12/02/2011, Shore duty
Some folks have asked why I'm not on board Centime for the passage. It's a good but complex question. A bit about my recent journey:
I enjoyed our sail down from Portland, Maine immensely. Living on board with Dennis was awesome, we had great adventures and we met amazing people. I was very optimistic when we took off in the Caribbean 1500 on November 11.
During the first small attempt to make the crossing (when we had the initial minor engine overheating issue) I felt great as I sailed us in circles. I kept us off very tight shoals in tricky winds - by myself - while they did a super job of fixing the engine.
I was fine in the second larger attempt up to the Gulf Stream as we rocked and rolled and bounced though bigger winds, bigger waves, rains, and bigger engine issues (which are now truly fixed).
And, I was quite good on the third attempt into the Gulf Stream. In fact I took it in stride when all of a sudden water was pouring on my face and I looked up and one of two solar panels had flipped 180 degrees through the canvas dodger into the cockpit, maybe a foot from my head. (It's now welded and heavily bolted down.)
It was coming back to Beaufort, just south of Cape Hatteras, where my attitude adjusted slightly.
The area around Cape Hatteras is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" partly because it juts out closer to the Gulf Stream and you can sometimes get nasty currents and weather. We crawled back, just south of Hatteras, at 2.5 - 3.5 knots against strong currents and wind blowing on the bow. We were aware that a major front was driving towards us at about 55 miles per hour. By early evening the Coast Guard began issuing warnings "Securite, securite, all vessels should seek immediate shelter from extreme weather, intense lightening and tornadoes. "
As I began to prepare for possible lightening strikes, putting our portable electronics in the oven for protection, battening down the hatches... I started to think that the impact on our youngest son, of us not making it, would be devastating. He's had a bit of an uneasy road lately, choosing a difficult college and path. The mom instincts kicked in and I began to question how much risk is appropriate when I want to be available for our kids.
Questions on risks and parenting were spinning in my head as we limped in at 1:30 am, skirting lightening patches. These thoughts continued for days ahead as we planned our next moves.
Then during Thanksgiving week my son got a bad batch of food poisoning, with pain so strong he went to the hospital. Somewhere over the weeks of repair it became clear that I wanted to be available on the home front at this instant in time. It also became clear that there were very experienced crew ready and available to join Dennis, and that Dennis dreamed of making the crossing and did not want to ride the ICW or skirt the coast this time around.
Dennis was awesome in his support. The boat, crew and captain are now in great shape and are doing very well. I felt relieved about the decision. And importantly, my son is now much better.
I love to sail and will have many many opportunities to do so in the future, however this was not the time for me. I will track Dennis every step of the way down and will fly down on Sunday to cheer him in.
I am so fortunate to have a great husband and kids and the support of so many good friends.
12/02/2011, 365 nm southeast of Beaufort
Looks likes they're about 30% there - YAY!! They seem to be making great progress, about 6 knots average from what I can tell and right on track.
The weather for the rest of the voyage looks promising at the moment, strong (but good) winds through Tuesday, with a bit of rocking and rolling in the seas, but not too bad. After that it looks calm for the rest of the week.
All check-ins are positive.
This morning he said it was cloudy but looking clearer to the SE where they are headed, mild temps but not yet shorts weather. Hopefully I'll get another update tonight.
As for me I'm driving to Raleigh, NC tomorrow and flying down on Sunday. Most definitely want to be there when they arrive, and I'm thinking it could be anytime from next Thursday to Saturday.
12/02/2011, 312 nm off Beaufort
Right on track
12/02/2011, 282 nm off Beaufort
12/01/2011, 244 nm off Beaufort
Still looking good; continuing at just over 6 knots
"2300 GMT, 12/01/11 [6PM EST]
Weather: Winds at 8 - 12 from the northeast, gusting to 18, temps mild (but not shorts weather yet).
Today was another mostly motoring day. We had two reefs in the main from this morning and were motor sailing. We finally had enough wind to put up the genny and sail (while the lasagne was cooking and almost done, mind you) when Dave spotted the missing batten box at the luff of the second most upper batten. Actually just the outside casing of the box was missing, risking losing the batten. So, we took the batten out to keep it safe, but the leach of the sail was flogging in the current wind (forecast to get even stronger overnight). We tried to replace it with the case from the lowest batten (which, given the weather report, will never see the light of day before we get to Tortola), but ... not to be done ... the top two boxes were smaller than the others! So, we put a third reef in the main to get us through the night (which cut down on the flogging substantially), reefed the genny and had Donato's VERY delicious lasagne ... much enjoyed by all! We'll deal with the missing box in the daylight.
We made 148 miles noon to noon ... 6.17 kts VMG! Again, lots of motoring, but we'll take it. Looking at a slow night tonight, but the weather has will be building over the next several days to a steady 20 - 25 kts of northeasterlies, bringing larger seas and good boat speed. Ken, our weather forecaster, put it this way: "Be ready for some rigorous sailing for much of the passage, but with generally favorable wind direction and probably excellent boat speed."