OFF TO Bermuda
Living on a 34’ boat has its challenges. During long hauls, we sail 24 hours a day. At all times someone is on watch. We have to monitor where we are going, the direction of the wind and how we set our sails, other boat traffic, how much fuel, electricity and water we have. Every nook and cranny is filled with provisions. We have a packed refrigerator, a two-burner stove with oven and a barbeque grill. A bimini protects us from the sun and provides a place for our solar panels. It can be fully enclosed with several clear plastic panels that protect us from the weather but they also remove us from the environment. With all this stuff, the challenge is not to get too complacent.
For coastal cruising we run 4 hour shifts (that is 4 hours on, 4 hours off) with teams of two. For open ocean crossings one individual is on watch for 3 hours and then gets 9 hours off. During the day as we cruise, we often chat about… well, everything. So far, there’s rarely a debate. At night, iPods come out, and the folks on watch work alone and without company. After dark, we do not leave the cockpit to do something on the deck without waking a crew member to watch. Then the person going forward, puts on his inflatable harness, clips it to the “jack line” (a flat strap that is secured to the outer deck of the boat from the forward cleats to the cockpit combing. Jack lines are designed to keep you in the boat and tethered even if a large wave washes over the boat.
|Sailing under light wind with carboys of extra water and fuel mounted on the starboard rail|
We set out to Bermuda carrying fuel for three days of motoring but knowing the trip will be at least five days long. We must sail and sail we did. We had perfect sailing conditions, flat calm, and nearly gale force winds of 28 knots. Nevertheless, we got into our 3 hours on, 9 hours off schedule – mine was from 9 to 12 (AM and PM).
|Increasing winds and bashing waves at sunrise over the Atlantic|
Meals are a big deal Ansley and Paul are great chefs so Curtis and I try to get out of their way and offer to clean up afterwards. Meals range from chili to mahi mahi sushi (after Paul caught a mahi mahi). Ansley seems able to whip up anything based on the first several things he found in the fridge.
|Paul caught mahi mahi for lunch|
|The resulting sushi and sashimi|
Crossing the Gulf Stream was a big deal. For one thing, there are no other milestones at sea. We had been cold crossing to the Gulf Stream and suddenly we were in cobalt blue tropical water! Before we left we accessed "GRIB" files that model the current and predicted currents and temperatures (see photo below). We knew where the Gulf Stream was expected to be and the blue dot on the chart showed us our current (GPS determined) location. We were in t-shirts and shorts from then on.
|Our track across the Gulf Stream (blue dot was our location when I took the photo)|