One of the most common questions that we get from folks that are not familiar with the cruising lifestyle is “at night when you are on passage do you anchor so you can sleep?” Answer: “No, not really.”
Oh, and the second question is often “so, when you arrive in the islands, what resort do you move into?” Would not that be nice. “Please, I would like a room with a water view. Is it available for four months?”
Last night I did find myself feeling like we were anchored, hanging out, drifting actually, several hundred miles north of Bermuda, 500 miles from anything, waiting for a small, but nasty, low (storm) to move out of the area to our south, near Bermuda.
Chris Parker, who knows that it is in his best interest to keep his clients out of the nasty, or as he likes to call it “salty” stuff, has been very aggressive in telling us not to go below 37 degrees north until sometime late Sunday. What he was trying to convey is that if we did not follow his advice, we would find ourselves in “extreme salty” conditions, something that I have no interest in.
A few boats went south of that line anyway (one didn’t get the memo it seems) and have found themselves with adverse winds of more than 30kts as well as a lovely (read: extreme salty) mix of squalls and thunderstorms.
By lingering north of 37 degrees north latitude, we were in an area with almost no wind, think 5-10kts. So, for much of the last 24 hours we have been moving east along the 37 degree boundary at around 3kts, with two thirds of that speed due to an easterly current.
As of this morning, and it is 08:00 Sunday as I sit down to write this, we are about 80 miles north of where Chris wants us to be as of dusk this evening so we decided to turn on the engine and go slow, in the 5kt range.
The water temperature is in the low 80s and while the evenings are cool, it is comfortable with a light sweater. We do have a full enclosure so it keeps us snug, even if it is raining. When we first left Essex, the water temperature was in the low 60s and it was very cold, even down below in the cabin, think 60. Fortunately, I have a cabin heater that I can run from the engine when it is on and a diesel heater for when we are sailing.
The comfortable cool conditions will not last much longer and as we get farther south it is going to be a lot hotter. The biggest problem is that we have to keep the boat fully buttoned up to avoid getting water down below. With the engine running, which is located under the galley, it gets pretty stuffy. Right now, quite nice, short sleeve weather.
Conditions are overcast, compliments of the low south of us but somehow, boring or not, I need to include a photo, or two, I the post. So, here is a view to the north, behind us. See how calm…
Not a lot to look at. Grey to the southeast and REALLY grey to the SW where the low is located. Hope it gets better before we get there.
We are hopeful that the nasty stuff will have dissipated as we work our way south near Bermuda. From that point, we should have light wind and a good deal of motoring before we hit the easterly trade winds.
It is possible that by being delayed, we will be able to avoid some of the very low wind areas but we will have to see how that goes. Some of the weather models suggest that there will be more wind and not dead calm. One way or the other, we should be able to sail briskly in good trade winds for perhaps the last 500-600 miles.
I will admit that last night did feel like we were anchored in an exposed roadstead, made particularly uncomfortable as it was rolly and noisy but way better than close reaching into 30kts and big seas. We did sleep well but kept watch even though we were not moving. With the main up with two reefs, it did a good deal of slatting and jerking. Not great.
Well, I guess the answer to that common question is “Yes, we do anchor in the ocean at night but not the way you think. No, it was more like drifting along with no place to go.”
I thought that it might be interesting to put up parts of a daily notice I get from Shoreside support for the rally. There is 24/7 coverage for all boats in the fleet. Mindy, who wrote this, is in London in St Mary’s Docks for the winter. She coordinates a team of individuals that volunteer to be on call, around the clock, until the last boat gets into port. Every day she sends out a notice of what’s going on and who might have issues. We also have an Emergency Response Team (ERT) that helps boats with issues, mechanical and otherwise.
So, here’s what came out last night…
We had 4 departures today, 5 diversions, and lots of issues. Dune Buggy has returned to Hampton due to the weather. I will give the 2 returned boats a day or two to rest before asking what their plans are. Other than those two returned boats, we have 2 boats in the Chesapeake and 1 in Florida who have not departed.
