Wednesday, 12 December 2018

End of Day 11 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members

1630hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 9 Dec 2018

Dear All,

This is the last report for our passage because we have now arrived safely in Antigua.
Passing Barbuda

Overnight it was windier again and BV bowled along at 7 knots or more.  It got even better during our last day and our sail down the east side of Barbuda and Antigua was just excellent.  Barbuda is low lying and was hammered in 2017 by the hurricanes and so we only saw a thin line of land sticking up.
Antigua in sight!

As we approach Antigua we did get hit
by a heavy rain squall with over
27 knots of wind across the deck
But Antigua is more mountainous and so we had the fun (and frustration!) of spotting our destination island much further out.  Our extra speed during the day was reflected in our midday to midday mileage of 179.6, an average of 7.5knots.
Approaching the entrance to English Harbour protected by Fort Berkeley Point





















The Antigua courtesy ensign about to be hoisted
It was a great way to end our passage and caught us up some time so we arrived at English Harbour well before sunset. Our pilot book suggested that English Harbour might not be lit very well for a night entrance but we found that there were excellent leading marks and most of the channel markers were lit. Not that we needed them, arriving at 1600hrs.
Fort BerkeleyPoint (L) and our anchorage on the right in Freeman Bay

We circled round a bit before finding a spot that we were happy to anchor in and finally dropped the hook at 1630hrs.  Our log said that we had sailed 1602.4 nautical miles getting here in 10 days and 7 hours and averaging 6.5knots over that distance.
Shirley Heights overlooking Freeman Bay

We had picked English Harbour as our port of entry because it is lovely.  Being a Sunday there was a barbeque party going on up at Shirley Heights which overlooks the Freeman Bay anchorage and so our arrival and first evening here was enhanced by the sound of steel drum band.  The perfect background music for enjoying our celebratory arrival rum cocktails.
Superyachts moored behind us on Nelson’s Dockyard – I think we lost the “who has the tallest mast” competition

We expect to spend a week here. There's a mountain of washing, cleaning and some maintenance chores.  Plus we need to sort out a data Sim card for the phone and post all of the blog entries that we have written.

It's good to be back in the Caribbean.

Love to all

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 9 Dec: N17 22 W61 37
Position at 1630hrs 9 Dec: N17 00 W61 46 English Harbour, Antigua
Midday to midday distance: 180 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight (well, 1630hrs actually) distance: 121 nautical miles
Total miles covered:  1602 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): zero nautical miles hurrah!!!
English Harbour on Antigua, End of Day 11 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Saturday, 8 December 2018

End of Day 10 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 8 Dec 2018

Dear All,
Dawn on the 8thDecember

Well, last night was a bit more of a bucking bronco ride.  We had some small rain squalls pass over us with associated increases in wind and then the wind just got stronger to be generally in the 18-20 knots band.  The sea and swell were also more dramatic as we got into the thick of the Trade Winds belt.
The detached No1 batten on the left and, on the right, as it should be

Early last night, at one of our watch handovers, Nicky spotted that the tack of the mainsail had come detached. We fixed that pretty quickly but whilst it had been loose one of the batten car attachments had obviously been stressed.  When Nicky reduced sail to 2 reefs in the main at 0205hrs she saw that the No1 batten had become detached from the car/mast.  Fortunately we needed 2 reefs in for the rest of the night and up until 1200hrs when we were both up and could reattach it.  For the rest of the day we sailed with 1 reef in the main and the batten seemed fine but we'll need to check the threads on the fitting carefully when we get to Antigua.

A short film showing progress

The bonus of the extra wind was that we sailed fast achieving 177.5 nautical miles through the water from midday to midday.  Sadly the angle that we are sailing across the current here means that we are losing a little of that in speed over the ground.  We think that the log is pretty accurately calibrated but it could also be that it is over-reading slightly.  However, if we keep going as we are we should just be able to make it to English Harbour before sunset tomorrow.  The seas have calmed down a bit at the moment too, which will also help in our making good speed.  Given that calmer seas make for easier living on board too, long may they last!

