BEOWULF now has a direct path to the ocean after passing through eight bridges and one set of locks. The security of Atlantic Yacht Basin is nice, but in the world in which we now live we don’t like all those barriers to the freedom of the seas!
The Hampton Municipal Piers are humming with 50-some participants in this year’s Caribbean 1500 doing last-minute jobs, stocking up, and boat-watching. We’ve seen a bunch of old friends from last year, and are looking forward to making some new acquaintances.
BEOWULF is just about ready to go. We’ve run through the sail inventory, except for the main and mizzen spinnakers, which we’ll check on our test sail this afternoon-along with making sure the sailing instruments are calibrated, rig tune is correct, and most important, the autopilots are functioning properly. Oh, and we’ve still got to check the mizzen mast and make sure there is nothing which will snag the mizzen headsails. And of course we’re watching the weather.
According to our performance data and the SetSail\-MaxSea routing program, if we’d left for the Virgin Gorda this past Friday, Saturday or Sunday we’d have been there in four days flat. I’m starting to think that this routing software-more like virtual passagemaking-is better than the real thing. We don’t get wet, and there’s no wear and tear on the boat.
The only problem now is that conditions are looking decidedly less favorable in the next few days. The forecasters are still calling for reaching conditions, but I see a more-than-even chance of starting off with headwinds-something no cruising sailor wants to do…
The real issue right now is the tropical depression working itself up in the Gulf of Mexico, and to a lesser degree another tropical situation in the mid-Atlantic. Both have the potential to become dangerous storms in that the upper atmosphere is conducive to further strengthening. The steering currents are hard to read at this point-either of those storms could be in the same area as the Caribbean 1500 fleet in a week to ten days. So my guess is that if the situation is still unresolved Sunday, we’ll end up hanging out for a few days until the weather situation is more settled. The bonus in that is we will finally get to visit a few museums and plantation homes we’ve been meaning to get to.