Passage to USA – days 1 & 2

Day 1: 4.00pm, Saturday 30th May 2015
Distance: 670nm, around 5.5 days
ETA: Friday 5th June (would love a sunrise entry!)

Nine days in Bermuda is a dream holiday for most people. For sailors, this length of time, although relaxing, can mask the real reason for the extended stay. The USA’s mid and eastern states were battered by storms recently, with strong winds adding to unsettled weather on the east coast of the U.S. In Bermuda, strong easterlies up to 25/30knots blew through the Town Cut into St George’s Harbour, creating large seas and a hazardous exit.The thought of bashing through a 3m swell over the outer reef had me recalling scenes out of Castaway with Tom Hanks! After two days trapped on Blue Heeler due to inclement weather, a dinghy ride to the tourist office for free WIFI had us scrutinizing the morning’s forecast. A large low was forming south of Cape Hatteras (south of Chesapeake Bay), and forecast to head north later in the week – our intended route. Hmm… By early afternoon the same day a more favourable forecast was downloaded and studied – this information was good enough for us to make the decision to leave Bermuda. If we left immediately we would have a full day ahead of the low. If the low moves faster or intensifies, or we delay a day we may be in for nasty weather, particularly if we happen to be in the fast flowing Gulf Stream. To wait any longer in Bermuda will not guarantee a better weather window for the foreseeable future and with hurricane season officially starting on Monday we both agreed the time was right to leave. We said “Hasta luego” to our friends on La Luna who would wait a little longer for their own weather window (which turned out to be the next morning) and we will join up again in New York.

Checking out of Bermuda was easy but you must leave immediately. Many yachts also left today – some going west for New York or Boston, while a good portion headed east to the Azores then onto Europe. The wind in Bermuda was still up to 20knots so our afternoon exit was very bouncy with a couple of waves breaking over the deck. We bashed into the first five miles but by early evening we’d settled on a direct course of 319degrees towards New York with 665nm to go.

It’s also a pleasure to know that our bright friend, the moon, will join us on this final leg of the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 2: 4.00pm Sunday 31st May 2015
DTG: 535nm
ETA: wee hours, Friday 5th June (NY -4UTC)

After the first 24 hours we were 135nm closer to New York. The Atlantic swell and winds of up to 20knots from behind had us ticking along well into the second night. A fresh weather grib file downloaded via the satphone reconfirmed the southerly low had weakened but a northerly wind would pick up on Wednesday. Up here we don’t have the ‘luxury’ of trade winds.

A wide current known as the Gulf Stream runs up the east coast of the U.S. flowing up to four knots in some areas before heading northeast. At one point around 38degrees latitude the current turns south then sharply north before squiggling it’s way across the Atlantic. We decided to head slightly off our direct rhumb line and seek out this northern flow which should give us a good boost of around 1-3knots. Our heading of 335degrees is now towards Boston for the next couple of hundred miles. We should reach the positive flow by Monday afternoon and exit the stream the next day. Once out of the Gulf Stream we can sail west with a northerly wind helping us towards New York. It’ll be a bummer if the information we’ve based this decision on is inaccurate, but out here that’s the way the dice rolls!

Right now I’m sitting in my undies (the weather is a surprisingly warm 28degrees) and about to prepare some dough for tonight’s pizza. New York is 450nm away.

About blueheelerhr39

Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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