With and without
Florida is some eight hundred miles behind us. The United States will always be a very special destination but when it was time to leave everyone on board was ready for the ocean.
We are on our way to Horta, the main city on the island of Faial which is part of the Azores. The trip covers over 2,800 miles in total so each crewmember yearning for a sailing adventure will probably have the time of his and her life. The same counts for our passengers who deliberately opted for a trip of three weeks and for the view of an endless pool of water. This may sound boring to many, to others it is this extensiveness that feels almost mystique. Many of our passengers love a new experience but the sea remains fascinating even to me and even after countless ocean crossings.
The shortest way to Horta for the clipper is not the straight line from Miami to the Azores as suggested by a map. This would not only result in being stranded at The Bahamas but there would also be too much headwind and thus not enough progress for a sailing vessel. We will follow the prevailing winds instead.
In our hemisphere the wind high pressure area is in a clockwise direction. On every ocean there is a trend of high pressure recognizable around 30 degrees latitude. We will try to sail around it clockwise to keep the favorable wind in the sails. Hence, it is very important to get north from Miami to end up above the 30 degrees latitude and from then we will sail to the east. North of this high pressure area we will be passing weather depressions so very familiar to anyone living in The Netherlands. We need the famous westerly winds south of the depression desperately to get to Europe. Unfortunately, the rain and cold of those weather depressions is something we have to take for granted which will not be easy after months of tropical weather.
The bridge is covered with stickers once again. Almost all modern bridge equipment shows GPS data somewhere. If a modern instrument does not have GPS data nowadays it is almost of no use it seems. All those numbers, a result of technique taking over nautical seamanship, are now hidden behind tape. It is not wise of course to actually turn off all GPS related equipment of course – just imagine what may happen…With the idea that the guy behind the green desk will probably overlook our stickers we dare to take the opportunity to navigate as a craft again. Officers and some guests rush outside with a sextant each time there is a little sun in between showers and make all kinds of difficult calculations in a try to get better results than the GPS instruments. I must admit that they do a very good job. Maybe we need to calibrate the GPS equipment for they are often (only) a few miles off.
Captain Clipper Stad Amsterdam