The weather gave PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II a very big boost over the last 24 hours. After all kinds of plotting of positions and comparing yesterday’s fleet positions with today’s, PRIDE turned in the longest distance advanced in 24 hours of 194 nautical miles. The next longest was PETER VON DANZIG at 182 nautical miles. Longest distance advanced in 24 hours does not establish a fleet standing…but it sure can help. PRIDE is currently…and probably only for a short time…1st in Class and 1st in Fleet having advanced from yesterday’s 2nd in Class and 3rd in Fleet.
The sail was especially good last night. A broad reach with all sail including the studding sail (pronounced stuns’l by sailors). Since around mid-morning today the weather has changed to lighter winds that have veered further ahead. The studding sail has been struck, but PRIDE is still making decent speed.
Looking down the “road”, these last two days are likely to go down with the fleet as the best days of all for this race. The future, starting tomorrow, promises a significant slog to windward toward the finish. This will give the more weatherly vessels the chance to get ahead and/or have their handicap get ahead of the vessels that are actually out in front. That is the simple element of the promised future. The not so simple element is the Gulf Stream…a significant ocean “river” of current rushing out of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea up through the gap between the Bahamas and Florida. That current can be 4 knots in strength pushing north and east along the continental shelf of the American East Coast. In the vicinity of Charleston it can be 100 nautical miles wide. A vessel sailing hard on the port tack against a southwest breeze could inter the current with a “safe” sailable course to Charleston and find themselves many miles north of their original lay line by the time they sail out of the Gulf Stream. Assuming the southwest wind is still prevalent, the sail to Charleston will require actually tacking against the southwest wind to get to the finish line. Have any of you readers figured out I am not looking forward to the next couple to three days?
Meanwhile, PRIDE’s crew feel pretty pleased with the sail and the fleet standings. So they should. But I am pretty sure the future conditions sailing close hauled out of Bermuda will be the way of life over the next couple to three days of trying to close the last 400 nautical miles to Charleston…ugh!
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II