20 May 2016 | 34 27'N:75 19'W, 7 days to arriving!!!
Photo: the chart I created while tacking my way to Panama. I only had a large scale chart so I created this one so I could chart tack angles along my way.
Every day now, I am working through a puzzle. I have to make a way given the wind speeds and directions; the Gulf stream current speed and direction; the currents that spin off the GS; and Inspired Sanity¬'s capability to sail hard to wind dealing with the confused and rising seastates; to sail to Rhode Island, before the 27th¬... the date, still a conservative date. I have time.
But I have challenges ahead. Cape Hatteras is a famous point on the US East Coast¬...it is the point where the weather patterns across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean tend to funnel creating nightmare storm centers we all hear about all winter¬... and all summer in the hurricane season. Hatteras is a pinnacle for a good reason. It also is where the hot waters of the Gulf Stream, screaming up from the south at 3-4kts meets the frigid waters of the Labrador Current coming down from Canada along the New England and then North East coast¬... Where the hot and cold waters meet creates a continual pattern of squalls and gusty weather, storms or not. Later in the summer season, high systems can bring a calm to Hatteras but rarely in the spring.
There is a relatively shallow shelf that extends from the NE coast south to a latitude just north of Hatteras, plenty of room for waters of the Labrador current to develop a current flow of its own, flowing down the coast and then back eddying to meet the current of the Gulf Stream. The GS follows the contour of the ocean floor, staying in the deeper waters, bending nearly due east just north east of Hatteras then heading across the Atlantic Ocean on way to Ireland, the reason for the palm trees on the south coast of county Cork, a temperate climate though at 53*N, the same latitude as the Hudson Bay in Canada¬...it is all about the warm water flow.
Yesterday was my first day below 100nm made good overall¬... I sailed 120nm through a maze of NW, NE, E, and N winds, each forcing me to go a certain way, close hauled sailing as close to the winds as I can, taking on the gusts and squalls. I was forced east of the Gulf Stream the day before in the NW winds, though it was a reasonable detour¬...it took me out of the river of the stream and the added speed.
I was surprised at the end of the 18th, that I had made such good headway overall, making 130nm¬...all made good on getting to RI. So when the winds clocked to the N and NE yesterday, I had some room to go west, but by the middle of last night, I was running out of sea room, the coast of NC and Cape Lookout only 45nm away, my course only clearing the Cape Lookout by a few degrees¬... I was moving fast in the GS at the time, though I would have slowed down as I sailed across the stream and out the west side.
I had to tack back to the east and at this point, I had the most NE winds I would have, most favorable for tacking to the E/ SE. It would give me the sea room I would need for the night, but also for the whole next day while the winds continued to clock to the east. I wouldn¬'t have true east winds until late afternoon and I could put some distance on in that time¬... I was surprised to find that I was able to maintain a descent speed once I tacked over and that the stream was edging me a bit of northerly push¬... my COG was 80*T¬...not so bad. The winds gusted through the night; I was up reefing until we were down to the third reef in the main and 2/3 a working jib left; we were in a rhythm and though it was rough, I did manage to get some rest¬... I don¬'t know about sleep, but the time went by quickly¬...
As the sun came up, I was anxious to be able to tack back around and maybe, true to my personality, I tacked too soon. Maybe we needed a bit more time to let the winds come around, but I was sailing a 110 degree course, SE by then¬... We should have had a good angle, but only to around 10 degrees¬... I was content with our making 15 degrees, it seemed we had a good angle going¬... But over time, we actually have been making less than that¬... closer to 10 degrees, an angle that will not clear the inner Hatteras waypoint, only 65nm away¬... and again, unless the winds clock around a bit more, I will be dangerously out of sea room again¬... but this time, with less favorable winds for tacking E¬... I will be doing a SE course at best¬... the wrong direction, backwards. And, the farther west I go, the farther east I have to have of a course to get around the waypoint¬... it is a negative positive feedback cycle. The farther I go the worse it gets¬... and not knowing when the winds will clock, I may have to tack to the east again¬... biding my time until the winds clock around enough to allow me to sail close hauled at an angle that will clear Hatteras¬...and I would like to be far enough east rounding Hatteras to avoid the counter current going south too close to shore due to that Labrador current heading south.
