I turn 31 this April 6th. Man, 31 years old. When you’re in your twenties you can still make excuses. “It doesn’t matter I’m only 25 or 27.” When your pass 30 there is no more room for excuses – it’s time to get down to business. I’m having a small birthday party, you’re all invited but it might be a long swim. I got this heavy sweet bread during the Recife resupply called Bolo De Rolo. I had two of them, I ate one already. Bolo De Rolo consists of many layers of soft bread rolled up with a sweet fruit filling between each layer. Anyway, that’s my birthday cake. I’ll make a couple candles out of cardboard. I also have a bottle of wine I’ve been saving for a special occasion. I was given this bottle of wine on my last trip when I was anchored in Falmouth England. The guy who gave it to me was a seventy-six year old single hander who had sailed alone across the Atlantic 6 times in the last six years. He bought the bottle when he was in the Caribbean and it sailed with him back to England. Then it sailed with me to France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal and Gambia then back across the ocean to the Caribbean and finally to Annapolis. Then I brought it with me on this trip and placed it in my ditch bag. If I ended up in a life raft at least I would have some good wine. This bottle of wine has sailed more miles in the last four years than most people do in a lifetime, but its sailing days will come to an end on April 6th.
What can I say about the recent weather that hasn’t already been said about dysentery? This is the sixth time I’ve brought a boat up from the Caribbean along this route and usually the winds are at least half decent. I’ve had either no wind or head winds for the last week and my forecast doesn’t look much better. It’s still a bit early in the season, two years ago I was bringing a 42ft Bavaria up from Puerto Rico with Mike (the guy who’s running this website) and we were hit by a late season Nor’easter just east of the Gulf Stream off Hatteras. So gales are not uncommon – I had a nasty one pass to the north of me the last couple days. I had Northwest winds and a large swell and as you can see by my iTrac tracking device I’ve been zig-zaging back and forth going nowhere. I’ve also been pounding my brains out. I reduced sail to my third reef point and I was still pounding. I’ll go over a wave then free fall for four or five feet then BAM I hit the next wave and my whole boat shudders in the most incredible way. At the same time my bulkheads crunch and pop and my rig grinds on its base. There’s no way to sleep, I’ve been up for the better part of 50 hours. This is nothing new I’ve been dealing with headwinds on and off throughout the trip but the boat is not what it used to be. Neither am I – I’ve got a tooth ache and I’ve been getting strange sharp pains in my abdomen when I sleep. I think we are both in need of a rest. Well there is some good news, I will have good winds on the 5th and 6th but then they will become northerly again for possibly five days. I can’t cross the Gulf Stream if the winds are blowing out of the north more than 15 knots, especially off Hatteris. Patients is the key to Hatteras – you never round it when it’s blowing hard out of the north. To do so is foolishness border-lining incompetence. So I might end up hove-to east of the Gulf Stream waiting for a weather window to appear. It’s unlikely I’ll be back by April 14th. It’s a shame, I’m not far from the bay but the winds and waves have conspired against me. Of course it could always be worse, I’m still floating. It’s just been and will continue to be a difficult and uncomfortable ride to the finish line.
My wind generator stopped working two days ago. It’s possible that it’s kicked the bucket. I’ll try to rewire it again but I think the problem is internal and beyond simple wiring. If that’s the case the little solar panels I received in Recife are not strong enough up here to power my GPS and AIS. Unfortunately my AIS is not independent – it runs through the GPS so if one doesn’t work neither does the other. There has been a lot of traffic lately and it would suck badly if I can no longer power those units. Not to mention no more power for my laptop so no more weather forecasts. I’ll mess with the wind generator today but it’s been slowly getting worse since Cape Horn. I knew it would die eventually.
I had a wave break over my boat a couple days ago. It’s been awhile since that’s happened. I have such low freeboard that sometimes a wave will break over the entire boat. St Brendan is literally under the wave and therefor underwater for a moment. The boat heels way over and things go flying around in the cabin, including myself. I wish I could get an aerial picture of it happening. You would see a big breaking wave with a little mast sticking out. I didn’t expect it to happen and the wave washed my sailing gloves overboard along with my fresh water bucket that was tied off to the boom. I was trying to collect some rain earlier that day but the wave ripped my bucket right off the boom. So I can no longer collect rain water nor do I have sailing gloves.
All in all I have no idea when I’ll get back. There is a low that will be coming off Hatteras in a few days that might become a gale. If it does it will be northerly and will probably push me backwards for 50-60 miles. Even if it doesn’t become a gale its going be hard going north against the wind. The long term forecast could change but right now it’s pretty bad. This trip will end when Poseidon says it will end and not a day sooner.