A Dark and Stormy Night

  • Sept 9
  • Day 10
  • Noon Position: N40 50 9 W145 32 2
  • Course/Speed: WxS6
  • Wind: NW 17-25
  • Bar: 1017.5
  • Sail: #2 genoa, 3 reefs; main, 3 reefs; close reaching.
  • Noon miles: 76
  • Total Miles: 1267
  • Average Miles/Day: 127

Missed a report last night due to working the boat. Both Harmon and I were up middle hours due to winds increasing from 8 to 25-30 in the span of about an hour. It was forecasted, this shift, but we’d otherwise had such a slow afternoon, that it was difficult to believe the prophecy.

Midnight. Harmon had just gone off watch. All plain sail taking winds that had been 8 – 10 from the SW for hours. Still groggy from my own nap, I watched the velocity climb and then dip and then climb again, all while veering northward. Our course described a lazy curve from NW to NE. At 15 knots I thought it time to reef, but didn’t wish to wake my crewmate for a wind that might soon die. 

Then before I could blink, winds were 20. I called Harmon. By the time he was suited and on deck, they were 25.

Granted this is not a great deal of wind for a boat that can run off, but recall that our tacks are all reaching; our wind angles have been 40 to 60 degrees apparent for much of the last ten days; higher if we can make them so.  

A sky full of cloud, so the night was dark as pitch. I could hear the waves but not see them.

Smart enough I had been to don a foulie jacket but not the lowers as the decks had been dry. But just as I moved forward to the mast, Mo ducked her bow and flung an ocean of black water that nearly knocked me to the deck. Down my front it flowed. Then the rain began. A heavy, engulfing, warm rain. My glasses were soon reflecting a kaleidoscope of flashlight and night and boat, but I couldn’t see where I was. Glasses were abandoned. 

While cranking up the reefed main, water poured onto my head from the bow-ward end of the cradle cover, enough volume to rinse a shampoo lathered head, which mine was not. Later when cranking in the jib I was similarly positioned under the aft of the cradle cover and received a similar rinse. The entirety of this flow poured into foulies. With the result that by the time sails were reefed, I was soaked through. Not cold though. Water temps are still in the 70s.  

By 2am, two reefs were not enough; in the pit of my stomach I could feel Mo was still pressed and winds continued to build. Finally we opted to down the main altogether and ride out the night under a heavily reefed jib. Mo rolled and flopped like a beached fish but was otherwise comfortable, and better yet, safe. 

With the day we added back the main and are making good westing. Breakfast: oats followed by brownies Harmon backed the night before. It could be that with this blast we have escaped the high pressure zone. The next day or so will tell. 

Tracker. Harmon’s Blog.

2 Comments on “A Dark and Stormy Night

  1. I don’t understand with all the rocking and rolling you couldn’t have at least donated a few minutes to an update – you don’t really have much to do at sea – ha, ha. As for glasses just wait a few years till you get cataracts and then they give you new lenses and hurrah no more glasses. Keep plugging away….

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