Race Lost

Current Location: 24 19.41N 68 33.20W
Distance from San Salvador: 328 NM.
Distance from Culebra: 407NM
Local time: 12:30
Weather: Overcast, widely scattered showers, Wind 4NNW, Seas 2 feet

About dusk last night we lost our race against the patch of windless weather that had been following us. A short period of drenching rain was followed by a few hours of winds from the NW, but that pretty quickly faded to “light and variable.” Our trusty Volvo diesel has been moving us along while we wait for the easterly trade winds to fill back in.

Normally when we are in winds this light, the waves calm down quick quickly. This is a bit of an exception. Even though right here, right now, the winds are very light, only a couple dozen miles in any direction the wind is blowing. Because of this we are in what is normally described as a “confused” sea. There are large, widely spaced, waves coming from the southeast, and smaller waves, closer together, from the northwest and from the northeast. The resulting jumble is chaotic. It leads to a boat motion that is not violent, or extreme, but unpredictable, especially without the steady pressure of wind in the sails.

We have a local destination we are hoping to pause at this afternoon: “ODAS 41046” This is part of the “Offshore Data Acquisition System” or, in words not invented by someone working in a government office, a weather buoy. This one is (somehow!) tethered in 18,000 feet of water! If you have followed any of our fishing posts, you will be aware that anything floating in the otherwise featureless open water will attract and hold large number of fish. Tuna, mahi-mahi, jacks, wahoo, and endless numbers of small baitfish. I am hopeful that the weather will allow us a hour or two of catching before dark.

One possibility is that the buoy charted not actually there. Buoys, especially those anchored in such deep water have a tendency to go walkabout in storms. They can also be a bit harder to find than you might think. Even if the anchor was dropped EXACTLY at the charted point (unlikely!) It probably didn’t go straight down for 3 miles(!). Then the cable that secures it is longer than the depth of the water, so it has a large swinging circle, and finally, has the anchor stayed in exactly the same spot as it was when deployed? This one is just a few miles from our planned course, so is worth the effort to detour and see what we can find. These data sources are important to forecasting, especially during hurricane season and tend to be well maintained. We are hopeful that it is there and we can find it!

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1 Response to Race Lost

  1. James Alton says:

    Bill, I hope that you find the buoy and that the fishing is great! We have been in confused seas without any wind a number of times. I am sure that the Trades will fill in soon. All of those efforts to improve the pointing ability of your boat are no doubt paying off on this trip. Have fun and stay safe.


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