Charleston to the Bahamas – day 1

Everyone was up and moving at 6am on Monday the 6th to cast off the lines, with a plan to ride the outgoing tide out of the harbor and head south toward our Gulf Stream crossing point.

We headed out of the channel at about 0630 (after Jamie Ewing came running up to shake our hands as we were untying the boat!) and it felt good to be moving again.

A little while later, we passed another boat in the Salty Dawg rally, Raftan. Patrick hit them up on the radio to remind them we are of course racing to Marsh Harbour (wink wink). They laughed and asked us to be sure to let them know when we turn the engine on (we are all expecting to do some motoring on the trip).

A pod of dolphins decide to joined us to see us on our way, and Chris got a great shot of them.

We pointed south toward our Gulf Stream entry coordinates, estimating we’d be entering the stream late tonight. You can see our planned track on this picture as a diagonal line from Charleston headed southeast, crossing a narrow part of the Gulf Stream and hopefully also avoiding some adverse current on the other side. The current is represented by arrows and colors – arrows for direction and colors for the speed.

The black “Ls” and “Fs” you see on there are wind barbs, which indicate wind direction and speed. For direction, you look at how the shaft of the arrow is oriented, which tells you where the wind is coming from. For speed, the short “feathers” on the arrows represent 5 knots, and longer feathers are 10. If there’s a short and a long feather together, it’s 15 knots; two longs make 20. As an example, the winds nearest Charleston on this file are 10 knots coming from the northeast.

The day was pretty uneventful. We had wind for a lot longer than we thought we would, so we sailed all day in a calm downwind mode, which was nice. We put the code up and let the wind push us along at a true wind angle of 150.

Everyone hung out on deck enjoying the sail.

More dolphins came to hang out just before sunset.

At 1830, we enjoyed Thai chicken curry for dinner from our master chef Patrick, who has been keeping us happily fed on all these passages, and we had a look at our sail plan for the night. We were about 30 degrees off our approach to the Gulf Stream entry coordinates, so we decided to roll up the code and motorsail, knowing also the breeze that had been hanging in there at 10-14 knots all day was expected to die at some point.

At around 2030, we realized we had to have entered the Gulf Stream a couple of hours before we expected to. Sea temp was up to 83 degrees (balmy!) and we were seeing anywhere from 1-2 knots of current sweeping us north. We were steering 210 degrees to make a course of 196. So, that was kinda cool – we were finally making the crossing!

Now that it was properly dark out, we spotted the Milky Way creating its hazy trail across the sky. I called Cecelia up on deck to check it out, and she was duly impressed. She said it was like a “once in 500 years kind of thing” to see that, and then after thinking for another minute said it was kind of like magic. Yes, my dear, it kind of is.

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