Sailing upstream against the Labrador Current
In my last post, I mentioned that the offshore area near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina was known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“, and that many of the shipwrecks that occurred in the area were the result of wild weather and heavy seas stirred up by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream streaming north and hitting the cool, southbound waters of the Labrador Current. Sadly, this means that as I proceed north from Cape Hatteras, I may find myself bucking the Labrador Current, which runs a bit over 1 mph (1.6 kph) in places. That doesn't sound like much, but Magic Moments top speed is only about 6 mph, and any hindrance can be significant. I don't have to be out in the current for most of the trip though – if I'm content to motor along in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW – also known as “the ditch”) for most of the way. Decisions, decisions…
Regardless of how I proceed (staying inside the ICW or going outside along the coast), the cool water of the Labrador Current will mean the amount of fog will increase as I head further north – just another of life's little challenges. Sticking with the worst case scenario, I have the following:
- The route takes me from Cape Hatteras, NC to Atlantic City, NJ within the ICW – a total distance of about 375 miles (604 km). I should be arriving in Atlantic City toward the end of May. If you recall from part 1 of my itinerary, I'd like to be off the Gulf and east coast by the time hurricane season begins in June – so I'll be cutting that part of my schedule a little close. It's only another 100 miles to the shelter of the Hudson River though, so I should be in reasonably good shape. If you're reading this and haven't seen the earlier parts of the trip, you can also take a moment and read through part 2 and part 3 of the trip.
- I'll continue along the ICW from Atlantic City, NJ to Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, then head outside along the coast and across the bay, entering the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. I'll follow the Erie Canal north to a point just a little north of Albany, NY, then continue west along the canal to Utica, NY – a total distance of 366 miles (or 589 km), arriving near the end of June. I will actually have completed the loop near Bronson, NY, shown below where the short yellow segment of the trip hits my earlier red segment. Those who travel the Great Loop call themselves “Loopers”, and refer to completing the loop as crossing their own wake.
- Even though the loop will be complete at Bronson, NY, I won't be home until I've returned to the west end of Lake Erie. The remaining distance from Utica, NY back home is 513 miles, and I should be securing the anchor lines near the end of July, 2016 – 15 months and 6,737 miles after leaving.
That's the plan – now we'll see how it plays out.