Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Windward Passage had to head back to Trellis Bay so Kathy and John can get their flight out tomorrow. I know they are anxious to get back to their boat (Oceana) and get started on their own adventure in the Bahamas.
Today, it rained all day so we just hung out on the boat at Leverick Bay and had school. Not sure what we're doing tomorrow yet - depends again on the weather. We will be heading back over to Road Town sometime this week to pick up a package, then probably back to Virgin Gorda for the Jumbies on Friday night. I will post a photo of the "Jumbies" if we get to see them.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Day 1, Oct 31: 164 nm
Gulf Stream crossing.
Day 2: 128 nm
Today started out with light and variable winds. We motored and then motor-sailed. Then at around 10AM the wind picked up to around 20 knots and we were making good time. The wind was from the South so we sailed Southeast towards Bermuda, and worked as much South as we could manage. The crew was still recovering from the very rough passage across the Gulf Stream so heading to windward wasn’t very popular, but we had no choice. Today we noticed that we had almost chafed through the 1st reef line in the main sail. We set the 2nd reef and will change the 1st reef line when the seas are calmer. Today the seas were mostly 5’-7’ from the South.
Day 3: 158nm
Overnight continued to be very windy and the winds continued throughout the day from the South and Southwest. Seas were 4-6feet increasing to 6-8 feet.
Day 4: 130nm
Today started with a nice respite from the rough sailing we’ve had to date. The front we’ve been racing south caught back up with us and gave us light NW winds. We rigged the sails for downwind sailing and set about straightening up and getting some rest. We replaced the chafed reef line and took some much needed hot showers! Love the water maker! The day ended up with the wind filling in from the Northwest, giving us 20 knots of fair winds and following seas.
Day 5: 143nm
Today started out windy with the Northeasterly winds, but then we appeared to catch up with the front we’ve been playing tag with (or another one, it’s hard to keep track) and the winds clocked around to the South and died off. We fired up the motor to help out and did some fishing. Didn’t catch anything this time. I guess the fish were hanging out in the deeps.
Day 6: 141nm
The wind continued clocking around to the Northwest and we had a nice downhill ride all day. Winds were around 20 knots and the seas were 6 foot rollers on the stern.
Day 7: 162nm
We’re getting some early Northeasterly Trade Winds now and so we’ve got plenty of wind forecasted for rest of the trip. We had Northeast winds in the high 20’s and 8 – 10 foot following seas the whole day. Two reefs in both the main and jib. We were over-reefed, but doing so to keep boat speed down to the low to mid 7’s. There were large cross swells which caused a very bouncy ride when boat speed was in the 8+ knot range and Jen and Quinn were not pleased with that!
Day 8: 171nm
Tried to keep boat speed down, but even with 2 reefs in the main and three in the jib we spent most of the morning going 8 knots or more in 30 to 35 knots of wind. Big following seas. Hard to estimate in the dark, but seemed to be in the 10 to 14 foot range. We were frequently surfing down the front face at 10 to 16 knots. Exciting and a bit nerve wracking as this is the fastest I’ve ever sailed Mirasol (or any sailboat for that matter). Once again we had heavy cross swells from a distant system that were causing us some interesting moments. At one point we got slammed in the beam by a cross wave while surfing down a big following sea. Mirasol swung around hard sending items normally very secure on their shelves flying. I’m glad that only happened once.
As a treat after the long night, Jen made the crew some yummy Brittany Trawler Hash for breakfast. In the middle of the prep work we were tagged by a beam wave that knocked the coffee press flying. Fortunately, most of the coffee and grounds were confined to the galley counter and the worst casualties were a couple of brand new dish towels.
Day 9: In progress
Good winds on the beam. 18 to 25 knots of wind with 10-12 foot following rolling swells. Right now we’re going at 8.2 knots in 25 knots of wind with 2 reefs in the main and jib (approximately 40% of our sails up) We’re on track for a dawn landfall in the BVI. (Or Not). If it looks like we’re going to get there early, we’ll slow the boat way down overnight to ensure a daylight landfall. We’re all looking forward to dawn tomorrow!
