Underway Day 1: Bahamas to SC or NC

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

029-30.000 N
079-39.000 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket!

We're currently about 75 miles offshore from Daytona Beach, FL and are in the Gulf Stream headed N. One would think that there wouldn't be much to report, but there is: Current & Thunder Storms.

My plan was rather simple: Exit the reef cut between Grand Cay and Walker's Cay and then head towards the Gulf Stream where we'd pick up a 2+ kt current boost. What I didn't know, and that none of the charts show, is that there's a 2+ kt current heading S along the outer edge of the Abacos. Had I known this I would have scooted across the inside of the Abacos, exited near Memory Rock and wouldn't have had to battle with up to 2.5 kts of current for 60 miles! When we first got out into it I thought that it was tidal current. Then I figured that it would diminish as we moved away from the coast, so I headed due N and that didn't help. By the time I realized what we were in, it was too late to head back in and cross the Abaco banks. It was really quite discouraging to see a 3.8 kt speed over ground when our water speed was 6+ kts! It took 14 hours and until we were well clear of the NW tip of the Bahamas before we lost the anti-current.

Last night we had dinner at around 7:30 and as I was eating I noted a line of thunderheads in front of us. There was a big papa one and a bunch of baby ones trailing it. We were motor-sailing in very light winds, so I decided to drop the sails in case we ran into one of them. Then on the radar I noted that the papa thunderhead was starting to drop some rain. I tried changing course, but I couldn't seem to plot a course free of it. Little by little it grew and finally I found a course which passed just behind it. Then the little ones started growing and dropping rain. The papa decided that a lightening show was needed, so it started throwing lightening bolts around it. Sue was supposed to have been on watch, but I suggested that I take her watch (as though I wouldn't have been up there with her anyhow), so she headed down to get some sleep. The little ones kept growing and soon there was a 14 mile line of thunderstorms with a single small path through them. As I maneuvered BlueJacket into the hole, the hole collapsed and I had torrential rain coming horizontally over the decks with lightening crashing on all sides. And I mean closely on all side. The flashes were blinding and you'd see them and 1-2 seconds later you'd get the thunder. Sound travels at 1100 ft/sec, so these were close, everywhere and constant. At times the strikes were only seconds apart. On the radar I could see that we had to travel about 2 miles to get out from the rain and at about 6 kts, that meant 20 minutes of this. That was a long 20 minutes, but we got out unscathed. I don't think that Sue got any sleep! :-)

We worked our way into the middle of the Gulf Stream and have been motor-sailing along at 8+ kts. We're thinking about heading on to Cape Fear or Beaufort, NC instead of stopping at Charleston as the ride right now is so good. Who can argue with 3' long rollers and otherwise flat seas? It could be a LOT worse. The biggest issue is that we have no wind and limited fuel.

We're sorry to hear about all of the rain problems that the mid-Atlantic is having. You may recall me talking about a low that formed over us and then moved across FL and up the coast. Well, that's the low that is causing all of the problems. To shorten my report I deleted a line that said "That low will work its way up the E coast and you'll have to deal with that next week." Man, I should have left that in and you'd all be looking at me like I was some kind of forecasting guru! :-)

That's it from here. We hope that you're well and dry!

- Geoff & Sue
Log ID: 879

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