Day 186, Year 10: We Made It
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Weather: Overcast, 70’s F, Winds SE to SW 10
Latitude: 33 51.735 N
Longitude: 078 38.287 W
Location: Lightkeepers Marina, Little River, SC
Miles Traveled: 82 nm
There was some question yesterday as to whether or not the wind would come around and allow us to make the speed necessary to come in today. But it did and we are here. Hurray! Little River has become our second home and it feels great to be here. It is still totally overcast, but the rain we had overnight and into the morning is now gone. At least Windbird got washed off before coming into port. When we called James here at the marina this morning, he told us we would be in the slip next to Sea Turtle. Lynda and Lee will arrive tomorrow after what I’m sure feels like an eternity in the Waterway. It took us 5 days to the minute from Palm Beach to here offshore and that included going into Cumberland Island to duck out of the weather on Saturday night. Sea Turtle left Palm Beach a week before us and it will be 13 days by the time they get here tomorrow. It is a much longer trip, but at least in the Waterway, you can continue when the weather turns against you and know that you will be safe. We’re already thinking about our departure from here going home to Cape Cod, and we’re pretty sure we’ll do the 7 days in the Intracoastal from here to Norfolk just to avoid Cape Hatteras. Hopefully we will then get to go outside at Norfolk. But, no worries about that just yet. My sister Patsy is coming to get us in just a few minutes and we’ll have dinner together and catch up on what has been happening in their lives over the past three and a half months since we left here. We can’t wait to spend time with Patsy and Joe.
I spent much of my day recording trip statistics for our “Winter 2015 Adventure”. We traveled a little more than 2,250 miles from here to Florida to the Bahamas and back to here. The downside is that we were only able to sail 20 percent of the time. That is an all-time low for us. And our overall speed was only 5.2 knots. This is also an all-time low for Windbird. Our average speed is almost always 5.5 knots and we usually sail at least 50 per cent of the time. Highlights for the winter all involved getting together with family and friends in warm and beautiful places. We enjoyed our visits with Sue and Brad in Boynton Beach and our visit to the West Coast of Florida to visit with Mark’s family. We also got to visit with some of our New Hampshire friends. We had lunch with Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg in Fort Myers and we had a great time with Tom and Detta Porat when they visited us in Coconut Grove. And then there were those ‘Fab Five’ days we spent with our friends Kevin and Claire aboard in the Exumas. Everything was just perfect for the entire time they were with us and it was by far the best week we had in the Bahamas. One of the grandest treats of all was getting to be in anchorages with Constance once again. The last time we cruised together was in Madagascar in 2010, so it was a real treat when we sailed into Black Point and anchored next to Ed and Lynne and then sailed to Cambridge Cay with them. All glorious and fun times. There were definitely battles with the weather, battles with boat issues, and battles with trying to meet time deadlines with Mark’s cancer treatment schedule. But when I close my eyes and think about the winter, all I can see is the clear, blue water of the Bahamas and fantastic fish that we saw while snorkeling. So it was well worth the 2,250 miles and untold gallons of diesel.
Day 185, Year 10: Slow Go with a Late Day Ray of Hope
Date: Monday, April 13, 2015
Weather: Overcast, Then Partly Sunny, Mid-70’s F, Winds NE to E to SE 15
Latitude: 32 28,730 N
Longitude: 079 55.918 W
Location: ~10 Miles Off the South Carolina Coast Near Edisto Island
Miles Traveled: 141 nm
Last evening and overnight the N winds persisted, sometimes up to 22 knots, always coming straight at us and slowing us way down. Around midnight it was a ride ‘em cowboys adventure with SE winds and rain, but by the time Mark came back on watch at 1:30 am things were settling down and the wind was back to the NE, right on our nose. But at least it had stopped raining. This morning as we continued to sail to the NE, the NE winds persisted. And when we got to the Savannah area and turned a bit to the E, so did the wind. Again, the weather forecast changed from what we had researched yesterday. We should have had SE winds today, but not to be . . . until late this afternoon. All of a sudden some of the clouds cleared above to let the sun shine through and the wind turned to the SE. So that is the ray of hope. We are still motoring, motoring, motoring, and much of the time we have not been able to go faster than 4 knots. But the change in wind direction two hours ago seems like a little miracle. The wind is still a little in front of us, but for now we are making good time. If this keeps up, we might make Little River by tomorrow evening. If it doesn’t and we can’t make it all the way during the daylight hours tomorrow, we will have to duck into the Intracoastal. In that case, we will anchor for the night with the hope of going on to Little River on Wednesday . . . if the winds aren’t too ugly. Another cold front is coming off the coast and bringing more N winds. But for now, we’re going to enjoy the sunshine and fair winds and hope for the best.
