We checked the weather one last time, had one last coffee at Matenka and made the decision: today was our weather window. We went ahead with all the last preparations: made a couple of phone calls to our parents, stowed the dinghy on deck, filled up on water and diesel and then we were off!
We expected low winds, but we managed to sail out of the bay against the wind and current. We slowly passed the Statue of Liberty, which has a webcam on which our parents had logged in to watch us sail away. It felt so unreal, waving at Lady Liberty, saying goodbye to civilisation in New York! We got sandwiched by two big tourist boats, of which one almost pushed us into the shallows. That didn’t start off well..
It was already 17:00 when we left, the last things-to-do took a lot of time. While the skyline of New York disappeared from view, Thomas cooked dinner. We had cauliflower (had to go) with bacon (had to go) and potatoes. Thomas and Ben got rid of their beards, leaving Thomas with a beard shaped white patch on his face where the sun never shines.
It was very weird to know that hurricane Chris was passing our bow as we left, with wind up to 115 knots. To be honest, we were all a bit worried about that. What if a low would follow in its path? What if it would leave big swell with no wind (recipe for seasickness!)? Was the decision to leave a good one? We had talked about our ‘way out’: if the remnants of Beryl (the next tropical low) would grow into a storm as well, we would either turn back or sail to Bermuda. The good thing about tropical storms is that they are forecasted a couple of days before it gets dangerous, so we would have time to get out of the way. Also if that means going off-course a lot.
We had been in contact with a routing and weather expert (conveniently also named Chris) who had advised us not to leave on Friday July 5th, and not on Sunday 7th. By Wednesday 11th, he wrote us that the conditions might not be ideal to leave either. We discussed, studied and discussed some more, and trust me we don’t take a decision like this lightly, but we decided it would be best for us to leave. Hurricane Chris would have some good tailwinds, which we could ride towards the Gulf Stream 250 miles to the southeast. If we would wait, we would miss the wind and end up in a windless gap. We don’t want to burn a lot of diesel on the first days of the crossing, because we might need diesel to get out of the way of another weather system!
Once we got out of the bay Sandy Hook, we tacked between the two big busy shipping lanes. We were still heading up wind and the wind was dying down as it got dark. At 22:00 we had to turn on the engine to make some progress, and by midnight the wind had died to 3 knots (gusting up to 8). There were flat sees, little traffic and a fading skyline in the distance. A pleasant boringness set in and we were in for a good night sleep!
Position: 40º 41.32 N 74º02.53 W Miles done: 0 Miles to go towards Cork as the crow flies: 2810 NM Highlight of the day: Sailing past the Statue of Liberty, waving at the webcam for the people at home Drama of the day: Almost being sandwiched by tourist boats in front of the Statue of Liberty