It is Friday morning and we are about 450 miles from Antigua and solidly in the easterly trade winds. After enduring days of slow going and motoring for what seemed like forever, it is good to be sailing along at a less leisurely pace.
We encountered a number of squalls overnight and shortly after dawn, one left a rainbow in it’s wake, just a sliver that went up behind the low clouds.
Or, a bit closer…
You may recall that when we were north of Bermuda, we had to delay our southward track to allow for a low near Bermuda to dissipate. This meant that we had to sail to the east, making very little mileage south to our destination. Over an 18-hour period we only made 60 miles toward our destination. It was very frustrating. And, to make matters worse, the constant slatting of the mainsail caused some damage to the gooseneck, the fitting that connects the boom to the mast. I will have to get that repaired or replaced when I get to Antigua.
After motoring for days in very light wind, we finally entered the trades last night and our speed picked up a lot. We can only motor at a pace of less than 6kts and when motorsailing with a little wind to give us a boost, upwards of 7.5kts. Under sail things get a lot better and for hours now we have been averaging 8kts+ with a few periods of 9kts+. It is nice to see the miles reel off as we make our way south. ]
While the trades filled in yesterday evening, we continued to motorsail for a few hours and finally were able to turn off the engine. It is common for skippers to track their daily miles and see how many miles they cover in a 24 hour period and as I log our location and mileage every two hours, I can see how we are doing. So, for the last 24 hours we covered 182 miles with a mix of sailing and motorsailing, a very respectable distance. Now, as we are deep into the trades and under sail alone, our speed has crept up and if we keep up the pace of the last 12 hours we will have covered 192 miles in a day.
I mention all this as 200 miles in a 24 hour period is a “mythical goal” for cruising boats and to be even close to this is an impressive feat. And, one that Pandora has come close to but never achieved.
My friend George Day, editor and publisher of Blue Water Sailing magazine as well as a number of other publications, publishes a weekly newsletter, “Cruising Compass”, and in this weeks’ issue reflects on just how hard it is to push a cruising boat to cover 200 miles in a single day.
George had crewed with me on my last run to Antigua and here is what he had to say about the “200 mile goal” and his time aboard Pandora.
“Last weekend, American solo sailor Cole Brauer, who is racing in the non-stop Global Solo Challenge, notched a 220 mile 24-hour hour run aboard her Class 40 First Light. She is the first skipper in this event to do so, despite the fleet being comprised of many super light offshore racing monohulls. To reach a 200-mile day, you have to average 8.33 knots for 24 hours. This is commonplace for maxi racing boats, IMOCA foiling monohulls, high speed performance cats and super racing trimarans. But in mere mortal monohulls and most cruising multihulls, averaging 8.33 knots is mighty hard to achieve. A year ago, sailing in the Salty Dawg Rally from Hampton, VA to Antigua with SDSA president Bob Osborn aboard his Aerodyne 47 Pandora –a very slippery and fast Rodger Martin design—we had plenty of wind from good angles and saw four days over 190 miles. But 200? Wasn’t to be. And a few years ago, sailing transatlantic aboard Steve McInnis’s Hanse 50 Maverick, another fast cruiser with a powerful rig that seems to sail at 8 knots all the time, we didn’t crack 200 miles once. It’s the “average for 24 hours” part of the equation that is so hard to do. So, hats off to Cole Brauer –all five foot two and 100 pounds of her– and here’s to all of you who strive but most often fail to crack that ever elusive 200-mile day. If you have a 200-mile day story you’d like to share, send it to me at email@example.com.”
When Pandora really gets going, even if she does not go a full 200 miles a day, she is wet boat with water coming over the decks nearly constantly. Unfortunately, there remains a persistent leak near the mast and in spite of my best efforts, water is still getting below. Not a lot, but enough to damage the woodwork if I let it go. For those who follow this blog, I spent the summer chasing leaks and have made a lot of progress but have not completely solved the problem. Alas, one more job for the guys in Trinidad to attend to next summer.
So, here we are, me mopping up a few drips here and there and Pandora reeling off the miles toward Antigua. Not to jinx it, but it looks like we might arrive during daylight on Monday, a day sooner than we had expected.
That would be nice. Let us hope that nothing breaks and that the leaks slow.
Looking forward to a rum punch and a burger, medium please, when we arrive.
*P.S. I stole George’s title too.