It has been nine days since we arrived in Hampton. During this period we have endured Hurricane Sandy, prepared Cutter Loose for departure and interacted with other Caribbean 1500 participants through seminars and social gatherings. All of our preparatory work is nearly complete.
Our crew of two has now joined us aboard Cutter Loose. Ed lives in the Chicago area. He has completed eight prior Caribbean 1500 voyages and 27 Chicago to Mackinaw races. Pete lives in nearby Virginia Beach. He has participated in five prior Caribbean 1500 voyages, three of which have been in the company of Ed. Ed and Pete are quite congenial and helpful. We are a happy boat.
At the 11 AM skipper’s briefing, we learn about an approaching weather feature that may affect our passage to Tortola. A moderate low pressure center is expected to move east along the Georgia/Florida border on Tuesday. This storm has the potential to become a strong nor’easter as it builds strength and moves north along the coast. Rally organizers encourage all boats to depart Hampton today with the goal of crossing the Gulf Stream as soon as possible before this storm materializes. Rally organizers abandon the idea of a racing start off of Fort Monroe. Instead, the rally will begin with a staggered start. Each boat decides for itself when to leave. Some boats are not quite ready to leave today. Their options will become more limited with each passing day.
Cutter Loose is officially underway from her slip at Hampton Public Piers at 2:30 PM on Saturday. At 4:15 PM, we pass over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and head out to sea. With light winds from the north, the sea state is quite calm. Soon, Cape Henry passes on our starboard beam as we set a course just east of Cape Hatteras where we will enter the Gulf Stream at its narrowest point.
It is a quiet night on the ocean. The barometer is rising. Traffic is minimal and the seas are calm. At sunset, we can see six Caribbean 1500 boats within a few miles of our position. After dinner in the cockpit, we settle into the watch system. It feels good to be underway, despite the fact that the potential development of a nor’easter creates a sense of uneasiness and our departure felt somewhat rushed. The reality of a November passage in the North Atlantic includes a threat of tropical weather systems and the pattern of cold fronts exiting the east coast every few days. It is preferable to leave earlier than expected rather than waiting day after day for improved conditions.