Sunday, April 18, 2010
On Thursday the 15th of April we departed Green Turtle at 0810 with Tamure, and once in the Sea found several other boats headed out. Winds were glorious, 20-25 knots, on the stern quarter, so we had a robust sail to Great Sale Cay, 61 miles away, arriving at 1750. By the time the sun set, there were about 15 boats in the harbor (which can accommodate many more), all chattering to each other about their plans, where to go, when to leave, etc. It was an uncertain forecast as to seas, with the potential for rocking and rolling if you left before Neptune settled down after the big winds. And, if you were to stretch the trip too long, you would likely run into a cold front accompanied by squalls with thunderstorms welcoming you back to the US of A.
After much discussion and with Chris Parker's advice, Tamure and First Edition took off on Friday at 1700 (five in the evening), and tagged up with Tethys, who had taken off that morning from Green Turtle and chose to join us when they heard us discussing our plans on the VHF. Winds were more than expected but welcomed, with about 20 knots from behind, so we sailed out of the harbor leaving many boats wondering I am sure if they should stay or go. We thought we actually might be able to sail the whole way, but abandoned that notion a few hours later when the winds shifted directly behind us. Tamure, anxious to set the record straight after we bested them the day before, hoisted their spinnaker pole and took the lead, running wing-on-wing through the night. (This means that you put one sail on one side of the boat, and the other on the other side. It is hard to do unless you have a pole, which I can assure you First Edition will acquire in the very short future.) Seas were about 3-4 feet, as expected, and increased to 3-5 from several directions in the Gulf Stream. Thanks to Stugeron, no ill effects were felt on First Edition.
Near daybreak, I noticed a cargo ship's AIS signal showing up on our chartplotter. AIS stands for something like Avoidance Identification System, which is provided by another electronic thing you can buy for your boat that every once in a while proves the expenditure was worth it. Like today.
The AIS software has a feature that sends an alarm when a vessel which is transmitting an AIS signal comes within a dangerous range from your boat, providing the time and distance from and to the closest point of approach. Commercial vessels are required to use an AIS, and some pleasure boats have opted to do so as well. In the case of Euro Lima, the data showed that in short order she would come within 300 feet of First Edition. And trust me, this does not sound as close as it looks. Hailing Euro Lima did not result in a reply, so I changed course 30 degrees and still came close enough to count the containers on board.
At about 3:30 in the afternoon we picked up a mooring at Vero Beach City Marina and rafted with Thethys and Tamure. Charlie and Luisa on Thethys hosted us for a Bahama Grouper dinner, and then we all fell into our bunks, exhausted and satisfied with a good crossing.