We currently have 75 boats underway, a great deal of whom have erratic tracks as they try to keep themselves north of the weather. Some are so close together I imagine they feel like they are in a flotilla this year; hopefully they are having a good time. It has not been a good time for the handful of boats who ended up in large seas and unsettled conditions further south. In addition to our weather diverted boats in Bermuda, we have several new arrivals in NC & SC, and 2 repair diverted boats in NC (see issues and concerns section). We appear to have a few boats who might be diverting to points further south.
- Incognito departed for Antiga
- Stella departed Hampton for Antigua
- Alacrity departed Hampton for Marsh Harbour
- Serenity departed Hampton for Marsh Harbour
Diverted or Resumed Boats:
- Life Above Zero, Oestara, and Raftan are diverting to Charleston.
- Wayfinder diverted to the Cape Fear River, NC
- Les Noble joined Summer Bird in Beaufort. Kiwi Dream is in Wanchese.
- Mystic, Nomad, Pangolin, and Mary Darline are waiting for weather in Bermuda. Pagolin & Mary Darline are thinking about departing Monday. I haven’t heard back from Mystic or Nomad.
Arrivals at Destination:
Boats with Concerns, or Issues:
- Cinchona (Bahamas, offshore route) has lost their steering and is using an emergency tiller. They are also having furling problems with their mainsail. They said they did not currently require assistance and will try to make repairs when the weather calms down. Chris Parker is aware of their problems and they have corresponded with the Emergency Response Team (ERT).
- Editor: Steering problems come up every year and some decide just to continue on, with others turning back. I have a windvane and a spare driver for my autopilot. I also have mine serviced by the manufacturer every few years. I live in fear of loosing steering. Of course, something else can also fail that I haven’t even thought of.
- Mor Childs Play (Antigua) requested some technical assistance with an intermittent autopilot problem. The ERT is working with them.
- Carosy (Bahamas) is having tracking problems and has lost their topping lift. They have requested help from any Bahamas boats still in the US.
- Yesterday, Tim sent a weather warning message to several boats who had moved into Chris’ danger zone. Tranquility had not seen the forecast. Chris Parker worked with them and determined that although his emails were sent to the correct email address, they were not ending up in Tranquility’s inbox. This is a good reminder to me that not every boat is getting their weather even when they are being sent to the correct email.
- Betwixt, Once, and Flash have lost their Starlink (maybe others as well) but they are still able to communicate and update tracking with other devices. Parallax’s inReach died and they will be updating their position manually. As usual, Tim and Allen continue to work with any boats who stop tracking or have communication issues, and advise them how to get their forecasts with alternate devices.
- Kiwi Dream (Bahamas) is having major repair work done. He hopes to continue with the rally soon, but also recognizes that may not be possible.
- Editor: A few days ago, Kiwi Dream tried to transit Oregon Inlet, a terrible inlet near Cape Hatteras, I guess to avoid bad weather. They hit the bottom and sustained significant damage. I can’t imagine what they were thinking as even local fishing boats have difficulty there.
- Summer Bird (Bahamas) is in Beaufort for a generator repair. They hope to be ready to go on Monday afternoon, weather permitting.
- Zephyr-McGuire (Antigua) has arrived in Portsmouth. They are interested in finding a Delivery Captain for December. If anyone has any good recommendations, please pass them along to me
- Editor: A day out of Newport, Zephyr’s new engine transmission failed. It was a huge disappointment so they had to divert back to Newport for repairs that will likely take weeks. They still want to head south so are considering hiring a captain and delivery crew to move the boat in December.
- Dune Buggy (Antigua) did not like the weather and turned back. He has arrived in Hampton. I will follow up in a couple days about their plans.
At least all systems are still in order aboard Pandora and reading about all the issues that the fleet is encountering is one of the reasons that I am so cautious.
Glad to be moving south again. Hope that it does not get too nasty.
Oh yeah, we will not be moving into a resort when we return to Pandora in mid-December. That is a bit above my pay grade.