Feb 28-Mar 1, Cape George Cadillac

Date: March 1, 2017, noon Position: 16 49.63 N, 60 20.32 W

For the past 48 hours Privateer has battled squall after squall after squall after squall after squall. During the day they’re easy to see, but they tend to sneak up on us during the moonless nights. First, we’ll see an absence of stars, then feel the temperature drop a bit. The boat starts pulling to starboard as the main fills, and wind speeds accelerate. She’s trimmed well to handle the steady 25 knots of NE winds we’re experiencing on a 120 degree wind angle, but as soon as the line cloud passes overhead we need to drive down on a 150 degree wind angle to keep the boat from rounding up and being broad-sided by the breakers. Not fun!

The dark squally nights are all part of the package, I suppose. Another white hair in the beard. Last night we got clobbered by a particularly nasty rogue breaker that exploded over top of the boat. The dodger windows momentarily looked like a jacuzzi with full jets running! Seawater managed to squeeze its way into every crack in the boat, primarily soaking our beds. My sheets are so salty now that climbing into bed I feel like a mummy dressing itself in wet gauze. Daydreams of doing laundry and airing out the cushions on Tortola…

The winds and seas began to pipe up quite a bit more, with 40 knots in the worst of the squalls. At daybreak on Feb 28, I made the decision to convert down to storm sails, and what a good idea that was! Privateer is now under a “boomerang” sail plan. The mainsail and boom are safely lashed in the boom gallows, and the trysail flies smartly on her dedicated track. Storm jib is flying on the inner forestay, and we still have a scrap of yankee poled out to windward to keep speeds up & take the punch out of the following seas. We look more like a hang glider than a sailboat now.

With 30-40 knots of wind and storm sails flying, Privateer drives like a Cadillac! Smooth, heavy, and powerful. She clips along at a safe 5-6 knots and slices through the waves like a hot knife. Best of all, once the storm sails were set, my stress levels dropped to zero and elation kicked in. This is what Privateer was built for!!

In between periods of squalls I get what sleep I can and let Nep take over. I need to conserve energy in order to be fully alert for the duration of the spells. We are sailing almost due west now, on our approach to the Caribbean just south of Antigua. Wind angles are fantastic, with all winds from behind. We are riding through the squalls in safety and control, though basic functions like cooking & showering etc have ceased for the time being.

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