Day 184, Year 10: ‘Adjustment’ in Sail Plan
Date: Sunday, April 12, 2015
Weather: Overcast, Mid-70’s F, Winds NE 15 NE
Latitude: 31 08.116 N
Longitude: 081 08.475 W
Location: ~3 Miles Off St. Simons Island, Georgia
Miles Traveled: 36.7 nm
We were supposed to be having a relaxed day sitting behind Cumberland Island, but a change in the weather report this morning got us moving immediately. The NE winds forecast for today looked lighter than expected and were supposed to turn E by 3 pm, so this gave us the chance to leave earlier than planned. We went out of the pass at low slack tide with no problem and headed north by 10 am. We should arrive in Little River on Tuesday morning. Arrival on Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, is the second reason we left this morning. If we waited to leave until tonight we would arrive on Wednesday and NOAA is now saying that another cold front will move over the area in the Tuesday-Wednesday time frame bringing 15-20 knot NE winds along the South Carolina coast and into Little River. Hopefully we’ll beat that and be nice and secure at the dock before the next NE blow comes. It’s funny how many times this winter we have had to endure these NE blows even though we have been in Florida and the Bahamas. Up north we would call them nor’easters. Not sure you call them that down here, but the result is the same—lots of wind and cooler temperatures with one ‘little’ difference—we don’t get the blizzards!
It is now 5:30 pm and the winds are still coming from the N. Because we are not far offshore, we still have internet and all the sources tell us the wind will clock to the E in the next couple of hours. In the meantime, we motor along. We are just starting to get some drizzle, so it looks like it will be a damp, dark night. The little moon that we have doesn’t rise until the middle of the night and with the heavy cloud cover, it won’t help all that much. And it looks like we are in for clouds and precipitation all week. Maybe the rain will wash some of the salt off this boat. That would be a very good thing.
I spent part of my day learning about two new navigational aids. One is found at windyty.com and it shows you a wind map and weather forecast for the area you specify. The wind map is really great. Not sure how accurate it is, but it is lots of fun to watch. You can move to new locations with your mouse and it shows the wind direction every three hours. The other is a ship tracker app called Marine Traffic. We saw two ships ahead at one point this afternoon and they didn’t appear to be moving. Mark showed me how to find out using Marine Traffic. Navigation and weather watching is so much easier now than it was when we started our trek around the world in 2005.
Day 183, Year 10: Hanging Out Behind Cumberland Island
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Weather: Overcast, Upper 70’s F, Winds 5-10 SW Going NW
Latitude: 30 46.021 N
Longitude: 081 28,288 W
Location: Cumberland Island, Georgia
Miles Traveled: 262 nm
After a thorough review of various weather sources this morning, we decided to stop here at Cumberland Island to avoid NE winds tonight and tomorrow. Tonight they would have been only 10 knots, but tomorrow they increase to 15 with gusts to 20 during the day north of here and that just didn’t sound like fun. A cold front came off the coast of the Carolinas today causing the offshore weather a little further north of us to be not so inviting right now. But by tomorrow evening the NE winds should dissipate and then we will head north to do two more overnights (two days and two nights) that will get us ‘almost’ to Little River. Since we won’t be leaving here until sunset tomorrow, we should arrive south of Myrtle Beach in the Georgetown area on Tuesday evening, anchor for the night, and then continue on to Little River on Wednesday. At least that is the plan at this point. Part of me just wanted to continue on and bash into the NE winds, but the Captain made the decision to stop. It is so nice and calm here and we will get a good night’s sleep and a day of rest before continuing on. And hopefully we will avoid NE winds. So it was a good decision.
We must be creatures of habit. We stopped here on our way south, so I think we thought we should stop here on the way back north. When we entered the pass leading into here on New Year’s Day we had wind against current and it was a ROUGH entry. Coming in the pass today was nice and calm, but leaving tomorrow night we will definitely have wind against us. We are going to try and time it so we go out at slack tide, but that doesn’t always work. Hopefully it won’t be too rough. Our friends Ed and Lynne on Constance entered the pass here on Thursday at 2:30 in the morning and thankfully they had a smooth ride. We talked to them today as we were coming in. They are only 5-10 miles from here at a boatyard in St. Mary’s, but there was no way for us to visit today. So close, yet so far away. They are leaving early in the morning and driving in a rental car to Florida to pick up their car. Constance is already out of the water and they will leave her here while they spend time with family in Michigan and New York this summer. So we will just have to plan a summer get together somewhere between New York and Cape Cod. Our traveling buddies this winter, Lee and Lynda on Sea Turtle, spent last night north of St. Catherine’s Island which is a little south of Savannah. They are making 60 miles a day in the Intracoastal which is fantastic for waterway travel, but it is a long slog north from Palm Beach to Little River. They have been traveling for nine days now, but I’m not sure just how many days they have to go to get to Little River. It might be possible that we’ll arrive around the same time.