Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 15, 2010 - Enroute to Newport

As we approached the Gulf Stream the wind filled in from behind. We spent Sunday night flying along downwind across flat water. We were making over 9 knots for hours with the assistance of a knot of current, and occasionally the speedo slipped into double digits. It was brilliant.

By morning the wind had been blowing long enough to build up the seas. As we approached the shelf waters of the Gulf Stream contrary currents crashed into the building seas to produce a confused sea state. We were still hauling the mail, but it was through a sea that had more similarities to a washing machine than a pond. It was pretty rough, but nothing we hadn't seen before.

Mid-afternoon on Monday the current switched around again. For a while the water was moving the same direction as the wind and the seas smoothed out. We had a favorable boost of a knot and the wind had begun to clock around to the west as we checked our Gulf Stream entrance waypoints with Herb Hildenberg via the SSB. By the time we hung up the mic, we had 2 knots with us and were clearly in the Stream.

Overnight the wind continued to clock forward to the Northwest. Beating into 20 knots of wind with an additional boost of 2.5 knots of boat speed from the north-setting current cranked up our apparent wind (the real feel) to the high twenties. Sten found it exciting, at least until we started slamming. I just slipped into my siege mentality - 'this too shall pass' - and hid behind the dodger.

Shortly after midnight we had gone far enough north to tack to the west. The current was still pushing us north so our angle after the tack was pretty good. We weren't laying Newport, but Atlantic City was just 250 miles away.

Around 4am Tuesday morning we exited the Stream after 10 hours of rough and wild conditions. Shortly thereafter the wind began to back and ease as we sailed into a high pressure system. We were both exhausted from the rough night so we didn't mind at all when the wind died and we needed to turn on the engine, destination Newport.

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