2022 Plans and Goals

[Written January 2, 2022] Two big things happened today: the Christmas tree came down in Rhett’s house, and the two of us sat down and seriously discussed the final things we need to do to embark on our 2022 voyaging (hopefully) the week of January 10. I was hoping we could leave sooner but some medical appointments have conspired to keep us put a little longer—I’m scheduled for a double root canal “re-treat” on January 10. I have no idea what exactly what a re-treat is but if it’s anything like the initial root canals, and I’m getting two of them at the same time, I’d take getting pooped by following seas over a root canal any day. However, what’s got to be done has to be done—I don’t relish the thought of being hundreds of miles at sea with a toothache.

With all that being said—assuming the re-treats go well, and we get a good weather window soon after, and the pandemic doesn’t get markedly worse and international borders are sealed—we will be embarking for The Bahamas around January 12. Our plan is to sail from the US directly to the Eastern Bahamian island chain of Eleuthera and the town of Spanish Wells. We’ll explore Eleuthera for a week or two and then prepare to mirror the course that I took in 2020 and sail due east into the Atlantic and arc south to the Virgin Islands. From there, we’ll continue south in the Caribbean and see how far we get!

That sail from The Bahamas to the Virgins is the long one. It’s about 1,000 nautical miles (about 1,200 miles) which will take 10-12 days of nonstop sailing. The longest sail that Rhett has done to date is 600 nautical miles (from Beaufort NC to Hyannis MA). She’s understandably nervous about it so we’ll be doing some negotiating and will be looking for the best weather window possible. However, a weather window gives you some comfort about the first several days of sailing, after 4 days or so its a crapshoot.

Once we’re in the Virgin Islands, the Lesser Antilles (Caribbean islands south of the Virgin Islands) are all daysails or single overnight sails distant from each other. At this point, once we get to the Caribbean and start sailing south, we’re not sure how far we’ll get or when we will turn around, or if we will turn around. for that we’re not sure if we’ll turn around in the spring and get Hazel back to Florida by the start of hurricane season (June), or continue south and store Hazel in the southern Caribbean or maybe South America for the summer and hurricane season. Although it sounds counterintuitive, given the way most hurricanes are spawned off the Western Saharan Desert and travel across the Atlantic and arc to the north, the Southern Caribbean is relatively safe in the summer (hurricane) months. Who knows? We have lots of good options.

[Written the morning of Friday, January 14, 2022] I wrote the above with the best intentions of posting that day. Then, all the last minute prep we discussed on the 2nd got me off my focus.

Long story short, I am setting out single-handed to The Bahamas this morning and Rhett is remaining in Florida to take care of a few important family items.

She’ll plan to fly to The Bahamas soon with her miniature longhair dachshund Sunny and we’ll attempt voyaging with Sunny! Yes, on the boat her name will be “Scuppers the Sea Dog.”

You can keep track of my progress via our satellite tracker: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/HazelJames

Fair winds and following seas (especially to me on my Gulf Stream crossing).

PS: Still working on the Heeling is Healing manuscript. I’m shopping it with agents and publishers but no bites as of yet. To the good, I excerpted a short story from the book entitled “Up the Mast” and it has been accepted to be published in the July issue of SAIL Magazine!

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