Monitor

Transatlantic: Day 5 [Day 26]

Our speed is back and we continue to clock along at 100+ nautical miles per day! The weather is great and consistent, and we have not had to adjust anything on the boat since we left Bermuda.

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Once we were clear of the last buoy of Bermuda, we set our Monitor Windvane, balanced the sails, and let the boat do the rest! The winds were steady and consistent, and we never had to touch a thing since! Yes, our course might wander a little north or a little less north, but we are generally going in the right direction, and that is all that really matters.

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On the boat, this is the closest thing to a digital chart of our travels that we can see. It is small and basic, and you can see all the messages we send back and forth with family and friends back on shore.

The funny thing is, when we first traveled down the coast of the United States, there were times when we thought we were “very far out to sea” because we couldn’t see land. When you look at this big map of our travels so far, you can see that we never did leave land, but yet we were planning to cross an ocean.

We were young and green, and now, a year later, we are approaching the middle of the Atlantic. At that point, our closest point of land will be ahead of us because we truly are “out to sea”.

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The best part of this voyage is how little we need to do. With the sails balanced, the windsteering keeps us going in a general straight line. The winds are steady and powerful, allowing us to move along at a nice speed constantly. Life seems normal when heeled to port, as we have been on starboard tack since we left Bermuda.

Two Important Items for Ocean Cruising

If you are outfitting a sailboat for blue water cruising, the two most important items that you can add, in my opinion, are:

  1. A drifter
  2. A Monitor Windvane

A drifter is a light air sail cut like a genoa but made out of spinnaker material. This sail will keep you ghosting along on windless days. It even managed to pull us through the doldrums! When choosing your yachts sail wardrobe, be sure to include a drifter (and forget about a spinnaker).

The second important item is the Monitor Windvane. This unit will steer you to a set angle to the wind in all conditions. If the wind shifts, it will change your course to keep your sails trimmed perfectly and prevent them from luffing. While the prospect of changing course might seem bad, when you are offshore it's not a big deal. Your destination is hundreds or thousands of miles away, veering a little to port or starboard for a few hours will not make a difference.

Now, be sure to get a Monitor and not one of the other brands like Hydrovane or Cape Horn. Hydrovane will quickly be overpowered and overwhelmed as the wind builds. Cape Horn works just like a Monitor, but all of the control lines are hidden away making it hard to frequently inspect for chafe.

Now, I can't say which of these two items is more valuable than the other for ocean cruising. Honestly, both items should be carried that way you can move on light days and relax as your yacht sails itself across the ocean with you onboard.