Underway - December 6, 2001
Here in the middle of the Atlantic the sky is black except for the stars that abound, the wind is steady and light from the South, and we cruise along on a beam reach at about 5 knots over the swells to which we are slowly becoming accustomed.
The first 72 hours out on any off shore passage are the hardest as the body adjusts to the strange new environment. At first every task seems to take a huge amount of effort, but as time goes on things fall into a routine. We have gotten quite lucky with the weather so far, as SW winds have allowed us to make good easting in our first few days out.
But, let me backtrack. We arrived in Beaufort the Wednesday before last. We expected to stay a few days doing some last minute chores before we headed off shore. As it turned out we were there a little longer, but that turned out to be a very good thing.
Sam has some family friends just outside of Moorhead City, which is in turn around the corner from Beaufort. Mark and Jeanne Brennensholtz couldn't have been better people to have as a contact. They were amazingly kind to us, not only lending us a car to use for over 3 days, but also letting us stay in the rental beach property that they own right next to their own house. This allowed us a couple days of needed relaxation before we headed off shore, and also gave Miranda a place to make some pre-prepared meals for our first few days out. Sam's parents came down from Tennessee to see us all off as well, and we had a good old time eating shrimp and watching the college football team the Vols win!
Our departure day was determined not only by the fact that we had some work to do on the boat. In fact the main factor in our decision of when to leave was weather. We wanted a weather window, as it is called, to get across the Gulf Stream, which can be quite nasty in northerly winds. Because the Gulf Stream is basically a river within the sea moving from south to north, a northerly wind kicks up a chop that can be no fun to cross, especially while the crew is still getting its sea legs.
We have a wonderful resource for weather and his name is Herb. Herb is a man who lives in Canada and provides an amazing service for any boats going off shore in the Atlantic. Any boat that has a Single Sideband radio can check in with him, and everyday he will be on frequency at 0800 Zulu to give you a full weather report. He tells you what the wind, water and sky in your region of the ocean is doing, what it will do in a few hours and what he thinks it will be doing in a couple days. His forecasting is amazingly accurate, and is very helpful in making decision as to which direction to sail. Getting current weather updates and forecast makes all the difference in the world when it comes to an ocean crossing. All of us aboard Baggywrinkle owe much of our safety and comfort to Herb.
Herb suggested that we would have a weather window on Wednesday, and so we worked toward that goal. He turned out to be right, and the window actually was bigger than he suspected. So Wednesday morning we filled up with fuel and water, bought some block ice and said good-bye to the brennensholtz who were wonderful enough to come down to the dock to see us off. The feelings of leaving shore were mixed. Excitement was primary, but it was tinged with nervousness and trepidation as the three of us set out on what was and still is a great adventure.
The first 24 hours out we motored, as the wind was light and we wanted to take advantage of the weather window to get across the Gulf Stream. The winds started to pick up just as we could no longer stand the engine so we shut it down, and hoisted more sail. Since then we have been on a Beam Reach SE doing anywhere from 5 to 7 knots as the wind speed varies from 10 to 20 knots. It is truly beautiful out here. During the day we have the deep dark blue of the Ocean and the bright sun on the white sails, during the night we have the multitude of stars and the moonshine on the ocean waves, and day and night the constant accompaniment of water swishing by the boat.
As she slices
southward through the water Baggywrinkle is performing admirably, as is
her crew. So far we are well fed, dry and warm, and well on our way to
the Caribbean. Who could ask for more.