2017 Passage South

Many boats left as planned on November 2nd and made a planned stop in Bermuda for fuel due to low winds in the forecast. We opted to wait for wind along with several other boats in the Salty Dawg Rally. We departed at 1508 EST from Hampton on November 6th four days later than originally planned. As we neared Cape Henry we were greeted by dolphins. I take them as a good omen that the passage will go well.

And our passage to Antigua was relatively easy this year. We started with little wind but enough to motor sail down the coast towards Hatteras. We crossed the gulf stream without big seas or swell relatively speaking.

We had an odd influx of moths join us as we crossed the Gulf Stream this year. They appeared out of no where and left in the same manner. I counted at least 7 on board and they stayed for about 24 hours.

We also saw birds 200 miles off shore – the most unusual being 2 herons that looked like they wanted to land on our boat but we were in the process of putting up the Code Zero (big sail for light winds) so they circled once and realized people were on board and continued flying south. Amazing.

The cat was sick a few times but didn’t give up eating because of it. We were surprised how well she did for her first passage. As time went on she came to understand the routine and often joined whoever was at the helm at night.

One night while she was at the helm with me she perked up and got my attention to notice a flying fish had landed in the cockpit. She was curious so I put the flashlight on it for her. I don’t touch fish, so the thing had to suffer it out until P came on shift to throw it overboard. It entertained Sierra for a short while. She sniffed it once it stopped moving and just walked on by back to the inside of the boat.

We had a few squalls on our last few days of passage but none with winds of more than 25 knots so even these were easy to pass through as they were also fairly small in size. I appreciate a good squall for getting the salt off the boat.

A typical squall at sea (relatively mild <30 knot winds)

We had to manage fuel as we knew we’d have little or no wind on our final days of passage. We did this fairly easily as we carried an additional 49 gallons of fuel, giving us 207 gallons of fuel for the trip. We had more than enough as we motored the last 2 days of the trip against mild winds from the south.

Our trip took just under 11 days. We arrived in Jolly Harbour, Antigua at 9:30am on November 17th. We used the wind as much as possible to sail us until the wind went south. There was a point when we were easily headed to Puerto Rico at which we had to tack and turn on the motors again.

We didn’t have crew, just P and I doing our usual 3 hour sifts. My shifts 8-11 and 2-5, his 11-2 and 5-8.

Highlights were falling stars at night. The Leonid Meteor Shower was scheduled to peak on November 17th, the day of our arrival. The night before, Nov 16, they were clearly starting as I watched many falling stars on my last night shift before arrival.

One thought on “2017 Passage South”

  1. Happy New Year to you both. Glad your passage went well and safely to Jolly Harbour. Paul enjoys taking on the night shift I see but there must be time’s when your called upon Gwyn. I had a quiet New Year Eve, but went to watch our local rugby team Gloucester beat Sale in the premiership with nephew Tom. Your firework display looked amazing and it would have been good to be there for the night, bet there still wasn’t many seat’s at the bar! ( rugby day) take care both and enjoy the Ride!

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