ontherocks83, here's the checkin you asked for.
It was quite an eventful trip. I originally planned to depart at first light on Wednesday (8 October). The forecast was for 25-30kts out of the south early Wednesday accompanied by 6-9 foot seas, winds and seas veering to the west as the day went on. Rain was supposed to be heavy in the morning, clearing in the afternoon and winds dropping to 15-20. The rest of the trip was looking mild with 5-15 abaft the beam the whole way. Cloud cover was set to be clear most of the journey, to increasing on Saturday evening as we made landfall in Bermuda.
Based on this forecast, I decided to delay our departure a few hours. Who wants to start a trip pounding into a lumpy 25+? We cast off at 0930, just as the sky was clearing. The wind had already shifted to the southwest and we had a speedy run (8.5kts+) along the rhumb line (165M). The winds eased during the day and by nightfall we had slowed to 7 knots. I looked at the current GRIBs I had pulled before departure and decided to alter course to the east to pick up what looked like a long run of favorable current. We spent Thursday alternating between sail and power. Thursday weatherfax showed a new development -- a possible tropical disturbance forming just north of the virgin islands
. The hoped-for favorable current never materialized, and I found us motoring against a 2knt current into the night and into Friday morning. Friday afternoon brought a shock. The Navtex, slightly garbled, described a tropical depression headed for Bermuda late Sunday and requested all vessels within 300 miles of *&*(&)&^(* to get on a 3 hour reporting schedule with Bermuda radio
Although we had wasted time getting east of the rhumb line and fighting adverse current, I decided I'd burn some diesel
and beat the storm to Bermuda. I was only about 250 miles out. Without the current, I could get in late Saturday night. If the unfavorable current persisted, that might push into early Sunday morning.
Interested in keeping Bermuda marops updated per their request (did it apply to me? i didn't know), I realized that I had forgotten to note the HF frequencies for Bermuda radio. I also didn't know if they wanted us on the reporting as I couldn't decipher the area of interest.
I attempted to call my wife on the satphone. It was then I discovered that the "units" I had just purchased for the phone
were, for some reason, not valid. No worries.. I could still take incoming calls. So I pressed the custom "please call me" button on our spot gps
and an hour or so later my wife called. I asked her to call Bermuda marops, to give them our tracking URL, learn their HF monitoring frequencies, and call me back.
My wife did call back, with the message that the storm had been upgraded to a tropical storm, was due in Sunday morning, and that Bermuda marops had said I should slow way down and not plan to arrive Bermuda until at least Monday. Monday? I was only 240 miles away now and it was still Friday!
So, what to do.... I felt that simply going slow was not an option for me -- if something changed in the storms path, and it came further north, I was a sitting duck, sitting in the strong current of the gulf stream (or a northbound eddie). So, I headed west southwest. This way if the storm did change course, I'd be more sure to be on the navigable side of it. Also, I would hopefully escape this northbound current I was in. I went west until 68W, then due south. I planned on heading south to below 33N, and then make a bee-line directly east to Bermuda.
I arrived at about 35N 68W by Saturday night. A look at the latest weatherfax, though, showed the storm was continuing Northwest and was going to hook "up" a bit more before turning east for Bermuda. I decided to go no further south and hove-to at 34 45N for the night on Saturday.
By Sunday morning the seas and winds had built. Even hove-to it was getting bouncy. I was still 240 miles from Bermuda -- the same distance I had been about 40 hours before -- I was eager to make progress. Up until now, the only "weather" we experienced the whole trip was a fast and bumpy first day -- it was otherwise gorgeous. I figured that since the storm was moving NE at 15-20kts and I would be moving ESE at ~7kts, it would be moving the nasty stuff away from me.
Sunday was interesting. We were broad reaching in 30kts gusting 35-40, facing a 1-1.5kt current. The seas were very odd in the 10-12 foot range, as they were developing -- causing the boat to both yaw and roll. By afternoon the seas had developed to 15-18ft, but were much more comfortable. I had no interest in pushing the boat hard since I was chasing the storm, so I was perfectly happy making only 6kts SOG. (against a current).
By midnight the wind had eased and the seas became strange again, coming from every direction. Just before dawn we put on the motor
to keep forward progress. When the sun came out, we took a reef out of the main, and exchanged the staysail for a partially furled genoa
. We screamed along, beating, against the current with 15-20kts true wind, all the way to Bermuda, arriving Sunday at sunset. As we took a right turn to make it through the reef, for the first time in the whole trip we finally had favorable current.
So.... what should have been a 3.5 day 640 mile trip turned into a 5.5 day 900+ mile trip. We pretty much avoided any heavy weather. The gulf stream, aside from giving us contrary-to-prediction opposing currents was quite timid.
Now we have a different problem. We're sitting in St. Georges looking at the weather forecast and seeing Gonzalo headed straight for us. Wish us luck!