Planning Ahead

Date: March 13, 2017, noon Position: 23 46.42 N, 72 40.74 W

All in all it was a very pleasant day today, besides the motoring. Nep has established himself as the ship’s cook this week, serving the captain breakfast in bed each morning. He’s perfected his salad recipe which he is pretty proud of, so we enjoyed today’s lunch of crisp cold lettuce as we watched the blue waves roll by.

Finally this evening the breeze kicked up a notch and we were able to shut down the engine. All day today I considered our options for the coming cold front and associated wind shifts forecast in the coming days. I’ve worked us to the north a bit, staying well east of the Bahamas. I want to set us up with plenty of sea room so that we have 360 degrees of hazard-free navigation options. I’m beginning to favor heaving-to for 18-24 hours once the head-winds start. I like the idea of sitting down below watching movies on the laptop rather than blasting close-hauled through the foam… With the monitor vane, no problemo–but given our circumstances I’d hate to see our new tiller pilot take a dump–I’m really beginning to like it as a calm-weather helmsman. Either way, we’ll see what happens. Sailing is all about perceiving the dangers before they become a threat. The Bahamas and their shallow waters are a definite threat! Give us the open sea, please. Our entrance through the islands is past “Hole-in-the-wall” and the “Devil’s Backbone”. Names like that are usually for reasons best kept wondering about. We’ll take our pleasure cruise through the islands once the weather and winds have eased to the NE.

Sailing with an electric autopilot is a bit like bicycling with low air in the tires. The sails are never presented quite correctly to the wind, and we slow down & lose some momentum as the boat hunts through the waves. Unless the electric pilot can interface with the wind-angle indicator, it’s an inferior and easily dangerous set-up if not watched constantly. Even with an interface, the masthead indicator signal relayed to a delayed mechanized arm cannot be as accurate or instant as the direct action of wind hitting the air-vane. I’m baffled that so many cruisers use hydraulic/electric autopilots only.

The last 500 miles of the voyage are always the longest, especially with motoring and fronts and winds shifts and currents on the horizon… The things I dream about now are blasting the boat down with a freshwater hose, reducing my weather worries to the landsman’s “will it be cloudy or sunny today?” and, most of all, Kelsey and Taz!! This is also the time of the voyage to step it up and be extra-professional. We’ve made it this far, and it’s time to give the last few days our all.

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