I write this email from my usual spot at the navigation table of Gryphon Solo, where I have been for the last three days doing a solo delivery of the boat from Bermuda to Newport. To pick up where we left off, the boat was "first to finish" in the Charleston to Bermuda (C2B) race, as the crew did a great job of navigating through some tricky light winds, as I attended to a family matter at home. I flew down to Bermuda on Friday in order to get the boat ready for the trip back, and to attend the C2B awards ceremony on Saturday night. The prize-giving event at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club was an upbeat gathering, as racers celebrated safely sailing the 770 miles from Charleston to Bermuda with multiple "Dark and Stormy" cocktails provided courtesy of race sponsor Gosling Rum. After the awards, the last boat in the fleet that had still not finished, finally arrived at the dock and the whole party moved down to the boat to congratulate the tired, but satisfied crew members who had been at sea for 8 days.
On Sunday morning, I hit the road early as it takes about four hours to motor sail from Hamilton harbor around the island inside the reef to exit at St. Georges. There are always some butterflies as you head for the open ocean solo, but I felt confident in the boat and hoped the weather would cooperate. The first afternoon and evening provided some wonderful sailing in warm north easterly winds, but the wind machine turned off and I motored along at 4.5 knots with our miniature Yanmar diesel engine for about 16 hours. The breeze finally returned Monday morning and propelled us down the track towards the Gulf Stream, which is about at the halfway point. As is the usual protocol for entry into the Stream, I was initiated with a violent rain squall and strong winds that had me leaping up to the cockpit to turn the boat downhill as I was drenched by the rain. You have to keep your guard up in the Gulf Stream as this "river through the ocean" creates its own weather patterns and usually does not let one through without trial. The winds did steadily increase Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning until I was crashing along in the dark with two reefs in the main and the staysail, with the forward half of the boat consistently covered in blue water. The problem was that the wind direction was counter to the current direction, causing the seas to become short and breaking and making the sailing very wet and lumpy. The solace was that there was a lot of wind so the discomfort was relatively short-lived as we punched through the northern wall this morning and into calmer seas.
So, the plan from here is to try to make it into Newport by tomorrow night in order to start getting prepared for the Bermuda 1-2 race which begins on Saturday June 9th. Having already completed a 2,000 mile circumnavigation from Newport to Charleston to Bermuda to Newport, we should be fully ready for the race, however the "fixit" list is pretty long and it will be a scramble to get everything done in the coming week. If anyone is interested in coming to Newport to watch the start of the B 1-2 next Saturday, please stop by to see us at Newport Shipyard in the morning and then head for Ft. Adams or Castle Hill to watch the fleet of solo sailors sail by. We will be in touch prior to the start.