Lastly, we may not be able to use the SSB/HF radio in English Harbour tomorrow night; it's normal to get interference in port that stops long range transmissions.  So, just in case, we wanted to say a really big thank you now to Charlotte for once again doing an excellent job of relaying our nightly messages home for us. It's really appreciated.

Love to all

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 8 Dec: N19 59 W61 38
Position at midnight 8 Dec: N18 44 W61 36
Midday to midday distance: 177 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 178 nautical miles
Total miles covered:  1381 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 112 nautical miles  (101nm to our waypoint east of Antigua plus about 11nm to English Harbour)
End of Day 10 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Friday, 7 December 2018

End of Day 9 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 7 Dec 2018

Dear All,
Sailing again but with a big change – we are on port tack!

Well, it was a gentle start to the trade wind belt but for most of the day we have had a consistent 11-12 knot easterly wind.  By dusk that was up to 13-14 knots which accelerated BV to over 7 knots, so overall we have been making good progress south.  The weather forecast shows a diurnal variation; lighter winds overnight but with them building to peak of around 20 knots in the middle of the day. We haven't really seen that today but perhaps we will tomorrow when we are further into the belt.  A steady 15 knots would suit us just fine.  The Trade Winds have also brought lots of cumulus clouds so from now on we will need to keep an eye on those in case they turn into rain squalls. [Yes, some did and we were hit by several squalls at night when it has hard to see them coming.]
Our latest rigging trick: we set up the spinnaker jockey pole on the mast to hold the preventer off the genoa sheet to stop the 2 ropes chafing through

Crossing the Sargasso Sea

At our 4 am watch change Nicky found our first flying fish on deck; we suspect the first of many.  Plus, we are also seeing more Sargasso weed, sometimes in quite large clumps.  Generally it's passing us by but some has clogged the DuoGen so we're checking the battery charging rate every hour when we complete the log to see if we need to unclog the DuoGen's propeller.

We've decided that we'll sail down the east side of Antigua; we both feel that it's just too shallow and there are too many odd rocks for a night transit of the western side of the island to be comfortable. We are definitely aiming to do our check in at English Harbour, on the south side of the island, but may consider anchoring overnight off Falmouth, the next bay west, which is better lit for a night approach, rather than holding off out at sea for daylight.  Hopefully we'll sail fast enough over the next 36 hrs to arrive before sunset.

It's all quite exciting because Antigua is starting to feel quite close now.

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky 

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 7 Dec: N22 32 W61 38
Position at midnight 7 Dec: N21 17 W61 36
Midday to midday distance: 155 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 163 nautical miles
Total miles covered:  1303 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 264 nautical miles  (253nm to new waypoint east of Antigua plus about 11nm to English Harbour)
End of Day 9 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Thursday, 6 December 2018

End of Day 8 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 6 Dec 2018

Dear All,

As we predicted, it has been a slow day. The wind got up enough to sail again just before midnight and we made good progress until 0800hrs, albeit on a more easterly heading than we really wanted.  From 0800 the wind started to drop right off and at 1130hrs, when we were beginning to drift with just 3.5 knots of wind, Nicky switched the engine on. That also coincided with us being directly north of Antigua.

Same picture all afternoon!
Since then we have been motoring directly south towards the top of the trade winds belt.  We know that we will be able to start sailing again when we get there which should be before midnight today, so you will get an update on that later.  We've used the time to read, to catch up on some of the outstanding blog entries and to complete some admin and cleaning chores. There is a beautifully clear blue sky and a deep blue sea plus it's really warm now.  The sea is up at 27 degrees Celsius and the air temperature is the same.

From 1800hrs the wind started to show signs of getting up above 3.5 knots and at 2000hrs, just as I went off-watch, Nicky unrolled the genoa and reduced the engine revs so that we made progress southwards motor-sailing.  Hopefully, the wind will build further before too long (and go round more to the east or northeast from its current southeasterly heading) and then we will be able to sail again.

