As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself thinking about its beginning. Lying in bed on the morning of the first day of the new year, 1 January 2017, I luxuriated in being on a motionless bed. I thought about the last month. It was only a month ago, that I was waiting for the winds to die down so we could leave the harbor of Rabat, Morocco.
30 days and 3,000 miles later, we were in the New World. It was a much hard trip than I had hoped for. Watching the weather for months before our eventual departure, it was clear that the trade winds blew strong and steady from Africa all the way through the Caribbean to Central America.
I’d been hoping that I could stay in the band of lighter winds just north of the trades. It was not to be. Within hours of leaving Europe and the Canary Islands, we got hit by easterly winds for 20 to 30 knots. I wasn’t worried about Dauntless, she was made for following seas like this, but it did occur to me that these conditions meant there was no turning back.
That’s a sobering thought. In the Mid-Atlantic, with such strong winds behind us, we had to head west one way or another. There is no turning back. 200 miles west of the Canaries, no matter the issue, no fuel, no water, forgot to turn off the lights at home, no matter; one way or another you’re going west.
On a somewhat related note, here are a few Delta Airlines commericals that I find very motivating:
(The below was written last week, while underway, midway between St. Vincent in the Grenadines and Bonaire)
It’s about time!
Anyone who looks at a weather map can see that the passage from the eastern Caribbean to the Dutch Antilles is pretty much the same conditions as the Atlantic from the Caries to the Caribbean.
That means strong easterly trade winds and the seas and conditions that they produce. They are trade winds, because they are produced by the global heating and not by low pressure systems, as occurs north of the tropics.
So, we are merrily rolling along. This is 42-hour point of a 70-hour trip. Do I worry about jinxing it, by writing that we had no problems? Of course, I do. But every once in a while, I feel the need to get really crazy. Hoping that Poseidon is playing with Persephone and doesn’t have the inclination to mess with Dauntless this time.
Now, if this post never gets published because we never made it. I take all the above back. But let’s assume that you are reading this in the comfort of your reading place and I am happily ensconced in Bonaire paying too much for everything and squealing like a pig as I do so.
Since I finally just published the account of an average day crossing the Atlantic in the trades, you should all know the routine my now.
And the weather is the same.
Easterly winds, 20 knots gusting to the low 30’s, with the direction varying from northeast to southeast.
As long as it has an easterly component, Dauntless can deal with it as we make our way west.
While the winds are about the same, the wave heights are significantly less. Thank God, no strike that, Thank Poseidon.
I guess that is the effect of the Grenadines and Antilles reducing the fetch (the distance winds blows over uninterrupted sea). There seems to also be a tidal current of 0.5 to 1 knot pushing us along. That means that yesterday, we made 156 miles in the first 24-hour period, that’s an average of 6.5 knots.
Our earlier Atlantic Passage, our average was 137 nm at 5.9 knots.
Yesterday, I made grilled chicken for us, with a side of pasta. I also made a tomato sauce for pasta, which we will eat today. This is something I have not made for many, many years, at least a half dozen, years.
I made this for Micah, as the time for him to return to school and get on with his life is now rapidly approaching. It’s the least I can do for his hard work and the diligence he as shown these past 8 months on Dauntless.
The three big problems we had previously: the mysterious fuel leak, paravane shenanigans and hydraulic hose failure, have all been overcome. The paravane poles have been the most interesting in that I am always tweaking the system. Sometimes my tweaks work, sometimes they don’t. But I pride myself on finding simple, inexpensive solutions and this stabilizing system is finally starting to speak for itself.
The hydraulic steering and the helm and for the ComNav Autopilot has never been quieter. Never, at last since I’ve owned the boat. And as Micah pointed out, the owner’s manual did say that one had to be patient as air would work itself out of the system in a few weeks. I did help it by rigging a Rube Goldberg looking filling tube and funnel on the upper helm. This allows the system to burp itself without the usually oily mess.
After the ABCs, we are headed to Colon and the Panama Canal, after a short visit to Columbia, where my brother is for some unknown reason. He’s never seen Dauntless, so it’s the least I can do.
Near term, once through the canal, we’ll head up to Costa Rica, where Micah will leave us and Larry, my Alaskan friend of 44 years who I met on T-3, will join me and D.