BD Atlantic Crossing/ A Change of Course – Day 12

Day 12 of the voyage dawned bright and sunny … with no clouds to speak of and a steady, though slightly lighter wind than yesterday, which means we’re not making quite the progress that we have the past few days.

As you can see in the map below, there continue to be large storms in the North Atlantic that have pushed the high-pressure systems down, which in turn have pushed the trade winds south – and BoDream and I along with them. In other words, we’ve traveled a long distance out of our way to keep wind in our sails. If we hadn’t come this far south though, we’d be bobbing in no wind in the middle of the Atlantic and going nowhere at all.

Storm Fronts in the AtlanticConsidering the overall wind conditions we’ve encountered, and the forecasts we’re seeing, I’ve had to rethink our situation and make some revisions to the overall trip plan.

As originally intended, the route to Charleston, SC had us heading south to pick up the trade winds, at which point we would curve up and around to Charleston … a trip we calculated at near 3600 miles. But the winds have pushed us so far south, that short of turning on the engines, there is little to be done. On a sailing craft of BoDream’s size, you simply can’t carry enough fuel to motor the crossing, unless you go absolutely nuts with containers and such. I’m carrying a lot of fuel already, but only enough to run the engine for a couple of days.

So, what I’ve decided to do after crossing the Atlantic,¬†is to land on the Caribbean island of Antigua¬†… to stay for a short time, and then to make my way up to Charleston.

in the Middle of the Atlantic
I‚Äôm pretty much in the middle of the Atlantic now – about halfway between the Amazon River and the Bulge of Africa. The only way to head north though is to first head west towards the Caribbean. Given that Antigua is right along that route, and a popular stopping point, it only makes sense to dock for a few days of respite … and then¬†once the current storm systems level out,¬†to pick the next favorable weather pattern to head north. Attempting to go straight to Charleston is a long 3000 miles away, with even more iffy weather in-between. So it is … with some luck, I’ll be in Antigua before New Year’s.

This is typical protocol for long-distance sailing … looking for proper weather windows to make the best of long passages. I’ve spent plenty of time in big storms, up to 60-knot winds and such, and what that teaches you pretty quickly is that when it’s not necessary … it’s NOT necessary. My general approach is to save karma points for when I really need them, and not to spend them unwisely resisting the ways of nature.

Antigua is a small, Caribbean island, almost perfectly placed for the course we are on. It will give me a chance to get some good sleep, cold drinks and hot meals – three pretty attractive options at this point. It also allows me to take care of some necessary business before the end of the year.

The Course to AntiguaTo get there though, I have to keep heading southwest (the curley red line above) before gybing to the other board and sailing on to the Caribbean. “Gybing” is a maneuver where a boat¬†sailing in the same direction as the wind, turns its stern (its “rear-end”)¬†through the wind, such that the wind direction shifts from one side of the boat to the other.¬†So, I’ve got about 435 miles to go until that gybe point … another day or so, and then after that, about 1500 miles to Antigua.

So, now that our destination is remapped, there’s not much to be done, but to go back to living (and working) the Dream – which, from where I stand is not too difficult.

The moon is glowing in the western sky right now … only a quarter of it is showing, but with the clear skies, it is intensely bright and creates a proverbial “moon highway” – a winding and shimmering reflection across the water, right up to the boat. My course at the moment is directly in line with the moon. The large white spinnaker, covers over the moon which diffuses its brightness, lighting up the spinnaker from behind, giving it a ghostly glow, and each successive layer of sail and boat takes on its own different gradation of grey, black or white. The entire scene exists in black and white. The boat is white, the mast black, the mainsail dark grey … all illuminated from behind and layered into a porcelain-like sculpture against the waters sprinkled with shards of moonlight. It’s hard to stop staring at it actually, but there is work to be done – and a long way still to travel.

Right now, the winds are almost directly behind me, but there is a high-pressure ridge in front of me too. That’s going to force me to Gybe (change course) and go southwest around 245 degrees to get under it ¬†- or else I will end up once again with little or no wind.

My current distance to Antigua is 1620 miles … but remember, that’s the way the crow flies, not the Dave … Dave’s still 8 days away.

One good thing – the goal of this voyage as a qualifying trip of 2000 trans-oceanic miles will easily be met. In fact, I’ll likely have 4000 miles under my belt, by the time I reach Antigua.

In closing, I’d like to extend a salty welcome to all you new Facebook folks. Thank you for thinking enough of what we’re doing, to follow along.

I’ll be back again soon – before Christmas for sure, with another update.

Take care …

- Dave & Bodacious Dream

@ (+16.0300 -33.2800)
Wind Speed: 14 knots (1 knot = 1.15 miles)
Boat Speed: 8.5 knots
COG  (Course over Ground)  305 degrees
BRG  (Course or Bearing to Antigua)  290 degrees

Comments are closed.