America!

We arrived in West Palm Beach Florida where we were planning on anchor for about 2 days while I visited a very elderly friend there. However, the weather closed in and we ended up stuck there for 8 days in constant rain. Very hot and humid and apart from seeing old friends and making a few lovely new ones we were rather stuck as everything is so spread out that one really needed a car to get about but as we were anchored we didn’t have anywhere to leave a rental car so I took my bike ashore in the dinghy to visit my friend or do a bit of food shopping. We finally got away on Saturday last but the weather had turned from gale force winds off Cape Hatteras to nothing and we motored for 3 of the 5 days it took us to get up to New Jersey. We were heading straight for New York but a fuel stop was required so we pulled into Cape May, New Jersey and what a pleasant surprise. It is the oldest seaside resort in the USA and the beautiful old victorian buildings are so well preserved.

The trip up was uneventful apart from seeing a pod of about 12 pilot whales and being buzzed by an airforce jet about 3 times over 2 days. That was a very amusing episode. I was off watch and sleeping when this huge double bang went off above the boat. We thought the rig had fallen over! It was a fighter jet going through the sound barrier above our heads. I think he was just waking us up because then he did a low pass and wiggled his wings while we waved from the deck. In the afternoon he was back without the bang this time but put on a great airshow for us with loops and flying upside down, really showing off. He would fly away and then come down very low over the sea and come straight toward us at about 40 metres altitude and scream past and the noise!!!! All very exciting.

The most interesting thing about the trip, from an oceanographic point of view, was how the Gulf Stream affects the climate. We travelled up the east coast in 'the stream' which is very deep and the water temperature is about 29 degrees as it originates in the Gulf of Mexico and is much warmer than the surrounding water. Thats how you know you are in 'the stream' by the increase in your speed (3 knots northbound) and the water temp. At Cape Hatteras, which is about half way up the east coast ‘the stream’ flows off shore and across the Atlantic. So once you round Cape Hatteras and out of the stream the water temp. drops about 7 degrees and suddenly you go from summer heat and hot nights to autumn. Literally we went from wearing shorts and t shirt while on night watch to putting on winter woollies in a period of about 4 hours!

So when the fog has lifted today we will take Woofer into the marina as a treat to wash her down and do the engineering work that needs to be done and then if the weather is good we will make the 100 mile journey up the coast to New York on Monday.

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