so we will be motoring, likely for another two or more days, until we enter an area with favorable wind.

With some luck, we will be able to continue on and cross the GS at a time that is benign.  As Chris Parker like to say “well, that’s a long way off and things could change”.   Yes, I expect that they will.

I guess I’ll leave it at that as it’s nearly time to whip up some sandwiches for lunch.  Keeping watch, sleeping and eating.  That about it on passage.  And, writing blog posts, of course.

More to come but for now, just motoring along, making time.

One more thing.  Don’t forget that you can follow along with the fleet at this link.


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