Damn we missed St Patrick’s day and all the green beer we don't drink. lol
We had to motor sail all the way to Mackie Shoal. It was into the wind and against the current we were making a solid 3 knts at full throttle. Once we cleared Mackie and having fed Mercury WAY TOO MUCH fuel. We were able to finally sail. It was close hauled and not on the little red line but we were sailing and making headway. During the long leg of the first tack I could actually evaluate the auto pilot...
It is 100 times better than no autopilot and 100 times worse than steering yourself.
Depending on the size of the waves, the angle of attack, and the angle of the wind it can be a savior or an aggravation. On a reach like crossing the Gulf Stream the little “s” deviations are all acceptable as the wind keeps the sails full and life is good. But when close hauled in 3+ footers the little “s” deviation becomes a big “S” deviation. I watched as the autopilot struggled to keep us pointed where I wanted to go. It would wonder up to 30 degrees! Also using the self tack mode across the bank it was having issues. First it would over tack then compensate by over adjusting and back filling the head sail. But it is better than no autopilot. I just have to work around it's short comings. Think Wind Vane!
The North West Chanel and getting from the Bahama Bank to the Tongue of the Ocean was not very eventful even with the outgoing tide. Just keep in mind the real chop is not until after the way point in deeper water. The plan was to take the best sailing option at this point.
It was Morgan's Bluff on a close reach. The sail was good until a black cloud formed and the seas hit 6-7 feet about 5 miles before the Morgan way point. As the cloud passed the waves dropped in size and the white caps got fewer. Then with a mile or so to go it was building again. So what to do? Stay out and wait for the lesser winds and waves or ride it in. This question ran through my mind a thousand times before I finally made the decision to enter the channel. The trip in was much easier than I had expected. The channel had less than ½ of the charted markers but enough to know where things were. We were able to enter the channel and make it all the way to the anchorage under SAIL. This was a triumphant moment of achievement for our crew.