The weather is stacking up with gale after gale¬... the second gale now showing itself to be more significant rather than less. It is taking a strange route¬... coming off the coast south of Hatteras and then moving due north¬... right along the GS, heading for Long Island, bearing off the coast nearly at the shore to move east ¬... and given this storm is coming from the south, I will have all gale force northerly winds being north of the center of the storm¬... So¬... this is where we work through the puzzle.
Before this second gale started to take form, the day before yesterday, I had a great shot at a good rumline sail, the winds from the first gale, starting off north of me, will be SW and would take me halfway home in 2 fast days direct for RI..then there were to be NW winds¬... it was a perfect set up¬...though the SW winds would be gale force for a time¬... they would be on the stern; manageable. But when I opened the Grib file yesterday, a whopping huge red centered monstrocity of a gale was blaring in the middle of the chart on the 23rd into the 24th. Now this second gale changes everything. Now, the only safe place to be when that gale comes due north from Hatteras, packing 35kt North winds¬... cold north winds mind you¬... Fridig cold north winds¬...is going to be tucked in close to the east coast. Because this storm is not coming off the Chesapeake, instead south of Hatteras, the East coast will be in the outer edges of the storm, and with winds that are more NW than due N¬... and 15kts¬... the seas will tend to be less because the north winds come off the coast, with less time to develop into huge swells.
So¬... that is my plan¬... but I have to get around Hatteras first, safely staying off the coast¬... no matter what, that is my puzzle to solve today. I am watching the compass to see if we are edging a course toward the NE¬... though it is hard to know by watching the compass; there are too many variables and we are all over the place, moment to moment, falling from wave to trough and regaining momentum to course. Usually, I would just leave the GPS on to keep a running cross track, a calculation the GPS makes comparing the course you want to be on and the average course you are creating, telling you how far off you are, and in what direction, so you can adjust your steering to stay on track¬... Unfortunately, I didn¬'t buy a separate AC/DC power cord¬... and the GPS eats batteries for lunch, and dinner¬... but I guess I will have to set it to run for a while at this point. It will give me the information I need to make a better decision as to whether I really need to tack back to the east.
So there is a reason for my belaboring the whole situation today¬...I need to get north of Hatteras before the first storm builds to gale force winds¬... and then have time to get north onto the east coast, out of harms way of the center of the gale coming in on the 23rd. Once that gale moves to the east, I will follow behind it¬... I have no concerns for making it to RI on time¬....
STOP RIGHT THERE!!!... I can¬'t believe it¬... Well, I guess I can believe it¬... or maybe we should just wait and see what the Grib file will look like tomorrow¬... I took a break from typing and checked the new Grib file I started to download when I started typing the blog¬... Well¬... That big huge ugly red circulating storm just magically ¬... disappeared! How is that possible? From a huge monster gale to not only no gale, but light winds to boot¬... for the next week. CRAZY. Yes, Chris Parker had been suggesting that there was quite a bit of question about the second gale and how it was going to form¬...how severe it would be. But it is amazing to me that the powers that be would choose to go with one extreme one day, then the other, then back again¬... day after day.
And I am now pretty disillusioned¬... the storm is still plenty far away to bare several more ¬'tacts¬'. And unfortunately for me, ¬'to gale or not to gale¬', directly effects my decisions about how to go around Hatteras and where to head next. With the new Grib data, there is going to be NO wind on the east coast, forcing me to take a more direct rumline to RI¬... which is fine, unless the gale decides to come after all, squashing me¬... The weather pattern becomes one of low winds for the 23-24, but then the winds fill in absolutely beautifully from the SW so I should have a slippery slope toward RI for a timely landing¬... But¬... then again¬... anything is possible.
