Atlantic Ocean Day 6 Noon Position 28:42.527N 74:48.381W
Bill and Judy Stellin
Wed 7 May 2008 21:29
If I thought yesterdays "spot of bother" with the tornado thing was bad, later in the day we almost were in even worse.
It could have been a heap of trouble.
For six days, we've only seen one ship. It was a cruise ship probably from Miami to St Thomas.
Except for that, nothing. Just an empty ocean.
We always have one person in the cockpit all night long, and probably 95% of the time during daylight hours as well.
Yesterday afternoon Judy was fixing something in the galley and I came down below to read and get out of the sun and heat.
Out of the blue we hear two very very loud horn blasts.
We both raced up on deck to see a monster freighter at right angles to us and we are about to hit it broadside just aft of their anchors. We are not 200 feet away from it.
I lunged for the autopilot control to shut it off and grabbed the wheel from in front of it. I didn't even have time to get behind it. Spun the boat to starboard so we were running alongside the freighter and kept turning in a big circle while he moseyed on by.
We were sailing and had the right of way, but we'd be dead if he hadn't blown his horn in time. It is a wonder why he waited so long. Judy surmised he didn't see us until the last second due to the sun in his eyes.
In any event, a lesson relearned which we know by heart and 99% of the time abide to.
Always keep a watch.
That boat and one more a few hours later plus the cruise ship have been the only things we've seen all passage.
Today has been delightful. Sailing on a beam reach in 15 kts winds with only a small sea running.
Unfortunately, the winds have been getting lighter and lighter each day, so our average distance made good keeps dropping. The noon to noon distance for today was only 142 miles. Hopefully that will be our lowest for the passage.
A few minutes ago we put up the spinnaker and then within the hour took it back down because the wind is gusty and the pilot was having a hard time in the gusts. While the average wind speed might be 15 kts., the gust can bring an added 10kts which sometimes is too much for the pilot. Actually the pilot can handle it, it is just that it puts a strain on it, and I don't want any trouble with it. It has served us faithfully for almost 29,000 miles without fail. It deserves a lot of respect and tender loving care.
While I write this however, the wind and gusts continues to lighten so the kite will probably go back up. I don't want to have to motor, which we did for about 12 hours last night. We have more than enough fuel to motor the entire balance of the trip, but it is noisy and not as fast as sailing if we have at least 10 kts of apparent wind.
Only about 305 nautical miles left to go. I expect we will be in Charleston harbor on Sat.
A couple of days ago I talked to Herb, (the weather router) and told him I would check in yesterday. I forgot all about it, and did so again today. Now I am probably back on his s--- list, so I don't dare to call him tomorrow for fear of another scolding.
I can get weather from a variety of sources including Chris Parker, (the for pay guy) if I just listen in to their frequencies at the right time. Weather reports are not as necessary for me as some. One report covering a few days is good enough. Some people however need an update hourly and a forecast for a week out even while they are in a harbor sweating the thought of a 5 hour passage in the lee of and island.
My good friend Gene Davidson, who first took me sailing in his Islander 36 and inspired me to even consider a sailboat, said it best when he advised, Bill, learn to sail the weather. Best advice I have ever had about sailing. He also was the first person I ever met who sailed the Atlantic and put the seed in my mind about doing the same thing. Best seed ever planted. (Except for our children or course).