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Yacht America’s Tour: Fort Lauderdale to Cape Hatteras

It was midmorning when the Yacht America docked in Fort Lauderdale. Although the crew wanted to enjoy a few days on solid ground, the deadline to reach New York was only four days away. Normally, you should plan for a week long voyage, but the Yacht America did not have that luxury.

The crew stayed on land just long enough to clear customs, immigration, and get fuel. The total stop lasted only five hours. The Yacht America disembarked by 2 pm and headed out to sea.

The next twenty-four hours were the most memorable in Captain Troy’s sailing history. It is still the all time twenty-four hour distance record for the Yacht America, traveling 337 miles in just twenty-four hours. The average speed was 14 kts. To achieve these groundbreaking speeds, the crew had to keep the Yacht America in the fastest part of the gulf stream. A significant amount of time was dedicated to looking up the latest NOAA weather information, both satellite and surface temperatures.

Despite these fast speeds, the crew had to endure the hottest weather. In addition, this area of maximum convection also meant there would be thunderstorms and lightning. Captain Troy had never seen lightning so close to the ocean. The clouds were so low, it seemed like the storm was right over the mast. At 2 am, there was so much lightning, it looked liked the middle of the day. Although two large cells passed over the Yacht America, the only mishap was a rip in the foresail. Enduring hail and 40 kt winds, the crew found themselves traveling extremely fast.

As the Yacht America rounded Cape Hatteras, the crew gained a better understanding of why this area was known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The bank is extremely shallow. Although you cannot see land, the depth is only nine feet! Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and the forecast was perfect. This was going to be a simple last leg of the trip.

 

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