In the wee small hours of Sunday morning, Cutter Loose is motor sailing south along the Virginia – North Carolina coast in a light northwesterly breeze. Our mission today is to cross the Gulf Stream at its narrowest point in order to minimize the amount of time spent transiting this river of current within the ocean. Ordinarily, we would be concerned about crossing the Stream in wind with a northerly component. But the Stream here flows from southwest to northeast. A light northwest wind does not pose a threat to our crossing today.
We enter the western edge of the Stream at 0730 near Cape Hatteras. There is no mistaking the fact that we have arrived at the front door of the Gulf Stream. The wall of cumulus clouds hovering over the western edge of the Stream forms a curtain through which we pass into this forbidding territory. Heat and humidity are telltale signs that we are in the Stream. The width of the Stream is about 70 miles at this juncture. The current is setting Cutter Loose to the east at 2 knots. It is only a matter of time before we are hit by one of the many squalls that we will encounter during this crossing. Squalls create high winds, heavy rain and confused seas, followed by periods of calm before the passage of the next squall line. The ride becomes quite bouncy, adding time and discomfort to our journey. Bursts of lightning and rumbles of thunder help us to predict the location of the next squall line. We are thankful to exit the Gulf Stream at 11 PM at a point due east of Cape Lookout.