We cast off the lines at Waterside Marina in Norfolk, Virginia at 2PM on Saturday, October 31st. We were planning on leaving on November 1st, but with the weather window closing in we decided to leave as soon as John arrived on the boat. Since Quinn had already had a great time Trick or Treating a few days prior, we didn't feel bad leaving on Halloween.
The sail up the Elizabeth River and out of the Chesapeake was uneventful except for a beautiful full rainbow and a few up-close buoy inspections by our helmsman, John. Jen offered to break out the green paint to touch them up as we passed by.
Once through the Bay Bridge - Tunnel and into the Atlantic, the race was on. We needed to get across the Gulf Stream before an approaching cold front overtook us and changed the winds to an unfavorable and possibly hazardous direction. The far side of the Gulf Stream was about 150 miles from Norfolk, about 24 hours away. The front was expected to overtake us just as we finished crossing the south wall of the Stream.
Although we motor-sailed to make the best possible time, the front accelerated and overtook us before we reached the Gulf Stream. This was bad news as it caused the wind to clock around and blow directly opposite the flow of the current, creating very steep and confused seas. In addition, we found that the predicted ground swells from both the Northeast and Southeast further confused the seas.
The witches brew of opposed wind and current mixed with moderate swells from both the NE and SE generated the wildest sea state I've ever experienced. The sea state reminded me of a full washtub that someone had worked into a frenzy with a toilet plunger. The waves were very steep and seemed to come from all directions, with the wave crests more like pyramids than anything else. By 1PM on Sunday the wind had been blowing from the NE at 25 - 30 knots for some time and I estimated the waves to be 8 to 12 feet and nearly vertical at times. This made for a pretty uncomfortable ride for the 6 or so hours we took to cross the 40-mile wide Stream.
I'm happy to report our autopilot managed the confused seas better than I expected. The most disconcerting moments were as rode down the face of a large wave and got smacked in the aft quarter by a breaking wave from another direction. This would fishtail us around so that we were sliding sideways down the face of the wave we had been riding. Within a few seconds, Francois (our autopilot) got her under control and back on course. This took my breath away the first time it happened, but we soon got used to the motion as it happened two or three times every hour while we were in the Stream.
Once out of the current, the seas calmed down quite a bit and to our relief the pyramidal waves disappeared. The front that had overtaken us ahead of the stream stalled on the south side of the stream and in another five hours we had passed back through it. The wind abated to the mid-teens and the seas mellowed to 5-7 foot easy waves for a comparatively comfortable start to Day 2.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Hi all. We were looking forward to being able to post updates on a daily basis during our passage from Norfolk, VA to Tortola,BVI but it didn’t quite work out that way. The first two days were a bit of a train wreck crossing the Gulf Stream and it was too bouncy to work on a blog. Then, in the middle of the night on the second day, I dug out the laptop, fired it up and started putting together my first offshore blog message. To my dismay, just as I started work on it, my computer gave me Microsoft’s equivalent of the Finger… the blue Stop Error screen also known as the Blue Screen of Death. I was displeased. No matter, a quick reboot should set things right.
Not so much. On reboot, all I got was a blank screen and a flashing Caps Lock key. Sigh. So, I put it away for a calmer day to diagnose. (We were still in pretty rough weather and I wasn’t keen on gutting my laptop in those conditions. It took me a couple of sessions in milder weather to figure it out. It turns out one of my memory cards is bad. I took it out and I have a functional, if dreadfully slow, laptop again!
So instead of several daily offshore blogs, you’ll see only a few since we’re most of the way there now. The next entry will have a summary of our first 8 days at sea. Once in the Caribbean we’ll continue to post notes as interesting (to us, hopefully interesting to you too) things happen.
Be sure to check out the “Our Position” link on the web site for an updated map of our progress.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Courtesy of Mrs. / Shelby Merkel
Gregg called at 2 pm EST, said they are doing well, on course, making great time, currently at 29 degrees 26 min N, 66 degrees 5 min W, about 185 miles S/SE of Bermuda. He said the seas were 8-10 ft. last night but glassy today. Surely was good to hear from him :>)
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
They are through the Gulf Stream and about half way to port. Current position as of this post is 32 deg 53 min North by 68 deg 24 min West.
All are well. Gaich is hoping to be promoted from Bilge rat to cabin boy soon. Jen says don't count on it.