Lost At Sea
09 April 2023
They say the third time is the charm and since this was our third trip to the Bahamas we were looking forward to an enjoyable trip north. During our earlier trips there hadn't been any wind for the 100 mile leg across the Bahamas Bank; however, this time we enjoyed a good sail under a nearly full moon until the early hours of Tuesday morning when we had to fire the engine to keep our speed up. Although we had a good weather window that would remain open until late Thursday evening it was important to try and maintain a minimum of 6 knots over the ground at all times.
Our plan was to reach the Cape Fear River mid afternoon on Thursday which would give us ample time to get in a safe anchorage before the nasty weather arrived. Once leaving the Bahama Bank at Mantinilla Shoal we headed northwest to within 60 miles of Cape Canaveral to pick up the strongest part of the gulf stream for the ride north. I had studied various routes for the trip and luckily by combining info from a few sources, mainly Chris Parker, we hit the nail square on the head. When we arrived in the heart of the stream late Tuesday we turned due north and rode a 4 knot push until early Thursday morning. The winds remained light forcing us to motor sail until early Wednesday when we could finally shut down the engine again. All in all we had a great trip, the relative calm seas and warm temperatures allowed us to sail in shorts and tee shirts around the clock as the full moon lit the night sky.
Once we were able to get a good ETA for Cape Fear we calculated that we needed to slow down during the last 10 hours in order to avoid the 3.5 knot ebb tide. Unfortunately, this created the least comfortable conditions of the trip, especially while exiting the Gulf Stream, Dagny rolled from side to side under reefed main only. However, our timing was good and we had a nice smooth entrance in the river and arrived in Southport after 551 miles in 71 hours.
This was by far our best trip weather wise but also preparation wise. Bev had prepared and frozen 5 dinners as well as snacks and sandwiches reducing galley time for everyone while at the same time keeping us well fed. Having an extra crew on board was a bonus during the long nights as we all had a chance to get adequate rest and sleep and as usual Dagny and Otto performed perfectly.
During the day on Wednesday we had a visit from a small yellow breasted bird the size of a chickadee, the poor guy had been pushed off shore and was exhausted. After a couple hours of rest we got him to drink some water and once he perked up he set off exploring the boat. We tried in vain to keep him out of the cabin but whenever a hatch or window was open he'd pop through in a flash. Of course we named "Admiral Bird" and figured he would stay with us until we got close to land. As the day went on he became more brazen and would take off for little test flights around the boat to check things out. By now we sailing down wind in close to twenty knots; sadly during one test flight he got too far behind the boat and couldn't catch us. Bev lost sight of him as he was struggling to get back to us so we had to assume he was lost at sea.
Today's picture is of "Admiral Bird" checking out the wheel.