Day 241, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 5-Yellowfin Tuna!!!

Day 241, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 5-Yellowfin Tuna!!!
Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 4:30 pm
Weather: Partly Cloudy Early; Overcast with Rain Late Afternoon
Wind: SW 14-16 Knots
Latitude: 40 04.860 N
Longitude: 071 48.502 W
Location: Offshore New Jersey/New York–South of Long Island
Miles Traveled: 578 (67 miles to Block Island)

Rex reeled in a beautiful, BIG yellowfin tuna this afternoon. Rex has been out on deep sea fishing trips and friends caught a barracuda while he was with them in the Bahamas, but he has never had the thrill of fighting a fish. Rex and I were standing on the bow on lookout for one of the many fishing buoys with radar reflectors attached that we were passing. We had the CD player blaring Jimmy Buffet but all of a sudden I heard something like a scream. Rex and I thought it was either the music or a bird, but neither seemed plausible to me. After five or ten minutes, I suddenly realized that it was probably the fishing reel paying out line that I had heard, so we rushed back to the aft end of the boat to check. Yep-that was it. Mark had been down taking a shower and got up just in time to help us figure out which thing to switch on the fishing reel to try and bring the apparent fish in. He was struggling as “whatever” was still fighting, so Rex took over and after a good fight, he got the fish close enough for Mark to use the gaff hook to bring it in. It was obviously a tuna and when we saw the bright yellow fins and compared it to our fish chart, it became obvious that it was a yellowfin. In Hawaii they call yellowfin “ahi” which means fire, and the fins on this big baby looked like flickering fire. The fish was over two and half feet in length and we’re not sure how heavy, but it was heftier than any yellowfin Mark caught in Chagos. Rex is not a sushi lover, so we froze most of the filets and kept back just enough to have blackened tuna tonight. We’ll have sushi Friday night when we reach Woods Hole. So Heather and Jed (and Sam), if you are reading this, get ready for sushi! I’m saying Friday night because we made a decision this afternoon to make a stop at Block Island tomorrow. BUT if this rainy, foggy, yucky weather that we are currently experiencing continues into the morning, we might change direction and head straight for Woods Hole tomorrow. If we can’t make it all the way, we’ll stop somewhere in the Elizabeth Islands tomorrow night and be in Woods Hole on Friday. The weather will dictate our decision.

As par for the course, the wind has changed since I started writing this log at 4:30 pm. We now have 18-22 knots of wind, still from the south and for the first time since just before midnight on Monday night, we are sailing. The seas are calm so we are sailing along with just the full main sail out and managing to go 6 knots. But the winds are building, so who knows what the night will bring. And if we keep going this fast, we’ll have to head for Woods Hole as we would arrive at Block Island during the night.

Day 240, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 4-Happy Birthday, Jo!

Day 240, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 4-Happy Birthday, Jo!
Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 5:30 pm
Weather: Cloudy with a Spot of Sun Here and There
Wind: SW 12 Knots
Latitude: 38 27.328 N
Longitude: 073 17.273 W
Location: Offshore Delaware
Miles Traveled: 444 (~220 miles to Cape Cod)

Happy birthday to Jo, our daughter-in-law. Justin, Jo, and Ziggy are on a road trip and are somewhere in California right now. Silvermouse, their music group, has been playing at various venues for the past two weeks, but soon they will be headed back to New Mexico just in time to fly to England to spend a month with Jo’s family. But wherever you are today, Jo, we hope you had a fabulous day.

We have certainly had a better day today. We were forced to continue heading to the west until almost midnight last night, but then the wind and seas calmed down enough for us to head back on course. We had to motor since the wind was still coming from the direction we were headed, so progress was very slow (2-3 knots) until this morning when the wind turned a bit allowing us to go 4 knots with a 1-2 knot negative current. We still have a bit of negative current but are now motoring at about 5 knots. At this rate we could be in Block Island, Rhode Island on Thursday morning or possibly all the way to Woods Hole on Cape Cod by Thursday evening. We haven’t decided whether or not we will make a stop. I guess we’ll just see where the wind or lack of wind blows us.

I think we have all recovered from yesterday. It was just one really miserable day. But everything is now dried out. We had clear skies early this morning and I thought it was going to be a beautiful day, but then the clouds moved in. The temperature is about 74 degrees so without the sun, it actually feels cool. But even at night, I’m still in shorts but with a polar fleece jacket. Mark and I are not sure how we are going to adapt to the cooler temperature, but we heard on the weather radio today that tomorrow and Thursday the temps on land will be in the 90’s. Maybe that will help us with the adjustment period.

Day 239, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 3–Weather, Weather

Day 239, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 3–Weather, Weather
Date: Monday, June 20, 2011, 5:30 pm
Weather: Overcast with Heavy Rain All Day
Wind: Currently NE 22-32 Knots
Latitude: 37 18.652 N
Longitude: 073 44.624 W
Location: Offshore Delmarva Peninsula
Miles Traveled: 328

Rex says he is “one with the water” and right now that is a good thing. The rain has come down in torrents all day and Windbird has lost her reputation as the driest boat on the seas. Our cockpit enclosure is leaking everywhere, so there is no way to sit in the cockpit without getting wet. The wind has been backing all day and is now coming from the northeast, exactly the direction we need to go. And the wind is coming in torrents as well as the rain. It goes from 22 to 25 knots and then up to 30 to 32 and then back. So today, June 20, 2011, with its strong winds, heavy rain, building seas, and miserable condition in the cockpit gets our vote as the single-most miserable day of our entire circumnavigation. We’ve had rougher conditions and a few miserable nights, but we can’t remember a day with these conditions. I guess Neptune has been saving up the best for last to give us this one last test. Thankfully Rex has not succumbed to seasickness again even though he removed the patch this morning. He is being a trouper and hanging in there. But to add to our miseries, our 110-volt electrical system has gone out. Mark hasn’t had time yet to figure out the problem, so we are using a DC adaptor for our main navigation computer. Everything onboard except the computers and battery chargers run off DC, so we are fine for now, but what a pain. We spent most of the morning beating into wind and seas which made for a very rough ride, so we probably have a loose connection somewhere. Right now we are having to head due west toward land as we can’t possibly beat into 30 knots of wind. So for now we are not making progress toward our destination. We are just running with the wind in order to keep from beating. We were making such good time so this is a disappointing set-back, but hopefully conditions will change sometime during the night allowing us to head back to the northeast.

