Less than 50 miles now to the enchanted island of Bermuda. I can't wait to make the cry of "Land Ho" upon the first glimpse of land and to catch that first smell of earth and blossoming flowers that is distinctively Bermuda. I have raced here now probably nine times so this is familiar territory but the excitement of making landfall in such a beautiful place after a 650 mile offshore passage never loses it magic. If I finish around 10:00 am this morning as I expect, this will be my fastest passage to date at about 71 hours, for an average speed of about nine knots. Not bad given that the first day was spent in light air at a five knot average speed, so you can see we've been smokin' since then!
The last 24 hours have been filled with a lot of navigating and second-guessing myself for getting so far to the West. As I came through the Gulf Stream, if I could do it over again, I would have tried very hard to get back to the east of the rhumb line in order to set myself up better for the long reach into the finish. As is was, the northwest breeze kept me pinned on the west side. I had little choice but to keep going as the wind backed into the northwest. I kept going fast, which is good, but I ended up sailing a lot of extra miles, probably at least 60. Finally I jibed for the finish line at about 4:00 PM yesterday.
It was a beautiful reach in with sunny skies and boat speed averaging in the 12 to 14 knot range. However, I had been feeling that the boat felt sluggish. I discovered during a boat inspection tour that both aft water ballast tanks were full and the aft compartment was flooded as well. Those are a lot of pounds to be carrying when you don't want to. It is very puzzling how the port scoop was in the down position, allowing water to enter as I know I did not do it. Gremlins? Saboteurs? I guess we'll never know, but it took me about an hour of messy pumping into a bucket and then sponging all the water out. No job too big or too small when you're on your own.
So it looks like a second place finish in my class will be my position as my rival Kip Stone on Artforms sailed a tactically perfect race and will probably finish five or six hours ahead of me. I do hope he saves me a Dark and Stormy. I am actually very pleased just to be racing, and finishing , given that we had only two days of sailing before the start due to technical problems with the boat. Also, with my right knee only two and a half months post ACL replacement surgery, I was not sure I would be up to the test. As long as I wear the brace and step carefully, the knee seems to be just fine, albeit a bit sore ( I am a big fan of Advil at my advanced age!). On to the finish line!!
Next report, hopefully, from the the St. George's Dinghy Club!!