A sailing trip from

West Palm Beach, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts in late May 2003



It was a long and stormy Thursday 22 May (Florida rainy-stormy), and Bill called me: “Can you go to Boston in a sailboat ? We are leaving Saturday and going offshore? We can’t take the intracoastal, because the mast is too high on the boat, so we have to go offshore into the gulf current”

Eeeeh. Suure , why not? I just wanted to check the boat out. “So, we will have a life raft, harnesses, EPIRB, but no Single-Side band radio”.

So, I wanted to know, who else were coming, “Well, some guy called Brice has 50000 miles, he will be joining” ... Ok. I ‘ll go for it. “It is a trip for 1100 nautical miles ( 1980 km, or 1240 miles (statutory)).”

Text Box: The idea of sitting 100 miles offshore with no diesel and no wind crossed my mind...

The next day I show up to look at the boat. Bill had mounted a dinghy and its 25 Hp engine on the davits and the pull pulpit and was about to fill the propane tanks for the kitchen. A mechanic was looking at the generator on board.


The plan

“So here is the plan,” Bill goes, “It is about 1100 miles. We will go about 6 knots under engine, and the current will give us another 3.5 knot. That’s 10 knots for maybe 4 days, or 24x4x10 =  960 miles, plus maybe 2 days with 5 knots = 240 miles, so we should make it in 6 days. Maybe, if someone gets sick or we run out of diesel, we will have to go ashore. That will prolong the trip 1˝ day.”

It sounded convincing, except, 6 knots + 3.5 knots for the current? Sounded like expecting ideal conditions all the way? What if the current was shifting further from land? Say, 4.5 knot in average and it would take us 10 days to complete the trip?

I started to suspect that maybe Bill wanted to convince us to go by telling a shorter time.

“So, I figured that the diesel engine will use 1.2 gallon/hour. We have 140 Gallon in the tank and 8 containers with 4 Gallons in each. That’s 152 Gallons or 127 hours or enough for 5 days. So, we will have to sail a little too, although I don’t expect too much wind. Brice and Paula,” both of whom I didn’t know, “will cook, and we would have 100 Gallons of water plus 2 spare 4 Gallon tanks. We should be able to take a shower every 3 days or so.”

The idea of sitting 100 miles offshore with no diesel and no wind crossed my mind shortly. What would you do? Probably preserve power to keep the running lights going.

“For weather”, Bill proclaimed, “the important point is to avoid fronts around the graveyard of boats on the Atlantic coast, Cape Hatteras... Right now there is a gale, but I figured it will clear when we get up there”.

See the map.


Map 1. The red arrows indicate the Gulf current. The black line is our route.


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