Day 198, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 4-Yucky

Day 198, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 4-Yucky
Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Weather: Partly Cloudy; Winds NW 15 Knots and Building
Latitude: 24 01.154 N
Longitude: 069 48.436 W
Miles Traveled: 419
Miles to Go: 753
Location: Passage from Puerto Rico to Mainland USA

If I were 4 I think I would describe this day as . . . yucky. Since I’m 60 years older than that, I should probably be able to describe the day in a more adult manner. But I can’t. The winds are against us, we are beating into waves coming from the same direction as the wind, and even pushing the engine to 2200 RPMs we are having difficulty moving forward. It is just yucky! It could be much, much worse, so for that we are thankful. But we are still having to motor to make any progress, and even with that we are moving much more slowly than we would like. As I write this, the winds are increasing to 18 knots and we are off course going to the east to make any progress at all. For the second day in a row, Mark is trying to check into the weather net, but somehow they are not hearing us.

Break, break-As I was writing the above, dark clouds passed over head and the wind switched to the N. We have now tacked are SAILING!!! It is a hobby horse ride, but we now have the 15 knots of wind working a bit in our favor. If the wind would clock a bit more to the east we could go a bit faster. But for now we’ll give the engine a break and sail along at 4.5 knots. Interesting how everything can change in a matter of moments.

Day 197, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 3-Still Motoring

Day 197, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 3-Still Motoring
Date: Monday, May 9, 2011
Weather: Beautiful Day; NO Wind ’til Mid-Afternoon–NW 8-10 Knots
Latitude: 22 24.786 N
Longitude: 068 47.621 W
Miles Traveled: 306
Miles to Go: 863
Location: Passage from Puerto Rico to Mainland USA

Windbird is currently motor sailing to the northwest about 150 miles to the east of the Turks and Caicos. Then for the next three or so days we will be passing about the same distance to the east of the Bahamas. Our tentative arrival in Little River, South Carolina, is on Tuesday, May 17 unless things change and we can make better time. After two days of no wind, it looks like we are now going to have adverse winds most of rest of the way. This could slow us down even more, but the weather report changes every time we get in a new GRIB. So, as always, we have to just wait and see how things go. There is a weather system north of Bermuda causing our difficulties. We had absolutely no wind and the most beautiful glassy seas until about two hours ago. At that point the wind started filling in from the NW and is now blowing a steady 8-10 knots. But the direction of the wind is exactly on our nose. Right now Mark is trying to get some weather information from Herb on Southbound II. Herb is on the HF radio. We have not been successful in checking in with him, but we listen to see what he is telling other cruisers. Once that radio sched is over, we will make a decision to either sail off course to take advantage of the little wind we have or to continue motoring directly into the wind.

Mid-day we turned off the engine to check the oil and had a bit of a scare when the engine would not restart. Every time this has happened to us over the last five and half years, it has been a problem with our starter battery. Our house batteries are AGMs and don’t need to be filled with water, but the starter battery is just a plain old car battery and it seems to need water very often. Evidently we forgot to check it recently and the cells were dry. So we had to by-pass it and use the house batteries to start the engine. This is not a problem, but Mark thinks we will need to buy a new starter battery-AGAIN!

My watches last night and early this morning were incredibly beautiful. During the night, the sea was like glass and the phosphorescence in our wake glowed with magic sparkles while the stars twinkled in the sky and were reflected on the surface of the water. There were so many stars last night and I was a bit surprised that we can still see the Southern Cross. I’m not sure at what latitude it sinks below the horizon and is no longer visible, but I am enjoying still having it as a nighttime companion, along with the Big Dipper to the north. On my early morning watch, I had quite a light show. Just before sunrise a pink glow radiated from the water as the sun made its ascent. The sky and water in front of us all melded together in one hazy shade of light blue, but the sky to the east was blazing with pinks, reds, and oranges as the sun peaked its head above the horizon. With the glassy sea, the light was bouncing all over. So we’re using a little more fuel than hoped, but the calm conditions provided some beautiful visual memories.

