Early in the planning of this winter’s cruise I had discussed with Rob and been pretty excited about, sailing together on Skylark as part of the Salty Dog Rally from Norfolk to the BVIs. This would be about a 2 week run as you need to sail due east for a while before turning south. Once you get to the approximate latitude of the Bahamas the easterly trade wind is prevailing and strong. If you try to go from Florida to the Caribbean you’d be fighting your way upwind or waiting for the brief breaks that occur in the prevailing wind.
Sailing with the rally means that you at least think there will be other boats around if things go sour. The boats all check in daily and provide position reports. They also use the services of a weather router to minimize the risk of truly heavy weather.
After much consideration I decided not to do this trip for two reasons. The actual passage to the Caribbean would be challenging and fun but I had concerns about what happened after. I’d be down there for months on my own. Now it’s not hard to make new friends when you’re on a boat, other cruisers are in the same, well, boat as you are and so tend to help each other out a lot. I felt it would be difficult and expensive for me to get back to the States or for Linda to visit and this made it feel like I would be isolated. I’d also need to work my way back on my own. I’m not that confident in my visual piloting skills yet and I believe I’d need a lot of that in the Caribbean. I use and rely on the GPS more than I think I should or is prudent so that’s the next thing to work on. So overall it seemed more stress and responsibility than I wanted to take on at this point.
Then Irma and Maria made a big mess down there anyway…
So this year’s plan is to sail to Florida, mostly outside and down the coast, stay off the ICW as much as possible, take care of anything that needs doing on Skylark, decide whether to head for the Keys and Tortugas or the Bahamas. I’m still not clear on the conditions after Irma in the Keys and south so we’ll see. I feel I can work on visual piloting and reading the water in the Keys and the Bahamas and still be able to bail and head back to Florida if I need to. Baby steps. Still planning on sailing to the Caribbean on another cruise.
I’m writing this Thursday morning, October 12. I’ve been waiting for weather to lave NY for close to two weeks. I’ve used the time well to finish Skylark and other projects but I’m getting really antsy waiting. Hurricanes and gales have passed by. The days are getting short and the leaves are falling fast. The air is still warm but the sun is low and it’s time to go. As of this morning’s forecast Monday looks like a good day to leave NY harbor so we’ll stay on the boat Saturday night in Croton and head south on the morning tide.
Who’s we? Tom Bryan, a friend I made over the winter in the boat yard will be on the NY to Norfolk leg.