We are in our fourth day at sea and are only about a third of the way to Antigua and we are in a holding pattern. I had hoped that the entire run would take about ten days but now it’s looking like it could be 12-13. Not great.
Conditions were a bit sporty last night but not too bad with gusty winds going rapidly from 10kts to 20 and back again, hour after hour. And, we had a 2kt current on our nose so progress was slow.
However, things have settled down now as we slowly sail east trying not to go too far before we head south again.
The guys up in the cockpit enjoying a nice day and not trying to think too much about how much farther we still have to go.
The biggest problem is that there is a low forming to the south, between us and Bermuda that is expected to bring winds in the 30-40kt range with gusts in squalls to 50kts. Not great and gusts at those levels can break stuff.
In order to avoid all of this, Chris said that we need to stay north of 37 degrees north until the front passes, perhaps sometime overnight on Sunday. As it’s not even noon on Saturday and we are at that latitude, we decided just to sail east to kill time.
As we are already as far south as he recommends, while we wait for the front to pass, we have to sail perpendicular to our intended course and wait until things improve to the south.
We have been in a similar position over the years and a number of times over the years and delays where we sail east, instead of south, can add days to a trip. Once we begin to head south again, there will be a few days of motoring and that’s slow too as I can’t really go much faster than 6kts without burning a lot of fuel. Sailing in good conditions are generally in the 8-9kt range, a lot faster than motoring.
The good news is that once we reach the easterly trades, perhaps 600 miles north of Antigua, we should be able to cover a lot of ground with upwards of 20kts on the beam which may allow us to make nearly 200 miles a day. On our run south last fall, we had a number of days where we came close to that distance so it might happen.
So, here we are, jogging to the east, waiting for better conditions.
Other than a frustrating delay, all remains good aboard Pandora, even if things are a bit trashed in her cabin.
The US weather model, GFS, says that the low won’t clear out until early Monday morning while the European model says that things should clear up perhaps 12 hours sooner. Chris often favors the Euro so fingers crossed. He did say that he’d send out an update later today so we will see how things develop. It would be good to get moving in the right direction, sooner than later.
With Starlink, which is working pretty well, we can also download the models and see them ourselves. Seeing the graphics does make it a lot easier to interpret what Chris is suggesting.
Here’s what he said about the risk of being too far south, too soon.
“There is a large potential risk for vessels to lie S of 37N or 37-30N Sun5, and with favorable weather thereafter, no need to assume that risk.”
I’m taking his advice.