It seems hard to believe, but we are just 6 days short of having spent 6 months in the islands and now we are about to point north. We had been hoping to make Cape Breton by the end of the month, but tropical storm Ana is definitely making the timing rather challenging. We knew about the prospect of the storm well over a week ago, and had to stay here. The winds prior to the storm between Marsh Harbour and North Carolina were light northerly winds and reminded me of the last time I sailed that leg aboard Compass Rose X. The light winds were attributed to a big slow moving high pressure system, so there was no prospect of them being stronger and would have left us in the path of the storm if we had any issues had we attempted the trip.
So, now we are going to sail straight towards the tropical storm. Never thought I would have been doing that when we originally set off, but we have a good weather window now to sail to North Carolina and Ana is supposed to be headed out to sea before we will get there. And for those that think we are nuts, we are using professional weather routing advice for this, so we have access to better data than is available online. The biggest frustration is that a pair of fronts are due to come of the coast behind Ana, which would be around the time we could otherwise be sailing past the infamous Cape Hatteras towards the Cheasapeake Bay. The frustration here is that the time to sail past in good weather would add about a day and a half to the trip with the alternative being the ICW with a minimum of 4 long days of mostly motoring to reach Norfolk.
So here is our plan. We are going to sail slightly east of a due north heading for a day or so then alter course a few degrees to the west. Why start east when the coast is to the west? Well, the gulf stream is an interesting beast, and when you look at the image of the gulf stream you can see there a numerous areas of counter currents. If we head straight to our destination we will be battling a current against us for probably 2 days, where our intended route will add a couple miles over the entire journey but should provide a current boost that will more than make up for it. From there, we will get the latest weather data on how Ana is moving out to sea and what will be left behind in her wake. Based on the current forecast it looks like we will enter the gulf stream and cross it headed for Moorehead City, NC and resign ourselves to a few days in the ditch (Intra-Coastal Waterway for the non-sailors who follow).
So why the big rush to get north so quickly? Well, we have a slip for the summer waiting for us in Arichat, which after 7 nights on a dock in 6 months will be a pleasant change (although we will still be taking extended time off the dock to tour the Bras D’or Lakes). We also have a wedding in the family the first weekend of June in Ontario, so if we get the boat to it’s summer destination we can enjoy an extended visit with family and friends, rather than rushing back to the boat to minimize paying transient dockage and then trying to figure out a second trip home to visit. Plus, we would like to get our car from Ontario to Nova Scotia so we have a set of wheels for the summer to open the possibility to some road trips to bring some balance to our life as many places worth seeing are beyond a mile inland from shore.