The big decisions now for us are where to head for in Antigua and which side of the island we should pass to get there. We had originally thought about making landfall at Jolly Harbour but we both think that English Harbour, on the south side of the island, is a nicer place, so we will go the extra few miles to check in there.  The decision on which side of the island we'll pass down will depend on our speed when we are established in the Trade Wind belt; ideally we want to arrive in daylight, particularly as the nights are very dark at present.  But, for the time being we are heading towards a waypoint on the east side of Antigua, we can always bear away to head down the west coast quite easily though, in many ways an approach down the east coasts of Barbuda and Antigua would be better (provided we stay clear of the lee shores) as the west sides of both islands are quite shallow.

Anyway, all that's a couple of days in the future.  For now we need to continue south in search of wind!

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky

PS  The wind is just starting to rise as I send this at midnight.  We should be sailing again within the hour.

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 6 Dec: N24 53 W61 41
Position at midnight 6 Dec: N23 43 W61 40
Midday to midday distance: 142 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 149 nautical miles
Total miles covered:  1141 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 407 nautical miles  (396nm to new waypoint east of Antigua plus about 11nm to English Harbour)
End of Day 8 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

End of Day 7 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 5 Dec 2018

Dear All,

Today was a whole lot quieter day than yesterday.  The wind has been light at 7-10 knots, the sea was reasonably flat with small waves and barely a metre of swell and so BV just sailed herself along at a gentle 6 knots during the daytime.  With the watermaker back on form we could shower again and the ship's rig for the day has been swimming costumes and flip flops.

The next 24 hours is potentially going to be slow because we are now in the band of light winds running just north of the easterly Trade Winds.  When we hit the top of the Trade Winds we will need to tack and it should then be a fast last four hundred miles to Antigua.  Whilst we have been going progressively more slowly late this afternoon, (now just 3.5 -4.5 knots) the counter current that we have had for most of the passage so far seems to have gone.  Initially we had 1-1.5 knots against us which was due to our angle through the Gulf Stream and since then we seem to have had about 0.5kt against us. Now we actually have about 0.5 knots with us which is nice given our slow speed.

I slept off watch for most of the afternoon whereas Nicky used the time much more profitably checking all of the fresh fruit and vegetables that we have and organising them so that we use the ripest first.  She washed all of the fruit and vegetables in a dilute Milton solution before we left Beaufort which helps a lot in keeping everything fresh but, as they say, "just one bad apple spoils the barrel", so it is worth doing regular checks.  She also used the last of the dorado to make a lovely Mediterranean style dish for dinner and even found time for some blog work too, as have I in my 2000-2359 watch, and so we should have some of the November backlog to post when we next hook up to the internet.

The sunset was very orange and I think I saw the elusive green flash just as the sun dipped below the horizon.

It's now just past sunset and the last of the wind has died away so we have switched on the 'iron topsail' to keep us moving overnight.  We have adjusted our turning point very slightly based upon the latest weather forecast and that we are motoring.  The new track is 160 degrees which will put us north of Antigua when we get to the top of the Trade Wind belt, which now looks to be at about 24 degrees north. Between now and then lets hope that the wind builds just enough to sail again or it will be a tedious 120 mile motor to get to the turning point.

And, a final PS just as we hit midnight: the wind has built again but from the south.  So, we are back under sail but tracking about 125 degrees Magnetic vs 160 degrees Magnetic under power.  It's not what we were expecting but we have made 25nm of southing under power and are now back to making more easting than southing.  Let's see what the next 24hrs bring.

