The Final Front(ier)

Date: March 14, 2017, noon Position: 25 6.20 N, 74 34.50 W

We’ve weathered the cold front today. Throughout this last night, the winds slowly intensified and shifted around from the SE to the S, then SW and W into the afternoon. It was great sailing and the tiller pilot got a workout to the max, in 24-knot beam reaching. I really missed the wind vane today! As we came within 300 miles of destination my concerns about fuel usage eased. We’ve passed a point now where we could motor the whole rest of the way and still have reserve fuel. But it looks like the winds will remain with us, not always in our favor, and we should be able to sail most of the remainder of the passage.

Throughout the afternoon the seas stacked up as the winds clocked around ahead of the beam. We dogged down all the hatches and took a solid spray bath today. In the late afternoon we passed through a band of squalls and under a really dramatic line cloud. Once past the cloud the winds took a sharp turn to the NW (the direction we need to go). I disengaged the tiller pilot, giving it a kiss of gratitude, and trimmed the sails for close-haul. Privateer sails herself very well without any helm assistance when she is close-hauled with full Yankee, Storm Staysail, and double-reef Main all sheeted flat. Right now we’re on a course due north, on a 45 degree angle to the wind.

The plan is to reach a northern way-point of about 26 degrees, which we should reach around midnight, and then heave-to for the duration of the W and NW winds. We’ll probably remain locked in for 24-36 hours, until the winds finally clock to the north. As long as we stay above 26 degrees, we can then run down to the Providence Channel entrance through the Bahamas, and enjoy moderate to light tail-winds after that for the final 2 days of passage-making and the Gulf Stream crossing. Fingers crossed, anyway.

I’m looking forward to heaving-to and taking a shower, lounging around, and making some good meals on the stove! The highest winds are forecast to be only around 20 knots or so, so it should hopefully be a pretty mellow heave-to. Not even necessary, perhaps, but the winds do look quite a bit higher on the Florida Straits side of the Bahamas, and we don’t want to jump the gun and run into that mess. The biggest thing to keep an eye on will probably just be alerting the numerous cruise ships and tankers of our stationary location as they pass by. We hear word that the front that just swept us brought a blizzard to the US East coast! Glad to be on this end of it, below latitude 30. It looked really nasty up there on my weatherfax charts.

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