A Green Flash – Circumnavigation – Day 04

Saturday’s sunset was a unique one. A much talked about natural phenomenon on the water is called the “Green Flash.” This happens when the sun sets into the sea, when the air at sea level is super saturated with moisture, which causes a refraction of the light and for an instant as the sun drops into the sea, it flashes emerald green. I’ve seen this once before in my life, and tonight I saw it again. I looked out at the sun and noticed it had a special brightness to it as it got close to the water. I grabbed for my camera and took a video of the final moment, and though it’s not so obvious in the video as it was in person, here’s what it looks like. Even if it just looks to you like another sunset, it was still an especially beautiful one.

A “Green Flash” (34 18.06 N, 66 33.96 W)

As we head south on a course for Bermuda, a few noticeable changes occur. First of all, you pass through the Gulf Stream. Now, if you were following along during the Atlantic Cup, we talked a lot about the Gulf Stream then. It is essentially a river of warm water that flows up along the eastern seaboard of the United States. (There’s an earlier Explorer Guide that looks at the Gulf Stream right here!)

Gulf StreamIt’s interesting when you enter it or cross it as a number of things happen. First of all, everything gets warmer … the water gets warmer and so does the air. Next you see things like flying fish and Sargasso grass – things that ancient navigators used to help them know where they were in the world. Another thing about pushing further south is I’ve seen more ship traffic today. There were five ships in the last day and one close enough that I had to slow down to let him pass so we wouldn’t collide! These ships leave from the large, warm water ports of the southern U.S. headed around the world. Though at times I think I’m the only one out here, that’s never the case.

Presently, Bodacious Dream and I are about 110 miles NE of Bermuda. The weather has been very calm all day with very little wind to fill our sails – most of it less than 5 knots and coming from directly behind us. So, I’ve been motoring with the sails up and calculating how much fuel I’m going to needed to make Bermuda before sunset on Sunday. This is where knowing some math really comes in handy.

Dave in the OfficeSitting in my onboard “office.” (34 18.06 N, 66 33.96 W)

Let me share my current math problem as an example.

As I write this, it’s 23:00 hours on Saturday with 110 miles to go to get to Bermuda. The sun sets at about 18:00 hours on Sunday, so I have 19 hours to get to Bermuda before the sun sets and I can still see my way into an unfamiliar harbor. Now, Bermuda is a large coral island so there are many reefs and channels to be followed making it complicated and difficult to navigate at night … especially when alone. So prudent seamanship would have me enter the harbor during daylight hours.

Fuel CansSo, back to the math … 110 miles divided by 19 hours is about 5 and ¾ miles per hour. If I can sail at 4 miles per hour with the light wind, and use the engine to boost my speed up to 6 miles per hour, I should be able to make it in time. It takes 2200 RPMs (revolutions per minute) to have enough boost to make 6 knots, and at 2200 RPMs, I burn about 6/10ths of a gallon an hour of diesel fuel. I have 10 gallons left. Will I make it? Or will I have to stop using the engine and slow down and look to arrive on Monday morning? I’d like to be in on Sunday, so I can be ready to get some answers to my boat problems first thing on Monday. I’ll let you work on that one for a bit, while I go coax the wind gods into giving me stronger winds in my sails.

f you’re hungry enough, it’s good.

So, with all this happening, it’s now late and I’m hungry … so I’m making up a freeze-dried mix of Chicken Fajitas mix for dinner. (Let’s just say, no one ever did a solo circumnavigation because of the cuisine.) Anyway, typically I’d put this in a tortilla … but in the rush, I forgot to buy any of those, so maybe that’s on my list for Bermuda too!

More soon,

– Dave and Bodacious Dream
33 06.7491 N,  065 38.6709 W  as of 08:22 EST