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 5 Dec: N26 19 W63 29
Position at midnight 5 Dec: N25 25 W62 38
Midday to midday distance: 170 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 151 nautical miles
Total miles covered:  991 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 502 nautical miles
End of Day 7 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

End of Day 6 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.
Dawn on Tuesday 4 December

2359hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 4 Dec 2018

Dear All,

As we had expected the wind veered a little overnight so the sails could be eased whilst still making the same course. It also made for a much faster point of sail and so when Nicky handed over to me at 0400hrs BV was romping along at 8 knots.  That continued for the whole of the rest of the day achieving our fastest 23 hrs period (due to the time zone change yesterday) on this passage: 171 miles averaging 7.4 knots).  Beaten only by our midnight to midnight run of 185 nautical miles, an average speed of 7.7knots through the water.

It was a bit of a maintenance day today. We've been monitoring the fridge closely because I topped up with R134a coolant gas before we set off.  Having never done this before, and with all the documents I had consulted on the subject being rather vague as to the actual pressure of gas required in the compressor/holding plate system, I had rather overfilled it, so the monitoring included some adjustments to get it working at its best.  It seems pretty well set up now, with the holding plate frosted all over (before there was a section at the top that never froze) but we'll also check it when we are anchor and BV is upright.


The 2 cleaning cartridges
The other maintenance task was cleaning the watermaker membranes.  The cleaning cartridges were tucked away at the foot of the pilot berth so we had to move a fair amount of stuff to get to them; not easy on a moving platform.  We also had to get to the pump valves and the flushing tank which are hidden under the aft cabin bunk, so there was LOTS more stuff to move from there before we could start!
The saloon became the temporary storage area as we cleared out lockers to get access to the watermaker components





The filter housing where the cartridges were
 inserted for the big clean
The watermaker needed a fresh water flush followed by a flush with each of 2 cleaning cartridges in turn, followed by another long flush (using sea water this time) to remove the taste of the chemicals.  The first cartridge gave the membranes an organic matter clean to remove any algal build-up and other debris (let's not think about those nasties too closely!) and the second cartridge gave the membranes a chemical clean to clear any scale build-up.










Nicky adding fresh water to the tank under the aft cabin for
flushing the watermaker system
Following the cleaning we fitted new filters and let the watermaker whirr away for an hour, dumping the output to waste, before trying the water.  All in all it took 5½ hours and completely disrupted our watch routine but we now have water that passes the 'Nicky taste test', so we're busy filling the tanks right now!




Nicky’s 'shipping triple point'
Nicky writes:  Just after dinner the chartplotter showed what I call a 'shipping triple point' - 3 vessels (BV and 2 cargo ships) all aiming for the same tiny patch of ocean.  It's amazing. After days of only seeing other vessels at a great distance as AIS paints on the chartplotter, like Number 10 buses, now 2 ships appeared at once, both nearly close enough to run us down! In this instance, the 'shipping triple point' was even more spectacularly coincidental: the forecast track lines of the vessels all intersected at 60 degree angles, much like the playing piece 'pies' in a Trivial Pursuits game.  The 2 ships were both cargo vessels, about 200m long and about 30m wide (BV is 12.8m by 4m), each travelling at around 12knots.  When the closer of the 2, CS (Cargo Ship) Candy, was about 10nm away I tried calling it on the VHF radio, just to ask if they could see us on AIS and how far out they had seen our transmission.

I called on VHF channel 16 but got no reply.  Ch16 is the international hailing and emergency channel but there is no longer a legal requirement for crews to keep a listening watch.  So I tried DSC calling (using our radio to specifically page the ship's radio using the MMSI number associated with the ship's AIS trace) but still there was no response.  That's rather worrying as, legally, the ship's crew isrequired to keep a DSC watch so that they can be called by any other vessel that needs to speak to them. Charitably, I'd like to think that the on watch crew was dealing with something important.  Cynically, I wonder if they'd got the volume turned up too loud on the film they were watching.  Happily, CS Candywas always going to pass 6nm clear of us, so I didn't need to speak to them and there was no reason to keep on trying.  But it's disappointing, particularly as it's not the first time that we've had this happen and we pretty rarely call up big ships to check they have seen us if we are passing close by.

