05/26/2011, Atlantic Ocean
We had a fantastic ride through the Gulf-stream last night as we approached Cape Hatteras. Dolce surfed much of the evening in 20-25kt breeze from abeam pushing us at an avg speed of 10-11kts w/ a hi of 14.6kts. With the help of the gulf-stream, we had a 225+ nm day!
We then celebrated Gage's b-day early this morning by yelling the much anticipated "FISH ON!" After trolling 500 nm w/ nothing to show, its only fitting that we hit it big today b/c Gage is such a fishing nut!
From the log...written by Charlie at 07:00
"...the fishing reel was heard to spin madly. "Fish On!" brought the entire "Dolce" crew tumbling on deck. Mike reeled in madly and the rest made ready to welcome a scaly guest: sails in, gaff & bucket out, speed reduced. Mike got a complete workout hauling against a 48" Mahi Mahi, which broke surface a number of times on its way to our dinner table."
It was impressive to watch all 6 crew members work together in this 30 minute period to change Dolce from an ocean sailing sloop into a "Hatteras" sport fisher, including someone on the transom w/ a gaff! The whole episode ended once we brought the fish on board and Capt Pop came into the cockpit w/ a bottle of rum. I thought it was to cheer our promotion to "hunters" but soon learned the rum was to be put into the gills of the fish to euthanize it! We filet'd the fish under the watchful eyes/guidence of the "Dr.". Mike prepared a great meal w/ the MAHI MAHI tonite...putting it in the oven w/ lime, red pepper, yellow pepper and a little butter and black pepper for seasoning. Very tasty.
Gage's b-day celebration didn't end there....later this morning we spotted a 3 foot turtle lounging in the surf of the waves, then Charlie caught a "little tunny"/false albacore and then at sunset we were entertained by a 75+/- circus troop of dolphins. We all ejoyed front row seats as they did their acrobatics all around the boat for 15 minutes!
We're currently traveling at 8.5kts, in a 18-20kt Southerly, off of Norfolk, VA w/ 220 NM between us and NYC. We're making great time and barring any unforseen difficulties, anticipate arrival at SCYC on Saturday late afternoon/early evening.
As we enter this "northern corridor" we have seen a significant increase in boat traffic, as i write there are 4 freighters (500+ft) w/in 5 nm of us.
p.s. Listening to channel 16- there has been a "securite" by the Coast Guard the last 36 hrs regarding a missing 32 foot blue sail boat which has been reported late for arrival to Chester Town from Guadaloupe! Asking mariners to be on the look-out for this steel vessel which is piloted by a 40 year old woman.
05/25/2011, Atlantic Ocean
This is the Atlatic Oceans version of a traffic jam off Cape Hatteras! We traveled the first 250nm seeing less than 5 boats until we hit Hatteras and all its commercial activity!
05/24/2011, Atlantic Ocean
We just closed out our first 24hr period at 5:30pm tonite w/ a total mileage tally of 190nm! The boat is running great and the crew have settled into their daily routines (which for one crew member means never missing out on a nap or a cigar).
Once we charged through North Man-O-War channel yesterday (which involved a few nice breaking waves over the bow) we had a fantastic first 8hr leg of sailing w/ 15-18kts of breeze shooting us North! We started to motorsail this a.m. driving a good pace of 8.8-9.2kts.
Surprisingly we've only spotted 4 boats along the 200nm journey including 2 commercial fishing boats, a freighter and one sailing ketch which we have been overtaking for the last hour.
Flying fish have entertained the crew all day. These incredible fish will jump out of the water, flap their side fins and glide through the air effortlessly for 50-70 feet. We have also been trawling two fishing lines but unfortunately haven't had a hit yet...but don't count us out yet b/c we have 800 miles still to find something. Until we legitamize ourselves as "hunters", we enjoyed a great chicken parm for dinner.
The last two hours the wind has shifted 90 degrees to S SW and has sat down. The sea has settled down with it and if you didn't know any better you would think we're rolling down Long Island Sound its so tranquil! So calm that at one point late this afternoon Jim and Leland took naps (a common theme among the crew) on the deck of the bow.
Provisions are holding up although we could already use another "drop-shipment" of Suzanne's famous crumb cake!
05/22/2011, Sea of Abaco
Now that the 21st is passed and we've cleared "world ending" shoals, we're going to live a little. Assembled a great team to join me aboard Dolce for a 6 day sprint North! Team includes two Commodores, an Iron Man, a Black Belt, a Dr and a pencil pusher (thats me!). It almost has the makings of a Fox reality show. Plan on departing through North Man-O-War Channel by 4pm into the face of a decent high pressure system. We're charting a Rhumb Line North which will allow us to enter the Gulf Stream near 33 30N/76 10W, then exit near 35N/75W, just off Hatteras. Weather looks "benign" until we reach a pressure system on Thursday w/ winds expected to hit 25+/- out of the SE. I like to do a simple watch system of 2 hrs on w/ 4 hrs off and the crew working in teams of two. Stay tuned...expect to hit the RUM line in Oyster Bay by Sunday!
05/19/2011, Sea of Abaco
Have been extremely focused on making sure our safety gear/procedures are all in place for the trip "north".
Key items i've focused on last few days:
1) EPIRBS: updating crew/trip info on my EPIRB account w/ NOAA
2) VHF "MAY DAY": placards (see pic) posted above the VHF and in the Head...I got this idea from a Cruising World magazine "Safety at Sea article"- think its a smart way to make sure you can communicate a clear/concise message in an emergency. I actually looked up the origins of "May Day"...according to Origins of Hamspeak, "May Day" is an anglicized version of the French m'aidez (help me) or m'aider (to render help to me)
3) Coast Guard: I even tried to log our trip w the Coast Guard...funny...they called down to "command" at Cape Hatteras and called back to say that they don't take "trip logs"..."just make sure your loved ones know what u r up too!"
4) Gear: Two key things we will do w/in 24hrs of departure 1) put a hose into the bilge and confirm that the bilge pumps are working properly (I learned this the hard way) and 2) get into the rear lazarette to make sure all the machinery is secure (including autopilot and steering gear)
05/17/2011, Sea of Abaco
Beginning to track the weather ahead of our 1000 NM trip north next week to Oyster Bay! Here is a snapshot of the Gulfstream velocities off the East coast of North America in the last 20 days in metres per second (to get the approximate velocity in knots, multiply by 1.9438445). Looking forward to a +/- 2.5kt boost as we head back to Oyster Bay...just hope we don't make a wrong turn and miss it!