Near Key West, Thursday, May
here we are, motor sailing along at 9 knots on a course of 350M, recently
emerged from the Old Bahama Channel. The
current ran a knot or more against us all night and is against us now, as we
run up the east side of Cay Sal Bank.
This crewman thinks we will begin to find less current against us as we
head for the main body of the Gulf Stream, where we will get a on board for a
3+knot boost north. First time sailing
in this area, but third crossing of the GS, the world’s largest river. It is a beautiful day, with a sunny sky, a
few small, scattered clouds and fairly calm seas, swells 2 to 3 feet.
favorable conditions forecast, we had left M dock at Nanny Cay at 0800
Saturday, as planned and were soon leaving the BVI’s and looking back with
regret at leaving and appreciation of the beauty of the mountains, scattered
islands and seaways, as well as smiles at what fun meeting and chatting with
the ARC staff, sailors and local people had been. I do hope that Isabella’s photo of me
struggling to hold and not spill 4 rum punches doesn’t get back to my kids. Such a photo would imply that I actually
drank these drinks and we can’t have that.
The rookie crewmen on our boat chose the
first half of the evening for night watch as we turned west and began to slid
past the north side of the American Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. This group of ARC boats started with 5 boats,
including Miles and Peter on Karina, which had stopped in St. Thomas to pick up
a crew member. So Nordik Light was ahead
of the pack for the first couple of days.
Not that anyone cares about these things, as all involved are laid-back
We sailed past Puerto Rico, then Dominican
Republic and Haiti, heading for the entrance to Old Bahama Channel near Diamond
Point. As the days and nights passed
this writer got more comfortable with the unfamiliar rhythms of the week’s
passage, staying awake for night watch, sleeping in the late ends of the night
and grabbing naps during the days. 2 am
got more comfortable; staying alert and awake got easier. After quite a lot of starboard stern
quartering waves and a rolling boat the first nights, we got calmer swells,
winds from the southeast, sometimes backing into the northeast, but by and
large the ride got more comfortable as we went on. Another real blessing was the moon
approaching full by the night of the 10th. So we had a waxing, gibbous moon lighting up
the world around us. By the 10th,
last night, riding along in the early night we kept feeling that a car with its
bright headlights was following us, so we had some fun making finger animals
shadows on the instrument panels….Hey, look at this dog…. A rabbit…..Is that a pterodactyl?
With rolling seas and winds off or behind the beam,
Nordik Light used the suggestion and demonstration of rigging a whisker pole,
from one of the ARC briefings during the week of preparation. This writer had
used this gear before, more than 10 years ago on his first boat, so Andy’s
refresher helped with better-organized deployment, as the procedures and use of
lines were fresh in mind. Again, thanks
to Andy and to ARC for improving the level of sailing competence in this area. Holding out our jib steadied and quieted the
sail, reducing the wear on the sail and making for a quieter night ride for the
slumbering crew off watch.
forecasting is very important to boaters, with weather being a major
determinant of the pleasure as well as the safety of the voyager. In this regard, we have experienced very good
weather, favorable winds and relatively comfortable seas. We sailed into several lovely sunsets and
only two times did any dodging of small, building cumulous clouds with
rain. None of these built into the
towering Cumulo-Nimbus with downdrafts, hail and lightning. We were successful in finding a gap in a line
of rain clouds that had built up over the southern end of the Bahama Banks. We got through on the right side of the rain
cloud in the photo.
5:00, Captain Art was checking on switching the water tanks and saw some fluid
and unusual vibration of the main engine belt.
The engine was slowed down, run to cool it and, then, shut down. The alternator had broken one of its
attachment bolts and a bracket, the belt and the alternator itself were
vibrating way too much, so some wire ties and safety wire were used to secure
it in place and to keep the belt relatively tight, which was necessary to keep
the engine coolant pump turning. Then we
went on, keeping a sharp eye on the water temperature gauge and an attentive
ear for any unusual sounds, like if the alternator should fall off and make a
loud thump. Nordik Light’s captain and
crew decided to take the remaining 150 miles nice and easy and to head further
west around the northeastern tip of Cay Sal Bank to try to get the speed boost
from the Gulf Stream sooner. The repairs
held together and we arrived at Bahia Mar Marina at 1600, secured our dock
lines and enjoyed a cold Caribe after 7 days of being a dry boat!
P5061258 P5071269 P5091282 P5121292