The second ship's track was a little more problematic.  Rather than pass well clear like CS CandyApollon Highwaywas likely to pass less than 2nm in front of BV, less if BV hit a good gust of wind or Georgina steered an erratic course.  Not filled with hope after my lack of success with CS Candy, I called Apollon Highwayon VHF Ch16 and was amazed to be answered immediately.  The watchkeeper said that he couldn't see BV’s lights (not surprising as we were nearly 13nm from him at the time, though I could see his lights) but that he could see us on AIS.  Excellent news.  I told him that I would manoeuvre to pass behind him if he kept his course and speed.  He was happy with this and so was I as we now had an agreement and both knew what to expect of the other.  In the end, the wind dropped off a little and the ship passed 2.5nm ahead of us, but it still looked remarkably close on an otherwise pitch-black night.

The amazingly blue, and now settled, sea – hence ‘Blue Water Cruising’
Georgina kept us on course whilst we spent much of the day down below

And so those have been the excitements of the day today.  Even though we have spent much of the time down below tending to the watermaker, it has been another fine sailing day.  The sea temp is over 26 degrees Celsius now and the air temperature is up to 27 degrees Celsius.  Life in flip-flops has recommenced!!!

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 4 Dec: N28 03 W65 41
Position at midnight 4 Dec: N27 08 W64 31
Midday to midday distance: 171 nautical miles (NB only 23 hours due to clock change)
Midnight to midnight distance: 185 nautical miles 
Total miles covered:  840 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 619 nautical miles
End of Day 6 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Monday, 3 December 2018

End of Day 5 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (AST, 4 hrs behind GMT) 3 Dec 2018

Dear All,

In a near continuation of the previous few days' sailing, we have spent most of the last 24hrs fractionally off close-hauled on starboard tack, sailing a little bit free of hard on the wind. We can't quite lay a direct course to Antigua but tomorrow the wind should veer enough for us to be able to do so should we wish. However, instead of doing that we will continue as we are, aiming for a spot about 400 miles north of the island. At that point we will be at the northern side of the easterly trade winds (though there may be an area of calm between us and them) and from that position we will turn south to put those strong winds on the beam.  That's a fast point of sail and will be much more comfortable in the long run than going direct now and then having to be hard on the wind in those strong winds for the last couple of hundred miles.  It also means that should the trades veer to the southeast (unlikely at this time of year but not unheard of), we will actually be able to lay a direct course all the way to Antigua, rather than having to tack back and forth to get there.  Of course, it does mean a longer distance to sail compared to going direct (assuming that the trade winds stay easterly) but we think that it gives us the best chance of getting to Antigua comfortably and not being pushed too far west by the trade winds and the west-going Caribbean current and, possibly, not being able to make our destination.
We tied the pressure cooker down onto the hob to make sure that it didn’t fall off and the oven door is tied shut with another piece of line.  You can also see Nicky’s shock cord addition between the cooker and the crash bar to damp down the motion of the cooker; it works very well

The sea has settled down today with longer gaps between waves which has made life much easier on board. The motion has been much more predictable so clambering around has been easier.  We therefore took the opportunity to cook. I made a pork stroganoff during my watch and Nicky conjured up a Spanish fish dish to use up a lot of the dorado we had caught.  These should keep us going for the next few days, quite possibly until we make landfall, assuming we can fit it all in the fridge!

We have also (big excitement of the day) crossed a time line.  At 67 degrees and 30 minutes west we moved into the Atlantic Standard Time zone (AST), one hour closer to GMT.  So, we each had 30 minutes less off watch and advanced all the clocks by an hour. Except that we forgot to do the In Reach, only realising the error after tonight's message had been sent.  Ho hum, one clock always gets forgotten but it's done now and at least it's a lot easier to adjust than the clock in our car!

