Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Passage from Chesapeake to Rhode Island - Day 2

[Kyle] The wind had been predicted to begin dying and shifting just after Midnight on the second day, based on the forecast we had downloaded just before departure. We ended up being unable to load subsequent forecasts because it turns out that Windows Vista is not supported by our satellite phone provider, Iridium. (We had previously used the phone successfully on an older computer that ran on Windows XP just fine) It seems that Iridium has been having the same problem everybody else in the world is in getting things to run correctly on Vista. Iridium assured us that they were working hard on the problem but wouldn't have a solution before we set off. The HF weather broadcasts we were able to pick up on the shortwave radio tended to cover a much too large area of deep ocean to our East and were therefore too general for our purposes. Often times the signal propagation was not good and we would miss the forecast for our area and be without until the next one came around half a day later. This left us very much in an eighteenth century mode of watching the gray sky and keeping an eye on the barometer.

As we sailed further east, the wind continued to increase slightly although the wave height seemed to stabilize. We saw 2 Navy destroyers about half a mile off and the waves were big enough to completely obscure the ships when we were in the troughs. They circled us for a bit and then went on their way without trying to contact us on the radio. They seemed to have been assuring themselves that we weren't in distress. Everywhere we looked was roiling water. The view out the windows was either all water or all sky. The motion always seems worse below and as each of us went inside for our off-watches we were forced to finally surrender our lunches to Neptune after a long struggle.

Several times the wind appeared to begin its shift, only to return to its original direction and then strengthen further. We were at the point where we didn't need any further easting and the wind and waves were so bad that we changed strategy from making progress to just waiting out the shift. We aimed Footprint into the wind and allowed her to slow so that she was forereaching at about 1 1/2 knots to the East-southeast while pointed North-northeast. The motion became much more comfortable for the off-watch although the watches became pretty dull with nothing other to to than monitor the drift and look for traffic. We eventually got far enough south that our latitude ended up being about 50 miles South of the dock we left in Portsmouth. I was starting to become concerned that the extra distance was going to keep me from making it to work on time. The problem was that with the strong North wind, we wouldn't even be able to abort and return to Portsmouth until the wind shifted to the south anyway, at which point the wind would be favorable to continue to Rhode Island.

Finally, on the evening of the second day, the wind started decreasing from the 25 - 30 knot range of the past 2 days to a much more gentle 15 knots, although still from the North-northeast. Maryanne shook out one reef and then another and started moving us East-northeast. We passed off the edge of the continental shelf and went from 300 feet of water to 7000. The waves spread out significantly and for the first time since we left, we started to get our appetites back. Our course was still too far east to intersect North America but at least we weren't going south anymore.

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