Rick and Julie Palm

Boat: Altair

Yee-haw! What a terrific way to finish up the passage. On the last day of this year’s Caribbean 1500, we completed a 200.6 mile day from noon to noon. For a boat like ours, a 200 mile day is the equivalent of a four-minute mile (in 1975). We charged along under blue skies and puffy white clouds going 8-10 knots, beam reaching in 18-20 knots of wind. It seems that every time we do the Caribbean 1500 passage, we get a day like this as we near the islands. Makes you forget any discomfort that may have happened in the days before.

At the beginning of the trip, we had a rockin’ and rollin’ ride through the Gulf Stream the first night. Big rolling seas and swells mixed with a few squalls. Wind was 30-35 knots, so we were very content to run under our genoa alone with no main. The next morning, as we left the Gulf Stream, we put up our wing-on-wing rig with the two front sails; still no main…it’s the equivalent of front-wheel drive on a sailboat. Probably not the way to win a race, but it’s comfortable and very balanced for the autopilot. We all caught up on sleep and, more importantly, caught a mahi-mahi for dinner.

The seas settled, the white caps disappeared and we charged along at 8 knot on a beam reach all day long. The blue sky with its puffy white clouds cast its reflection to create that blue-purple color of the deep ocean water. Flying fish were everywhere including one that managed to board Lady. No sea mammals or tropic birds yet. We’re continued to discard clothing as the air and the water warm up. We were down to long-sleeved shirts and jeans, but shorts and tee shirts were the norm by the third day.

At night the moon was full at first and then waned to a half by our last day out, giving the world around us a silvery glow. A few of the brighter constellations were clearly visible and our old friend Orion was positioned in his familiar place between the second and third spreaders, leading us to the Caribbean.

There is something very liberating about sailing in the middle of the ocean for days at a time.

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