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Mira - SV MIRA - Blog 1 - Storms, Waves, Wind then Peace on the Water

SV MIRA - Blog 1 - Storms, Waves, Wind then Peace on the Water

Departure Day, Sunday November 4, promised to be a beautiful, cold and windy day. The captain and crew on Mira stumbled around in the darkness, donning warm, winter gear and grabbing hot coffee to start their journey. Lines were tossed and fenders stored by 6 am, and we were off! Since MIRA was the only boat headed for Antigua, we chose not to join the festive start line at the mouth of the Chesapeake
Bay later that morning. As soon as we took the turn out of the Elizabeth River heading south, the winds freshened to 20 knots slightly forward of our beam, and Mira was off!
Most of Sunday, as we sailed south along the coast of Virginia, we experienced these good sailing conditions, though we were fighting a 3.5 knot current in warm water. The afternoon waned, and the wind strengthened and began to clock southeast. The confused waves were building to 1.5 meters. Darkness fell and we approached Cape Hatteras, with the head sail and main sail both triple reefed. Winds were exceeding 30 knots and the sloppy waves were up to 2 meters. MIRA had gone from a lean mean sailing machine to a washing machine. Of course, the increased chaos did not deter our dinner plans - baked potato bar complete with all of the trimmings! It was a perfect meal for tummies that were still not quite settled.
The evening brought increasingly worrisome conditions. We rounded Cape Hatteras, and MIRA was heading S-SE aiming for her Gulf Stream crossing point. Unfortunately, reaching that point meant navigating heavier and heavier weather. Strong winds peaking at over 40 knots in our face, waves consistently reaching 2.5 meters, and the current against us as high as 5.3 knots. The intrepid crew doused the head sail, centered a scrap of the main and turned on both motors - trying desperately to stabilize the boat through the tempest. Most importantly, all crew were decked out in their high tech life jackets, weather gear and tethers. More than one crew (OK, really only one crew member) was shaking in her foul weather boots! The night raged on, but MIRA and her crew endured.
Monday morning, November 5, dawned dark and cloudy with continued strong winds and steep, pitching waves like black pyramids. MIRA and her crew were seriously being slapped around by Mother Nature. The Carib 1500 Net confirmed the Gulf Stream entry point a little south and west of our current location. By early afternoon, MIRA headed in. We were no longer nervous about crossing the Stream - anything had to be better than what we were experiencing.
Relief was almost immediate. Winds were on our beam at 25 knots but, the steep waves were from the same direction, making the motion of the boat a little smoother. Annoyingly, the current was still up to 6 knots from the south. The weather, wind and waves subsided throughout the day, and finally, as night approached, the weather stabilized. Winds were from the SE consistently under 20 knots with confused waves and strong adverse currents. AND, the the crew was wearing tropical clothes! The shift from the cold Atlantic seas to warm gulf water was almost instantaneous. We could envision sipping Antiguan rum punches already.
Tuesday morning, November 6, dawned warm and grey. The cumulus clouds on the horizon gave us clues to improving weather. We were cautiously optimistic, to say the least. The morning Carib 1500 Net revealed that most of the 20 boats were in or east of the Gulf Stream. Sadly, three boats from the Rally diverted with sick crew, but for the most part - the Rally boats prevailed. Tuesday continued with stable weather and ideal sailing conditions - winds 15-20 knots off our beam, 1.5 waves, but still with a persistent 3.5 knot current on the nose. MIRA was averaging 6.5-7 knots most of the day - including that nasty current. We saw scraps of sunshine and tiny Atlantic dolphins leaped and twirled around us this afternoon, calming the anxiety and fueling the excitement of a good passage still to come!
As this blog post concludes on Tuesday November 6 at 3 pm - MIRA has sailed 56 hours and 360 nautical miles with an average speed of 6.3 knots and a max speed of 12.1 knots. Only 1000 nms left to go to Antigua!

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