Leander Passage from Puerto Rico to Bahamas: Day 1

At 12 Noon on 17 May, Leander is at 21 53 N, 69 32 W, sailing on a broad reach at 6.3 knots. We are on a course of 318 magnetic in 15 knots of wind. The seas are moderate and the sky is mostly clear, with no change in temperature.

We HAVE noticed that the days are getting longer. In Antigua, the sun set at 18:20. It went down at 19:00 last night. It’s a function of three things, I think– we’ve sailed further west in the time zone, we’ve sailed further north in latitude, and the sun is is also moving north as midsummer approaches (don’t you like the name “midsummer” for June 21, rather than “solstice?” It’s much more pleasant to think of that day as being the “middle” of summer (actually, summer is really just starting), then to think about that fact that, as of June 21, the days start getting SHORTER!)

It is nice to make the passage in the company of another boat. We met Lisa and Tripp Presnell in Culebra. Like us, they are sailing with two chidren — Mackie, age 7, and Finn, age 8. They live in South Carolina (Don’t folks from south of the Mason-Dixon line have such a way with names? I had good friend in college named Tripp, from Alabama. And I haven’t met so many “Mackies” or “Finns” up around Boston. Even better, they have a cousin named “Boone,” a direct descendent of one Daniel Boone.) Our children played together wonderfully. Tripp and Lisa, aboard s/v Piper, are also bound for George Town, before heading up the U.S. east coast, like us. We were able to talk on the VHF for the first part of the trip, and now get regular position reports from them, though we are now separated by about 40 miles.

It is pleasant out here. Sima is feeling better, after dealing with 24 hours of a nasty headache. She cannot drink coffee on passage, and caffeine withdrawal knocks her for a loop. She also takes a little bit longer than the rest of us to get used to the seas on each passage. Paul and the kids are mostly up and about without issue, and Sima is getting there too.

Is Mars in Scorpio? I suppose that it is. It shines bright and orange at night time, not far away from “fake Mars,” or “not Mars” or, as its called in Latin, “Antares.” We can see the duller but twinkling orange Antares, which looks like Mars’ little brother, glowing dimly near the bright reddish-orange planet. I’ll take a look tonight, and if the one that I think is Mars has moved against the background of the constellation, we’ll have our answer.

The sailing has been fine. We could go wing-and-wing to get a little bit closer to our course, but it’s such good sailing on a broad reach, that its tough to give up the good speed and comfortable ride. We’ll have to make up for it tomorrow, jibing to the other side of the wind, to get back about 50 miles on the course, but we’ve made up for that in the speed that we have on this course (155 and 165 mile days) that it has made sense to take this approach. Also, the wind, at 13-16 knots, is not quite strong enough to push us through the swell in the same level of relative comfort that we get from taking the wind more on our side.

We are about 150 miles due east of the Turks and Caicos. By tomorrow, we’ll be the same distance west of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. If we pressed and put up more sail (we’ve got a reef in the main), we could maybe maybe get in to George Town by Thursday night, but Friday morning looks more likely.

We traveled 164 miles yesterday, for 319 total, and 390 to go to George Town. And 1,228 to Boston.

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