Position: 16,43.19N , 56,39.4W
Speed: 18 knots, Course: 330 deg.
Progress onboard the Black Pearl has been going well over the past 48 hours. We got out of out weak angles and into our fast sails. We have managed to put miles on almost everyone including ABN1 at times. The conditions are reaching with masthead gennaker at 130-135 True Wind Angle in 16-22 knots of wind. We do get the occasional squall with winds up to 30 knots and this usually comes with a 10 degree header for the first hour and then a 10 degree lift for the second hour. We usually just ride those out with the sail that we have up at the time.
The leaders have sailed a bit lower than us over the past twelve hours and that puts us as the most “right handed” boat on the track. We will sail a lower course over this next 6 hours to gain bearing on those behind and get them tucked away a bit more.
There is a small new low pressure system being born over Cuba and this will serve as “Wall” for the fleet, limiting how far west you can go. When on a northerly course in the northern hemisphere, you want to pass on the east side of a low to get the southerly and southeasterly winds rather than the head winds on the west side.
The sailing has been spectacular. Not “ripping” exciting like in the Southern Ocean, but just pleasant 27 C water and air temperature, broad reaching through life. I have been sailing mostly in shorts and a silk weight T-shirt, day and night. We have a full moon right now so at night that boat is lit up as if it were on the infield at Camden Yards during a night game.
Every once in a while you have to take a deep breath and look outside the race and realize how special this experience is. Sometimes it is the cold, the waves and the speed that is exceptional. These days it is the idyllic Caribbean Cruise. I think that is the benefit of being older, realizing that these races are more than races, they are exception life experiences. It would be extremely short sided not to acknowledge how lucky we are to get to race on a boat like this.
We have had a few issues with one sail and this has had Justin Ferris and Dirk De Ridder busy with the sewing machine for 5 hours the first time and 2.5 hours the second time. Both times we were fortunate to be able to go to another sail and not loose much, if anything, because the conditions also changed in our favor at that exact time. It is as if someone was trying to tell us to change sails. Maybe there is some Karma working as we cross our home turf the Caribbean. Today we are literally crossing the Caribbean. In a boat like this you sail across the eastern side of the entire West Indies(500 nautical miles) in 24 hours.
The Caribbean Cruise will end in about 24 hours and we will have two tricky situations meteorologically over the next three days. The first is a small low forming over Cuba that we have to make sure we leave to our West but get close enough to get some extra wind from. The second is a high pressure cell that will ridge in behind and above the low. We will have to find the fastest way through the middle of that as there is no way to go around it. So it will go very light for a time in the middle of that ridge. After that we should be left with westerly’s that will take us up the Gulf Stream and to Cape Hateras and the entrance of the Chesapeake. What happens in the Chesapeake is a little hard to know at this point but if past experience in any use, anything can happen there. I don’t think anyone will rest easily until they cross the finish line on this leg.
Pirates of the Caribbean