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Speed

Posted by on March 29, 2013

We left our anchorage outside of Royal Island Harbour on Friday, March 15th at 6:00 a.m. (Luckily, we had no need to “beware the ides of March.”) When we arrived in Charleston, SC to clear Customs it was 10:30 a.m. on March 18th. According to our Spot track we had logged 537 nautical miles in that 75.5 hours – an average of 7.1 knots! 

Now, I understand you might be confused about why we’re excited. We often talk about hitting speeds over 8 knots, or sailing along at 7+ for a few hours in good wind. But to maintain that speed for 3 days was unheard of for us! Most offshore monohull cruisers would say that when planning a passage they assume they’ll travel 150 nm every 24 hours. That 150 nm is an easy number to remember and comes out to an average of 6.25 knots. (And to be truthful, we rarely average that fast if we’re on a multi-day passage.) On the other hand, offshore monohull racers approach 600 nm in a day in the Volvo Ocean Race, so everything is relative.

It’s a give and take, we want calm weather, good winds, a comfortable sea state, and a stable boat. That typically means that we’ll sacrifice speed for boat stability while underway. In addition, our weather window is typically picked to provide a safe sail, not necessarily a fast one. But, Sunday morning on the 17th from midnight till 3:30 a.m. I was on watch and we were running in the Gulf Stream with 30 knots of wind singing through the rigging. The seas were calm, and I had a double reef in the poled out genoa as we regularly topped 11.5 knots! The Spot track states that we covered 31.3 nm in that 3.5 hours, an average of 8.94 knots!

When we tied up in Beaufort, NC on Friday afternoon after several days in the ICW, we realized we had left the Bahamas one week earlier. It was great to make that fast trip, but the temperature difference was a little shocking to our systems. Now that JV has had a week of rest here, we hope that it’s warmer as we head north again.

Our 537 nm path shown in green

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