Day 3. Indecision aboard Blue Heron, both from the weather and the crew. We were supposed to be sailing towards Bermuda - and I made it a point to emphasize 'towards' when explaining the route to the gang (an old sailors superstition - you never truly know where you'll end up!). Now were 130 miles northeast of Hatteras and sailing southwest! So much for plans. It wasn't the bananas - we got rid of them at the dock!
After sailing down from West Chester and through the East River and Hell Gate and Manhattan and all that, we got offshore around 3pm on Wednesday, immediately close hauled in an easterly breeze. The wind continually increased and backed slightly. By nightfall we could just lay the course, but it was blowing 25 knots. There was water everywhere, half the crew was sick, and those who weren't couldn't sleep for the awful pounding the boat made every time she fell off a wave. This is my first time sailing a Hallberg Rassey, and I'll say in those conditions you'd be hard pressed for me to wish I were on any other boat (except of course maybe my Swan!) Blue Heron, reefer down, was still making 6-7 knots sailing 35 degrees off the apparent wind, and while she pounded occasionally,it was nothing like the incessant slamming of a flatter bottomed boat. All things considered, the ride was downright comfortable.
Except that it wasn't comfortable at all! It sucked, frankly. We knew it's be less than ideal weather to make a run for Bermuda, but we went anyway. There's a difference between lousy and dangerous weather, and this was the former - forecast headwinds almost all the way to Bermuda, and in the mid-20s. Had we been racing, it'd have been a different story.
But that's precisely the point - we're not racing. We're not even bound by anything other than desire to go to Bermuda at all. This is a shakedown cruise, not so much for the boat (she's been round the world once already), but for her new owners, who have ambitious plans but want to get their feet wet before jumping in head first.
So late yesterday, when the weather was dealing out its worst of the passage and the updated GRIB files showed three more days of the same, we altered course 90 degrees to the right and started talking about the charms of Charleston, our Plan B. It's about the same distance as Bermuda, only downwind. That sounds pretty nice!
And so it goes. Onward and southward.