Spirit’s journey has now brought her to the U.S. We arrived a few days ago in Newport, Rhode Island after a 645nm leg from Bermuda. After clearing customs we moved 7 miles up the Narragansett Bay to the Hinckley Boatyard for some warranty work and preparation for summer cruising.
Newport is the East Coast’s sailing nerve center – boats of every shape and size, some of the nation’s finest racing boats, boatyards bustling with activity, and yacht races almost daily – a great place to be.
A day doesn’t go by without learning or experiencing something new and our leg from Bermuda was no different. The first thing we experienced was sailing into a low pressure system with winds coming from one direction, going through the center with no winds, then continuing out the other side with a wind shift from yet another direction. Mother Nature really knows how to mess with people on sailboats.
I now have a better understanding of the Gulf Stream that runs up the East Coast bringing the warm Florida waters, up to 90 degrees, and all kinds of crazy currents. The wind can be blowing from one direction, the current flowing in another and the sea state that can get very confused. Jake was a great teacher for our initiation – picking the right time and course to get across the Gulf Stream the fastest with the least amount of impact from the currents. One of the photos below shows the currents in the area that we were crossing – not sure what it all means other than a little knowledge goes a long way.
As we were approaching Newport, about 30 miles out, a U.S. Coast Guard plane circled Spirit a few times, then a Coast Guard cutter steamed by, then we received a radio call that they were sending a boarding party to inspect the boat. Talk about a new experience. We were just glad we weren’t off the coast of Somalia! When we told the sleeping crew we were being boarded their reaction was this has to be a joke – it wasn’t. As it turned out they were boarding several incoming boats, which makes one feel good about how our coastlines are being protected. We received a “passing grade” and proceeded to Newport.
More later when we begin exploring the New England coast.