Atlantic Ocean about 38 NM North of Rum Cay (Bahamas)
N 24 24.947 W 074 54.253 Course 200 Speed 1.1 knots
Welcome to Winter. Today is the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year. This is a day beloved by solar panel users everywhere as for the next 6 months the days get longer and the solar panels generate more power. As I have traveled South the days have become a few minutes longer but not really enough to disturb the routine. A standing joke is “cruisers midnight.” The classic definition is 8 PM. What it really speaks to is the fact that cruisers live by the sun. Once it gets dark its time to go to bed, once the sun comes up its time to get up. It also speaks to the fact that most cruisers are in the 50’s through 70’s and don’t go out clubbing a lot at night.
When I left Cape Fear I left behind the cold weather. The water is in the mid 70’s. The boat is warm, yesterday it was 80 inside the cabin. Quite a change from last year when I was in New Bern, NC with minor medical problems and the nights were already getting cold. Had I known then what I know now I would have set sail from New Bern in January. As it was I sat out a cold winter with occasional snow in the cockpit.
I grew up in the Northeast. My images of December are chilly days with a fireplace and a warm companion (not to discount Christmas and New Years.) Now that it has gotten warmer XO (the Wonder Cat) has been decidedly less cuddly at night. In the past he would scrunch his body as close to mine as possible for warmth. Now its just two forepaws on my arm to establish ownership and dominance.
I finally got some decent winds from the East yesterday and got in a good 12 hours of brisk sailing in the right direction. About two hours ago the wind shifted 90 degrees to the South. I went up to see what was happening and was greeted by a mist. I tried various sail configurations to no avail. The wind has died back into the 4 to 5 knot range. I am currently making my way south slowly while waiting for the wind to fill back in from the East as is forecast.
One thing I did not expect on this trip was all of this light air. I have been in some pretty scary weather: off Miquelon Island and soloing the Atlantic to Portugal. The only other time I have had sustained light winds was also in the Bahamas. Then I was in Exuma Sound surrounded by islands. Now I am in the open ocean with 3000 miles of water to the East. Coming on top of the severe weather that kept me in Norfolk for several weeks this is quite shock. I am reminded of the doldrums scene in Master and Commander.
Fair winds and following seas J