My attempt to update the blog during the passage via single sideband radio failed, so I am updating you from beautiful Newport, RI instead. We arrived at 1am Saturday morning and have been desalting the boat, catching up on our sleep, and enjoying this scenic yachty town. Sorry about the lack of photos, but in the meantime, here is a photo we were surprised to find on marinetraffic.com, which must have been taken as we left St. Martin in May.
|Rockhopper in passage mode|
Our passage from Bermuda was not exactly as expected. We had a little bit of everything as far as wind conditions on the trip. We had a couple of periods of great sailing, a couple of periods of such light conditions we needed to motor, and a big chunk in the middle where we had too much wind and sea for comfort. It was a fast trip, which is good because this is not a good time to be lollygagging in the North Atlantic. The weather this spring has been unpredictable. I mean that in the truest sense, two of our weather sources have commented on their struggles to predict what these weather systems will do. Luckily, we were able to rely on getting daily weather updates via SSB, and the forecasts are fairly accurate within 24 hours.
We started off the trip motor-sailing in light winds for the first half day, and then had a lovely reach for the next day. The winds were getting stronger and we started reefing the main and jib. By the time we entered one of the weather systems we were expecting to encounter, we were sailing with a double-reefed main and our tiny staysail. This system was correctly predicted with 25-30 knot sustained winds 12-15’ seas, but still more uncomfortable than I had expected. We have certainly sailed in higher winds before, and I expect we’ve been in similar seas, but this felt like a true gale to me, and neither of us enjoyed it in the least. [Now that we’ve spoken to some other boats that were in the same conditions, we probably had a few hours with gusts in the 40-45 knot range that our instruments were not picking up.] We were taking so many waves, that we closed up our main hatch completely to keep the interior dry, and performed our watches electronically, barely bothering to stick our heads in the cockpit. The rain, large waves, and erratic movement kept us from being able to see anything. Don’t worry, we can monitor our radar, AIS, and all instruments at our interior navigation station. Of course, we had our typical rough weather reactions: Reinhart was seasick, and I had insomnia. We experienced uncomfortable conditions for a little over 24 hours with 6 especially bad hours, but it felt like days. We were lucky that the wind conditions were not on our nose, and that they stayed consistent during this time so we did not need to adjust the sails. We were also lucky that we never had an opposing current, so the sea itself was speeding us along through the trough, and we made fantastic time.
Once we were through the trough, lots of sail adjustment was necessary as we encountered fairer conditions and passed through the Gulf Stream. We were pleased that the stream was not a monster this time around, though at 5 knots it still pushed us farther east than we had hoped. Things were settling down: Rockhopper had three full sails up, Reinhart could eat a cracker, and Mindy could take a 15-minute nap. Winds slowly diminished north of the Gulf Stream and soon we were motor-sailing in light winds and glassy seas. As we neared the coast, winds started picking up and we had a whispery broad reach for the last 12 hours of the trip. I absolutely love it when it feels like we are sailing 3 knots, and I look up to see that we are flying along at 7 knots! It made us forget our previous atrocious weather and had the trip ending on a high note.
The last 24 hours also brought a few welcome rain showers rinsing off the salt encrusted decks and sails. We also noticed a temperature drop, and we are giddy about experiencing the sunny and cool northeast summer. Once we got within 100 miles, I started noticing the floating mylar balloons, something I haven’t seen since we were sailing off the US east coast last summer. Honestly, folks, we have to stop buying these things, or at least stop releasing them into the sky, because they end up in the ocean. In the end, the 656 nm passage was 108 hours (45 of those motoring, 41%), with a 6.1 knot average.
We’ll only have a few days to enjoy Newport’s glorious weather before we need to hurry ourselves up to Gloucester, MA. I look at the chart and see we’ll be passing up places we love like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and see that we are still not getting to places in NY and CT that we always wanted to visit. We only have 3 months to visit the northeast, and we have way too much to see and do. We are almost regretting our decision to take a road trip to NC and CO and lose a few weeks of our northeast cruising time; however, that is far overpowered by our excitement to see friends and family and several new additions. It is unfortunate that we’ll have to choose between places rather than visiting them all - the plight of the cruiser.
We’ll be in NC July 2-5, and in DEN July 10-16.
32°22.818N 064°40.369W; Convict Bay, St. George’s, Bermuda 15May – 11Jun
32°22.831N 064°40.575W; St. George’s Wharf, Bermuda, 12-19Jun16
41°28.775N 071°19.673W; Newport, RI Anchorage; 25Jun16…