The disappointment for the day was that the water from our watermaker didn't pass Nicky's taste test.  It's ever so slightly salty so we haven't topped up the tanks today.  In the worst case we are limited to the water that we have in the tanks plus the emergency water that we have in jerry cans, which is about twice what we need for the anticipated 5-6 days we have left on board.  That's without actively working to save water, and certainly there will be no need for rationing drinking water, but it will mean that showers are a no-go until we're a lot closer to landfall.  (Out of interest, additional water conservation measures we could take include: washing up in sea water and using a fresh water spray to rinse, steaming veg over sea water, using the lightly salted watermaker water for cooking, taking salt water showers using the deck wash, drinking beer!) However, tomorrow we will dig out some special chemical cartridges and give the watermaker membranes a really good clean.  It will take about 3 hours to do and will use up about 30 litres of our precious fresh water but we think it's worth using that water to try to get the watermaker back on form – after all showers are far preferable to sponge washes, though drinking more beer might not be so bad!
It’s all black out there before the moon rises [Ed: and the moon is rising later and getting smaller every day]. It’s quite a sensation rushing along but seeing absolutely nothing except a little bit of wake

And that's about all there is to report. The miles are ticking down slowly, the sea temperature is now up at 25 degrees Celsius and we are now wearing shorts and T-shirts during the day.

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 3 Dec: N29 44 W67 48
Position at midnight 3 Dec: N28 58 W66 50
Midday to midday distance: 143 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 147 nautical miles (NB only 23 hours due to clock change)
Total miles covered: 655 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 762 nautical miles
End of Day 5 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Sunday, 2 December 2018

End of Day 4 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (EST, 5hrs behind GMT)2 Dec 2018

Dear All,

Well the latest weather forecast has brought with it an unhelpful surprise.  Several in fact.  There's a new area of strong SSW much further offshore and the area we had hoped to make progress south in, now has southerly winds for much longer than the previous forecast.  If that plays out it's going to be hard work making progress south towards the Caribbean. Just as well that the fridge is full of food because we could end up being at sea for far longer than we had originally anticipated.  That said, we are looking at the meteorologists' computer's best long range guess and it could all change over the next few days.

A short film showing us heading southeast

So, to honour the forecast, we spent last night and today hard on the wind bashing into lumpy seas and trying to make progress southeast.  The wind's in the south, sometimes slightly west of south (better), sometimes slightly east of south (much worse) and it's around 13 to 20 knots true, which means that we have 17-24knots across the deck.  We've got 2 reefs in the main, a full staysail and not a lot of genoa unrolled. With that sail plan, and depending on how BV hits the waves, we're making 5-6 knots through the water and over the ground.  The current plan (as of 0800EST 2 Dec!) is to stay hard on the wind for the next few days. If the wind does as forecast and veers we'll follow it so that we get as far south as possible (it won't be very far south).  This should keep us south of the strongest winds and means that we will have minimum area of (relatively) light southerlies to cross before reaching the NE trades.  Well, it's a plan for today, let's see if it survives contact with today's actual weather and the next forecast!
There is the odd ship or two out here to keep clear of but otherwise we seem to have this bit of the Atlantic to ourselves

Bashing along to windward makes doing things difficult.  The gimbled cooker is swinging quite wildly and Nicky has stowed the trays that normally live in the oven in the aft cabin to reduce the risk of weight shifts in the cooker, which just exacerbates the swinging. Making lunch and dinner has been "entertaining" but has been achieved, though neither of us are very hungry at present.  Sleep is disturbed by BV crashing into some of the seas but give it a day or two and I guess we'll not notice the noise and will sleep like babies through it all.

The sea temperature is now over 24 degrees Celsius so the winter weight duvet has been packed away [Ed: aka dumped in the forepeak until everything stops moving around so madly and I can actually get into the aft cabin to stow it properly!] and we are back into T-shirts weather.   Nicky has done lots of reorganising to help stop things flying about; the waves are very close together, just 4 secs apart, and so it's been a bit of a bucking bronco ride at times.  She's also fitted some shock cord to the cooker to try to dampen down the movement. I've rewired the feed from our GPS so the radio now knows that it is 2 December 2018.  Sadly, the rest of the gear is either showing it's April 1999 or April 2099.  I'm guessing that it needs a complete switch off and reset; a task for when we get into port because we don't want to risk losing the primary navigation system [Ed: Sextants and sunsights are quite fun to do but I’d rather not rely on my ability to do them accurately if we have the choice!].

