The missing night

Time 09NOV2018, 18:00 local
Latitude N 27° 03.9’
Longitude W 79° 16.w’
Weather: E, 8, gusting 10. Clear
Course: 165°M
Speed: 4.4 knots
Water temperature: 84.0°F
Nautical miles from Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel: 616NM
Nautical miles to Port Everglades, Florida: 73NM

One of the most spectacular things about sailing offshore is the night sky. Hundreds of miles from any other lights, on a moonless night the splash of the Milky Way across the zenith can hold your attention for hours.

Coming up on deck to start a night watch, the first thing is always a look up at the sky. Of course you are getting a feel for the weather, but it also just awes and stirs the soul.

I came up for my first night watch last night as we made out turn around Little Bahama Bank I to the Straits of Florida. I was treated by a clear sky, sparkling with stars, but fewer than I expected, and no Milky Way at all. Even though we were 50 miles from the coast of Florida, the artificial light leaking up into the sky washed out the view. I wonder how many people reading this can walk out into the moonless night and REALLY see the stars? A very lucky few, I imagine.

We should be in Florida dropping anchor tomorrow afternoon on the way to a haulout Monday morning.

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Was it just last week?

Time 08NOV2018, 18:00 local
Latitude N 27° 04.3’
Longitude W 79° 04.3’
Weather: NE, 6, gusting 8, Mostly clear
Course: 205°
Speed: 2.5 knots
Water temperature: 84.5°F
Nautical miles from Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel: 569NM
Nautical miles to Port Everglades, Florida: 117NM

It happened today… even before I expected. The guilty party shall remain nameless. Just last week it was cold. Well, cold for us tropical birds—down in the 40’s even! We were both looking forward to warm again! Who knew that the first complaint about it being “too hot” would come before we even touched land? To be fair, it was 90 degrees in the cabin, and a bit stuffy.

We struggle with less wind then we’d like, but the overnight forecast is promising. We’ll be approaching the northernmost islands of the Bahamas tonight, and once again crossing the Gulf Stream early tomorrow morning.

No luck on the fishing front…yet.

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Joining the dark side

Time 07NOV2018, 11:00 local
Latitude N 30° 07.0’
Longitude W 77° 51.3’
Weather: SSW, 3, gusting 6, Mostly sunny
Course: 218°
Speed: 6.8 knots
Water temperature: 82.9°F
Nautical miles from Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel: 422NM
Nautical miles to Port Everglades, Florida: 268NM

Early this morning, as forecast, the wind went away. We have been motoring for several hours and it looks like that will continue for a bit more. Other than a few small and mild rain squalls, nothing interesting to report on weather. A few flying fish cover the recent wildlife sightings.

Last night we were past in the dark by Adele, a 180 foot (!) sailboat. Like us she is headed for Fort Lauderdale. Hopefully we get a look at her there.

With calmer seas, and easier sailing, we put out some fishing lines. Hopefully that will be productive.

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Almost halfway

Time 06NOV2018, 14:00 local
Latitude N 31° 39.3’
Longitude W 76° 30.2’
Weather: SSE, 12, gusting 15, Sunny
Course: 230°
Speed: 5.8 knots
Water temperature: 80.8°F
Nautical miles from Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel: 319NM
Nautical miles to Port Everglades, Florida: 383NM

A bit less than halfway as the gull flies, but past halfway in sailing distance. We’ve had more variable weather than in past trips, but nothing nasty. A bit more beating into the wind than we like, but we continue to make good progress. We should be making landfall late Friday or early Saturday.

We are once again in the world of flying fish. We know this because we have found the first one on deck this morning. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get the fishing lines out.

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Progess South

Time 05NOV2018, 10:00 local
Latitude N 33° 08.0’
Longitude W 75° 34.2’
Wind: SSE, 12, gusting 15
Course: 230°
Speed: 5.2 knots
Water temperature: 80.6°F
Nautical miles from Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel: 231NM
Nautical miles to Port Everglades, Florida: 484NM

After a fast and windy day yesterday, and a windy rainy night, we are on the back side of the front. A few scattered shower remain, gray skies, and the waves are shrinking as the wind fades. The air temperature is warm and comfortable, we have shed the layers of warm clothing we needed just two days ago.

The wind direction is not ideal, but at least for now we can maintain a course more or less in the direction we want to go. The weather models are all over the place for the next few days, we have to sort out what we get!

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“The Twinkles are Back!”

Time 04NOV2018, 05:30 local
Latitude N 35° 26.9’
Lon W 75° 07.2’
Wind: NE, 19, gusting 25
Course: 160°
Speed: 8.3 knots
Water temperature: 74.3°F
Nautical miles from Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel: 104NM
Nautical miles to Port Everglades, Florida: 616NM

The first glimmers of dawn are showing as we leave Cape Hatteras behind, and approach the edge of the continental shelf where the water drops from a hundred feet deep to over a mile. The weather has so far been running as predicted with wind changes in speed and direction running as we had expected. We’ll likely have the roughest water of the trip in a few hours as we cross the Gulf Stream.

After a spectacularly clear afternoon and night, a few scattered clouds are spreading across the sky. The moon rose just before dawn so we were treated to a beautiful dark sky spread of stars. The bioluminescent plankton put on a competing show in the disturbed water in Harmonie’s wake. Not just there either. As Karen announced after coming up on deck for her night watch, “The twinkles are back!” She was revering to the plankton lighting up the toilet bowl with the seawater flush!

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Southward!

Leaving the Chesapeake Bay, that’s Cape Henry Light. Our last close encounter with land for the next 4 or 5 days. We are on a fast reach with a strong current pushing us out, our speed offer ground is an impressive 10 to 12 knots. Winds are as forecast, 15 to 20 knots from the Northwest.

Several other boats have taken advantage of the favorable winds today to launch southward, it’s a crowd! With close to a dozen boats headed in the same direction, that makes a race! Not that we are competitive or anything…

We’ll be headed South-Southeast for the next 48 hours or so, crossing the Gulf Stream, then turning to the Southwest for a more or less straight run to the Florida Coast.

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