Soooo¬... some things don¬'t change. I went through this mental geometry day-in and day-out around the whole world. I have had a bit of a break from it these last months, not having access to Gribs after the knockdowns at Cape Horn¬... It is exhausting to try to use the forecast to work the puzzle to make headway effectively. Unfortunately, I never have developed a more intuitive approach to sensing what the weather is ¬'really going to do¬'. And without any information about the way the highs and lows are developing on the land, across the US, Canada and Gulf of Mexico¬... I have no real information to use to make an educated guess¬... even an intuitive educated guess allowing some life energy input¬... So¬... I will see. I am liking those SW winds from the 24th through to the 27th¬... I hope they don¬'t go away.
Well¬... so now we are just on a rumline home, the winds forcing tacks as they will¬... mostly to the west so given the winds clock to SW eventually, it will all be perfect¬...
Meanwhile, there is a whole other saga going on¬... the true love story of this journey. Bob has had a great season of working as a yacht manager and captain¬... so good that he hasn¬'t stopped moving for a month or more¬... and he has a yacht delivery that must make it to its home in Mass. for the Friday before the Memorial day weekend¬...the day I am officially arriving.
Bob just returned from the Bahamas Wednesday, and left this morning, now compelled to arrive in time¬... He has to be there when I return¬... though it will not change our amazing life together ¬... it will just be so wrong to arrive without him there¬... So, he also is checking the weather daily, plotting his course up the coast¬... with each of these forecast changes, he too, is recalculating his options and potential progress. I have to say that the most recent forecast favors a more benign coastal ascent ¬... less wind is always better on a motor yacht delivery, always!!
So Keep your eyes on the TRACKER¬... We have two amazing sailing couple friends, Scott and Kitty and Bart and Dottie, who are making their way north as well this week. And the whole of the SAWLTY DAWG rally is on their way north¬... So I am sure that they are all watching with bated breath as the forecasts vary, though they are listening to Chris Parker on the radio, so he is letting them know the possibilities along the way¬... versus the Grib file modeling that chooses a single forecast to publish each day. Maybe this is there way of letting us know the options ahead¬...by publishing one model one day, and another on the subsequent day¬... I guess that works. I am now well aware of both possibilities. Though I have to make a choice tomorrow as to which way to go with the SW winds¬...
Crashing Crashing over the Gulf Stream we go¬... it is a raucous we make bashing into the seas¬... Day after day. But I have managed to get some rest. As I have said before, once I am close hauled, unable to actually adjust my course, other than keep us tight to the wind, I am off the hook somewhat to keep adjusting the steering to stay on a particular course. I can actually focus on something other than jumping up and fidgeting with the steering or weather helm¬...
I am writing away. Articles¬... and yesterday, I managed to write two songs¬... amazing. It is wild how songs are born, when there is enough saved up creative energy, and a bit of time to focus to allow the flow to complete its birthing¬... songs and articles do come.
Please feel free to suggest article topics for me. I am planning one based on my boom repair¬... soft sailing¬... creative engineering¬... Let me know what topics you would like to hear more about.
Keepin On Sailin On Caring¬... In the quiet of meditation, creativity finds its way to the surface of the present. But if I were to try to force a creative outcome, I would find my mind empty. It is beauty and love all flowing, finding a way to express itself.
As Chris Vogler mentioned in his book, The Writer¬'s Journey, when we are too distracted in life to allow our creativity to express itself, it becomes energy that cannot flow becoming a shadow within us, usurping our life.
Dr. Jeanne DeRousseau shared with me how the energy flow becomes bound up within us and preventing our truest communion with life energy¬... like a battery, without a completed circuit, energy cannot flow. When we deny our expression¬'s release, it prevents the flow of life energy that sustains us, bringing us abundance¬... (Dottie)¬... So, it was a joy to feel my creative energy have an outlet in the late hours of the night¬...
Fairest of Winds and the Love of the Oceans Only Gratitude, Donna