It's June 17, 2016, at around 0800. Today is supposed to be the start of the biennial Newport-Bermuda Race. However, no later than 1100, the OA is scheduled to make a decision whether to delay the official start on account of some gnarly weather that is expected to hit the fleet while in the Gulf Stream. Gnarly being sustained winds of 35 knots with puffs into the 40s, and potentially into the 50s and 60s in squalls. A low is expected to park right over rhumb.
More impactful than the breeze is the sea-state. The expected TWD (true wind direction) for this breeze is E-NE, which means wind against current in the Stream. The result is monstrous, steep, square, breaking waves--problematic yet doable for a heavy displacement boat; problematic and downright insane for a 2,500 lb. Mini Transat (to the say the least). Yes, these boats are designed and built to cross oceans. But even official Classe Mini events are delayed in big breeze--most notably the 2013 Mini Transat, when the OA delayed the race because of 50 knots and 4 meter waves off Cape Finisterre.
We have no intention of putting our lives at risk by sailing into the Gulf Stream with the potential for 40-60 knots wind against current. My 6-year-old daughter says to me yesterday, "Daddy...I hear some bad weather is coming. Maybe you should just drive home." I'm not ruling that out. But right now, we are standing by. Gear is offloaded from the Jeep and into the boat, food and water is organized and stowed, precious cargo has been loaded, and we have enjoyed Gosling's rum at Newport Shipyard in 100% approved, top choice swag designed by dear ol' dad.
The decision to stand-by is obvious. Over the past few days, I have talked weather with sailors who, collectively, have hundreds of years of experience sailing offshore, and interpreting weather models--folks like Rob Windsor, Rich du Moulin, Clay Burkhalter, Chad Corning, and Lawrence Cutler. Here are some choice quotes:
Lawrence: "Josh. With all due respect. If you leave on Friday, you're a f***in' idiot."
Clay: "Josh. 50 knots in the Gulf Stream will be...challenging. Maybe head down there. Dip your toe in, and bail out if need be."
Rob: "I'd go...but I'm an idiot." [Note: Rob is not an idiot, but any stretch of the imagination.]
Rich: [stares me down with an expression that I took to mean what Lawrence told me to my face].
The camaraderie up here in Newport, like the sunsets, is inspiring.