Crossing the Gulf Stream

 Rocking and Rolling

 Last day of January 2014 – Dollar Harbour to Florida

Dollar harbour anchorage turned out to one of the best of my whole Bahamas Adventure.  Due to the strong current the boat was rock steady all night, though it did do a 180° in the middle of the night.

Wind is out of the SSE, 15-22 knots.  On weather, I pretty much only look at the NWS products and even at that, I use them a guide, but…  For example, the product I’ve been using here is:

AMZ001, with the subset AMZ117 BAHAMAS INCLUDING CAY SAL BANK, while relatively general, for today, E to SE winds 15 to 20 kts, seas 6 – 8 ft. Atlc exposures and 3-5 ft. elsewhere.

While relatively general, I like this product because it does not imply significance, in either specific time or location, that cannot be reasonably forecast,

The winds are actually SSE, so I probably won’t be able to maintain my desired course of 281° (with the GS pushing me north, the resultant COG would be 301°), which would land me at Miami.

15 minutes later I’m pounding into 4-6 ft. waves from the SSE.  I want to get well clear of the wedge rocks before I try to go W or NW.

Turning thru 270° Dauntless is rolling 25° on each side of vertical.  Not tenable.  I settle on WNW, 300° heading. This gives me a following sea 30 to 40° off my stern, tolerable.  I estimate (using my handy Clinometer app) that most of the rolls are on either side of 10 °, but 1/3 of the rolls are 15 to 18° and 1/9 of the rolls are 25-28°. I take a Cinnizine (Stugeron), thanks Dutch friends for bringing it.

Dauntless' Tracks Outbound and Return

Dauntless’ Tracks Outbound and Return

I also am reassured that should the conditions get worse for any reason, I do have a number of alternatives: I could head further north, as the Krogen does extremely well in a following sea or I could abort and head NNE to Bimini.

Four hours later, I am about in the middle of the Gulf Stream, I had increased speed to 2000 rpms, the most I have pushed my Lehman for any length of time, but with a speed over ground of about 9.2 knots, it does make the ride better.  The seas have been 6 to 8 feet; I hand steered a while and did discover that my hand steering I could almost keep a course as low as 280, BUT it’s a lot of work, so I have adjusted the autopilot a few times and discovered that I can set it to react well to those largest waves. Once I understood that the ComNav Autopilot manual is really poorly written, in that they use poor analogies.  Instead of explaining exactly what a certain adjustment actually does, they simplify too much.  Many companies do this, but they don’t understand their customers.  Meaning, those customers that will take the time to read their 3 inch think operating manual could use the exact description, instead they dumb it down, but dumb people won’t even read it in the first place.

So in trying to figure out what they really mean, for example Counter Rudder, seems to be an exponential function and in this case, by increasing it to almost max, Dauntless is able to react to large waves that want to pull the bow up (broach) faster than I can do it myself, and in fact, is more consistent.  So, the last few hours are actually easier, then also, as I got to the west of the main GS, the waves have diminished a bit to 4 to 6 ft.

By 16:00 I am entering the Port Everglades ship channel.  My crossing is done and our Bahamas adventure is over.

All’s Well that Ends Well.

As I get caught up with my postings, you will notice a mixture of tense.  Please bear with me as some things are written just as they happen, some after the fact, some before the fact and some not at all.

My current plan is to also post some pictures directly with the blog, but also to make a link for all the pictures for a given trip.  I’m also working on the duplication issue, so bear with me.

I’ve also uploaded some short videos of this crossing at http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public/

Richard on Dauntless currently in Coconut Grove

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