Day 238, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 2b-All’s Well

Day 238, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 2b-All’s Well
Date: Sunday, June 19, 2011, 6:00 pm
Weather: Sunny, Totally Overcast, Sunny, Lower 80’s
Wind: SW 20-24 Knots
Latitude: 34 55.569 N
Longitude: 075 09.291 W
Location: Coast of North Carolina off Cape Hatteras
Miles Traveled: 203

All is well aboard Windbird. Rex is feeling much better and is having his first beer since coming aboard. And hopefully he will be able to eat dinner tonight. The seas have calmed a bit and we are traveling at 10+ knots in the Gulf Stream. We are currently sailing with only one sail, a full main, and the ride is nice and easy swaying from side to side. The day started as totally overcast, cleared to a completely blue sky, become totally overcast again, and is now clearing and sunny. We’re hoping we can stick with the Gulf Stream for at least another day as we are enjoying the fast ride.

We would like to thank my sister Patsy and her husband Joe for taking such good care of us while we were visiting in the Carolinas. Patsy and Joe’s backyard adjoins Meadowlands Golf Course, but Joe really enjoys gardening and attracting blue birds in their yard. Joe and I had great fun watching the blue birds nesting, planting beans and kale, and getting a compost bin started while Patsy and I just enjoyed being together. So Patsy and Joe, we just want you to know how much we appreciated the hospitality and the chance to just be together. Thank you so much.

Day 238, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 2a-Happy Father’s Day!

Day 238, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 2a-Happy Father’s Day!
Date: Sunday, June 19, 2011, 11:15 am
Weather: Sunny, Upper 80’s
Wind: SW 22-32 Knots Overnight; 20-25 Knots Morning
Latitude: 34 06.405 N
Longitude: 075 47.466 W
Location: Coast of North Carolina off Cape Lookout
Miles Traveled: 1 61

This is just a quick end-of-the-first twenty-four hours update. A full log will follow this evening. But we want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all those special fathers we know, especially the fathers of our grandchildren-our son Justin and our son-in-law Jed. The fathers on this boat, Mark and Rex, didn’t get their Father’s Day breakfast extravaganza today as Rex was just not up to eating. Just after sending last night’s log, the winds and seas did indeed increase and an already seasick Rex had to put a Scopolamine patch behind his ear to combat the sickness. But he was already too sick and the conditions just got rougher and rougher, so he went to bed without dinner. He got up at 5 am and looked outside and went right back to bed-still too rough. But at 8:30 am we made a turn further northward and at the same time the winds calmed down a bit, allowing him to rejoin the living. He couldn’t eat much breakfast, but right now he is sitting in the cockpit reading, looking out, reading, looking out. I think he’s going to make it this time! Hopefully once we pass Hatteras things will settle even more and he can enjoy the rest of the passage.

We did have one very fast 24-hour run making 161 miles and much of that was made with a one to two knot negative current. The waves during the night built to 6-9 feet and we were sailing directly downwind making a wishy-washy motion. Right now the seas are 6-7 feet coming from the West and hitting us on the aft quarter. This is a much more comfortable ride. More this evening?

Day 237, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 1-Fast Start

Day 237, Year 6 Passage to Cape Cod, Day 1-Fast Start
Date: Saturday, June 18, 2011, 4:30 pm
Weather: Partly Cloudy and Hazy, Upper 80’s
Wind: SW 15-17 Knots and Building
Latitude: 33 37.680 N
Longitude: 078 04.644 W
Location: Off the Coast of North Carolina

We left Lightkeepers Marina before noon. My sister Patsy came to see us off. She walked down to the lighthouse to give us a final farewell wave and then we were motoring in the Intracoastal. We passed the buoy well outside the Intracoastal at 1 pm, so we’ve only been sailing for about three and a half hours in these choppy, sloshy seas. We’re making great time averaging better than seven knots because we are on a beam reach. I said in last night’s log that I wasn’t sure that my nephew Rex, our crew member on this passage, has been on sailboats before. But today he reminded me that he went out once on our previous boat Sky Breaker when we sailed to Myrtle Beach in the late 1990’s. And he chartered once with friends in the Caribbean, but there wasn’t much wind and they didn’t get to sail a lot. So he is getting a real introduction this afternoon. It’s not really rough, but we’re leaning enough to make it a challenging ride. We are getting tossed around a bit and once in a while waves crashing over the starboard side. Right now we are sailing ESE on a course of 110 degrees. Before dark, however, we should be able to head to the north and the wind and seas will be behind us making the ride quite different. We’re heading ESE until we get far enough out to sea to stay safely off Cape Fear. By Monday moening we should be past the Outer Banks and then things should settle down considerably. Of course, if the wind decreases as forecast, we could be motoring by then. So we’ll enjoy the fast ride now and just wait and see what kind of wind we really get. Right now both Mark and Rex are down taking a mid-afternoon nap so they will be well rested for doing first watch tonight. Since this log is being posted so soon after leaving, I will try to send another log in the morning to let you know how things are going.