Antigua to Norfolk VA - day 1

Stravaig'n the Blue
Mon 10 May 2021 16:18
End of day 1 position: 19:24.1 N  063:20.2 W
Position timestamp: Monday 10 May 2021 11:00
Distance travelled last 24 hours: 166 NM
Average speed since departure: 6.7 knots
Shortest distance to destination: 1270 NM

We are on our way to the USA!

This year’s plan had been to recross the Atlantic and spend some time sailing in the UK. However, following the UK’s departure from the EU at the end of 2020, the VAT situation on pleasure craft is far from clear in many cases, ours being one of them. We are therefore sailing to the US and flying back to the UK. We’ll return to the US in late October, make our way down to the Bahamas for the winter and deal with the VAT situation next year when the situation, hopefully, will be more clear.

The northern Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. To obtain insurance cover for the boat while it is in the US during this period the boat has to be north of 35 degrees North (round about Cape Hatteras in North Carolina). We have arranged for the boat to be hauled out and stored ashore at Deltaville in Virginia (37.5 North) but need to make landfall where there’s a US Customs & Border Protection presence so that we can go though immigration, customs and obtain a cruising license. Hence Norfolk. Deltaville is 60 miles further north, on the western shores of Chesapeake Bay.

The route to Norfolk is 1433 miles and is very straight forward. After clearing the reefs at the entrance to Jolly Harbour, set a course of 345 degrees magnetic and sail 1403 miles to Cape Henry at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. From there, follow the big ships' channel for 28 miles into downtown Norfolk and take your pick from the Waterside Marina on the Norfolk side or the Tidewater Marina on the Portsmouth side.

We left our slip in Jolly Harbour Marina at 10:00 on Sunday but after sitting out a brief tropical downpour, mounting the Watt&Sea hydroelectric generator on the transom, and hoisting the mainsail it was 11:00 before we were properly under way.

Jolly Harbour fades into the distance while rain clouds build overhead.

We passed between Barbuda and Nevis and then we had St Kitts, St Barts (the only island we actually saw, its peaks silhouetted against the sunset), St Maarten/Martin and finally Anguilla (at midnight) all to port. No more land until the US.

The wind has been reasonably steady at 18-20 knots from the east (90-100 M). There were quite a few squalls (winds around 25 knots) yesterday and we spent a lot of time reefing and then shaking out reefs half an hour later. Overnight, with the main headsail out fully and two reefs in the main we still made better than planned progress without having to alter the sails. 

Ali is well, apart from the stifling humidity.