Day 196, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 2-Motoring, Motoring

Day 196, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 2-Motoring, Motoring
Date: Sunday, May 8, 2011
Weather: Beautiful Day; Winds ESE 4-7 Knots; 80 degrees F
Latitude: 20 50.082 N
Longitude: 067 35.633 W
Miles Traveled: 189
Miles to Go: 980
Location: Passage from Puerto Rico to Mainland USA

This Atlantic Ocean can be such a fickle creature. We had such a beautiful sail yesterday, but that ended at exactly midnight. That’s when the wind died and we have been motor sailing since. No matter what we do, this boat is not going to sail in 5 knots of wind. From the weather information we have, it looks like we are motoring into a high pressure system and when we come out of this we could be hit with 15 knot winds from the north-northwest-exactly the direction in which we are headed. So winds on the nose will mean more motoring. So it is a waiting game. Hopefully something will change and we will get favorable winds.

Happy Mother’s Day to any mothers reading this log. And a special Happy Mother’s Day to my two favorite mothers-my daughter Heather and my daughter-in-law Jo. Watching them care for our grandchildren while in Vieques was such a special time. Both are mothers par excellance, both in totally different ways. So Heather and Jo, hope you have both had an incredibly wonderful Mother’s Day.

Day 195, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 1-Sailing, Sailing

Day 195, Year 6 Passage to the Carolinas, Day 1-Sailing, Sailing
Date: Saturday, May 7, 2011
Weather: Overcast Early, Turning Beautiful and Sunny
Wind and Temperature: Winds E 12-14 Knots; 80 degrees F
Latitude: 19 00.969 N
Longitude: 066 06.169 W
Miles Traveled: 51
Miles to Go: 1117
Location: Passage from Puerto Rico to Mainland USA

The weather projections were just a little off, and for once, the difference was in our favor. Instead of 7 to 9 knots of wind, we have had 10 to14 knots all day. That is not much of a difference, but it is just enough that with our angle to the wind the conditions have made for a perfect beam reach with all tree sails flying. We have 2 to 3 foot seas and have been traveling between 5 and 6 knots plus all day under clear blue skies. Glorious! But I must admit that the early morning start was not quite that perfect. The sky was totally overcast when I went down to flake chain while Mark raised the anchor. This is routine for us, and as far as I know, it has never been an emotional experience. But this morning as the anchor was coming up, I got all teary-eyed when I realized that this is the last time we will be raising anchor in our world circumnavigation. We’ll be in a marina in South Carolina and will leave there and head straight for Woods Hole where the anchor will go down officially ending our voyage around the world. Raising that anchor this morning felt like letting go of the beautiful cruising life we have been living for almost six years. But then I thought of what lies ahead-quality time with family and friends of a lifetime. I wiped away the tears and started to think about the future that will include more time with grandchildren and all was well.

Before leaving this morning, I checked our daughter’s blog site,, and found myself looking at a photo of four year-old Sam building one of the many sand castle forts that he constructed on the beach in Vieques last week. That image triggered a flood of memories . . . barely two year-old Ziggy lying naked on his stomach in the water squealing with joy and pretending to swim . . . curly-headed, almost two year-old Jonah holding my hand and bouncing along on the beach looking for sea glass . . four year-old Sam building and rebuilding those sand castles and sailing his palm fond boats. . . Justin and Jo in snorkel gear walking over the inner barrier reef and swimming off to see the wonders in the sea . . . Heather and Jed walking down the beach with both of their boys looking for wild horses and other treasures of the sea washed ashore. These images are helping to erase the apprehension of heading home and are starting to build an excitement for what lies ahead.

But for the moment, we are enjoying this sail immensely. Today’s sail is one of the nicest we have had, and certainly the nicest sail we have ever had in the Atlantic Ocean. Let’s hope we just have more of the same for days.