Saturday, February 27, 2010

Guanja, Honduras towards Panama Canal (Day 1)

February 27, 2010 6:40PM CST
Position: 16°04.8 N 084°32.8 W
Course 100° Speed 7.8 knots (partilly furled jib, no main).
Weather: Squally with Westerly winds 22-26 knots
Miles sailed so far today: 80nm
Nautical Miles sailed year to date: 947nm

After a few days waiting for favorable weather to proceed toward Panama (200nm of easting still required before we can turn south) we got lucky break and set sail. Sailing East in the Caribbean is always difficult as the prevailing winds nearly always have a easterly component. Recently, cold fronts with strong North component winds have been sweeping the area every 3-4 days. As these 'Northers' approach the wind often clocks (wind shifts clockwise) from the prevailing NE to E to SE to S to SW to W to NW to 'Norther' and blows hard for about 24 hours. The last 'Norther' we hid out from while in Guanaja peaked in 30's with some boats reporting gusts to the high 40 knot range.

Getting back to the voyage at hand. We departed this AM (February 27 7:30AM)about 30 hours (we think) in front of the next 'Norther' as the winds shifted to the South. The plan being we ride the clocking winds (S, SW, W, NW) winds as we sail quickly east and hopefully make it to the point we can turn South BEFORE the 'Norther' unleashes it's full fury. The good news is that 'Northers' come in varying strengths and this one should be of the milder variety. Special note to our mothers: Relax we wouldn't leave port if we weren't going to be 100% safe.

Thus far the winds are delivering as promised, but the seas are pretty confused (i.e. coming from various directions) due to the rapidly changing wind directions. Confused seas directly translate into both of us feeling seas sick until we get our seas legs in 12-24 hours. Thus, we've alternated lying on the couch all morning and afternoon. This afternoon the wind really began to pipe up from the SW at a steady 22-26 knots True and the seas are getting more organized. Lazy sailing on Jib alone we're making good speed of about 8 knots.

As a side note sailing downwind in an Atlantic 42 catamaran certainly is comfortable. Inside the pilot house you have little sensation of the wind strength with the wind from behind. Just a moment ago we had a squall with the true wind speed hitting a steady 31 knots and the boat speed jumped up to 10.5 knots with surfs to 12.5 knots(on Jib alone). With 30 knots you can hear the wind in the rigging, but inside the pilot house it's all serene with the exception of the water rushing by the hulls and the wind beginning to sing in the rigging. Here I sit in my shorts, no shirt, no shoes and certainly no foul weather gear. Pretty sweet to sail down wind in the Atlantic cats.

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