07/11/2016 – Caribbean, here we come.

As the start had been brought forward to Saturday and was to be a passage start we made our way out of Portsmouth just before noon. In fact we were one of the last boats to leave the marina, however it didn’t matter as we had to record our start time as we sailed over the Bay Bridge Tunnel, three and a half hours after tossing our dock lines having motored just about all the way! We only had one minor problem leaving Portsmouth. A huge cruise ship, the Carnival Sunshine, was making its way slowly along the Elizabeth River into Norfolk. A well armed Rib was maintaining a 500 yard exclusion zone around it but the river wasn’t that wide where we passed it! We were told to stay hard to the right, i.e. starboard side, which we did without getting told off for getting too close to the many navy boats docked there which also have a patrolled exclusion zone. We sailed across the start line and sailed for the first hour until our speed dropped to less than 2 knots. At this speed it makes sense to incur penalty hours for use of the engine, especially as we had about 1400 miles to go in a straight line, but who ever sails in a straight line? The first night was lit by the lights of a number of boats around us so it was necessary to keep a good lookout, my excuse for not writing a log yesterday. Saturday night’s dinner was a sausage casserole with pasta which was quick and easy as the casserole had been cooked last week and frozen. By dawn on Sunday the wind had filled in from behind so, as soon as John got up, we gybed the main, set up the pole and pulled out the jib on the other side. We charged along with this sail plan for 14 hours though we did take in two reefs in the main before dinner as the wind was building steadily. The sea was a bit rougher than earlier but nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Our transit of the Gulf Stream was characterised by the boat making 20 degrees less than it was steering because the current was pushing us NE. We knew we had completed the crossing and found the helpful eddy when our track first matched then exceeded our heading. Dinner on Sunday was a creamy Chicken, Peanut and Butternut Curry with rice, absolutely delicious and also cooked last week then frozen. Day’s run from crossing the start line on Saturday at 15:13 to noon Sunday was 127 nautical Miles (nM) towards our waypoint, we actually sailed a bit further than that because we had to clear the entrance to the Chesapeake before turning onto the course. We had plotted a slightly zigzag course to (1) take us through the Gulf Stream where it is a manageable speed, (2) find a helpful eddy to push us south and east, (3) get in some easting before meeting the trade winds, thus avoiding a long beat into the wind, and (4) a southerly course towards our destination of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We have had to change our waypoints slightly to keep us away from some big seas left over from a gale off Bermuda so we might still land up with a beat! We shall see. Joyce.

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