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 2 Dec: N31 03 W69 45
Position at midnight 2 Dec: N30 26 W68 43
Midday to midday distance: 145 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 150 nautical miles
Total miles covered: 508 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 881 nautical miles
End of Day 4 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua

Saturday, 1 December 2018

End of Day 3 - Beaufort NC towards Antigua

These Blog entries are edited versions of the messages we sent back as we completed the passage. They were sent by radio using a laptop that controls a modem and the HF/SSB radio, using the SailMail system. We sent the messages daily to Charlotte and she then forwarded them on to a list of family members.

2359hrs (EST, 5hrs behind GMT) 1 Dec 2018

Dear All,

Overnight last night (30 Nov to 1 Dec) the wind built up so that, in the early hours of the morning, we finally had the 15 knots or so that we had expected from the outset of the passage. BV bowled along nicely at 6.5-7.5 knots and sometimes a little more in the gusts.  The extra speed helped us in our plan to get far enough east to be on the edge of the next gale which will move up the east coast of the USA though, happily, the forecast we received last night has the strongest winds remaining further west than had been previously forecast.  We had previously been a little concerned that by dodging the strong winds we might end up in the virtually windless centre of a high pressure, which would have required us to motor to keep moving.  But it now looks as if that high pressure area will pass ahead of us and that our biggest problem is likely to be the wind backing from the west and southwest almost to the southeast.

Nearly 1900 local time and the picture shows our track being pushed
eastwards by the backing wind
At 0530hrs Nicky was on watch and judged that we had got far enough east to avoid the strongest winds forecast for Sunday and Monday.  So, she set BV on a course direct to Antigua, opting to make some distance south before the wind started to back which will put us on a close-hauled course, probably heading almost directly east by the time the weather pattern goes through. Indeed, the wind has already started to back; first thing this morning we were sailing on a broad reach but by 1100hrs the wind had gone round to the southwest so that we were close-hauled, albeit we were still (just) laying our line towards Antigua.  However, as the afternoon progressed our course became more easterly and, at midnight we were heading 120 deg M.

Good sailing conditions hard on the wind
In many respects this is no bad thing. By making our way east to, say about 062W somewhere south of Bermuda, we should be able to pick up the northeast trade winds (though they may be a bit easterly or southeasterly) and head south to Antigua from there.  If we continued on a direct course to Antigua we might well end up with brisk east or southeasterly winds as we got a bit further south, meaning that we would have to beat the final few hundred miles - not fun!  So, if you are watching our track it might seem a bit odd that we are spearing off to the east now but that will help us in a day or two's time.

Nicky dug out the sextant and took a noon day sight but then stopped short of completing the calculations because our fishing rod started to squeal into life.

I leapt out of the bunk and between us we slowed BV down and managed to reel in a metre-long dorado.  They have beautiful green and yellow colours when they are first landed but those fade quickly so we took some photos and then set about filleting it.  I’ve now been told not to do any more fishing for the time being because the fridge is now full!  That’s just as well, I suppose, because I need to get a new tip put on the rod as today’s catch has just broken the last one.

So that's about all for today.  We had an excellent fish and chips supper thanks to the dorado and we are now alternating on the night watch roster hoping that the wind will soon veer enough for us to sail towards our destination rather than away from it!

Love to all,

Reg and Nicky

Passage statistics:

Position at midday 1 Dec: N31 49 W72 20
Position at midnight 1 Dec: N31 28 W70 58
Midday to midday distance: 151 nautical miles
Midnight to midnight distance: 138 nautical miles
Total miles covered:  359 nautical miles
Approximate distance to go (direct line): 996 nautical miles
End of Day 3 Beaufort in North Carolina to Antigua