'Variable' is the word for the weather on this passage north from Florida to Annapolis. Since departing Friday morning, we've had it all - light downwind sailing, light close reaching, heavy downwind sailing and currently even heavier close reaching, which later today is going to become a dead beat to windward.
We've been angling towards Charleston instead of taking a more direct route towards Hatteras to give the weather a chance to progress. A big low is just squatting east of the infamous cape, and before we can decide which route to take, the weather itself needs to make up its mind.
Last night was a motorboat ride under a brilliant full moon. Daniel noticed lightning far off in the distance, despite the clear sky overhead. Sure enough, by dawn we were closing in on the tail end of the cold front stretching off that Hatteras low. The wind built from the SW first, and we had a fantastic sail under genoa alone. The lightning and the worst of the front had moved east by the time we overtook it, so we lucked out and were able to sneak around to the west of it. The wind's been clocking ever since, and were now close reaching in 20 knots with just a small genoa pulling.
At the latest GRIB download this morning, it looks like another small low is forming on the front, so we'll continue on towards Charleston for the moment and play the wait-and-see game. I expect an update from our friends at WRI today, so that should help with the plans.
Follow our progress on 59-north.com/tracking (and note that the YB Tracker is set to update only every four hours).