This morning the chart plotter was showing an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of times ranging from noon tomorrow until maybe 7:00 in the evening tomorrow.
This is exciting! We're almost there. Except for the small detail of a few hundred miles of see, some winds and some currents of course.
Last night around 10:00 p.m. the wind picked up in earnest and we started close reaching - sailing fast, close to the wind, but not as high upwind as we could go. The prediction is that the Easterly wind we were getting would strengthen slightly but gradually clock to the right, moving from East to Southeast to South South East...and maybe to South.
To be able to sail this (rather than motor into sail-able breeze) we need to reach as far East as possible, past longitude 65 West (roughly as far West as we need to go and a bit), then keep sailing off further South as the wind clocked around.
Now it's lighter than predicted, and already further South. Which means our hope for an early afternoon arrival tomorrow is pretty much toast. ETA's are now showing 9:00 p.m. tomorrow until early a.m. Sunday.
It is a manifestly unsafe thing to pull into a completely unfamiliar harbor after dark. Given that we've never sailed here before, we have no clue what to expect. A new harbor can be disorienting in the day time as you try to find channels, avoid moored and anchored boats, shallows and obstructions. A familiar harbor at night can be strange and dangerous - it is easy to be disoriented by things you normally overlook or don't see. So coming into someplace new? Not something in our "Ways to Sail Safely" handbook.
With sun sets running around 6:00 - 6:30 p.m., we really need to be pulling in no later than around 5:30 p.m. which is unlikely without an significant increase in the wind. We could, I suppose, start the engine and put the hammer down but that's not...necessary. We have plenty of fuel to do it, but at $5.00/gallon we're going to burn $250-$300 worth of fuel to do that.
So instead we will...sort of loaf a bit on the way there. And if looks like we can't avoid arriving in the middle of the night we will "stand off" - park the boat under sail and wait, then leave when the time is right for a dawn arrival.
Which makes today, when I was reaching along at near nine knots with a nice breeze at dawn with a Saturday ETA, maybe one of the longest days of the trip.
Unless, of course we have to "loaf" and "stand off" for much of tomorrow. Cross your fingers for more East wind!
At 11/16/2012 16:39 (utc) our position was 22°06.04'N 065°11.24'W