A Klatch of Albatross
March 23, 2019
Noon Position: 53 30S 61 04W
Course(t)/Speed(kts): NNE 4.5
Wind(t/tws): E 10
Sea(t/ft): E 2
10ths Cloud Cover: 10
Bar(mb): 1017+, rising
Cabin Temp(f): 50
Water Temp(f): 43
Relative Humidity(%): 72
Sail: #1 genoa and main, full, close hauled.
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 84
Miles since departure: 23,242
Avg. Miles/Day: 137
Leg North Days: 3
Leg North Miles: 293
Avg. Miles/Day: 98
What a strange turn of days. To come from the windiest place in the world to a place where the breeze’s only commitment is to a light contrariness! I feel like Scott and his polar party, trapped under an inversion layer that never lets them go.
Mo is close hauled in winds 6 – 10 on the nose and is averaging, at best, 4 knots. Even with the big sails up, there is just enough of a chop to impede her ability to build up a head of steam. Always we are on the verge of making good time. Of course, the heading this wind requires is right at the nearest island.
The only question now is will I have to tack before the Falklands or will the breeze finally be bent by the will of an approaching southern low and go west? With only sixty miles to North Arm, we’ll know by morning.
Last night, Mo and I were included in a moveable klatch hosted by a number of local avian socialites.
It was evening. The slate sky gave way at its margins to a clearing and, for a brief time, a setting sun, orange and warm, at least in appearance. I was on deck trimming the big genoa when I noticed we were in company with five Wandering albatross and four great petrels. There was so little wind, each was having to maintain his altitude with the force of his wings, and still, during the glides, they were grace incarnate.
They circled for some time. Then an albatross landed near Mo. Then another near that one. Then a great petrel joined them. Soon all were down in a group. They seemed not to be saying much, but their chosen proximity suggested a social exchange whose language I did not know. I watched until they were out of sight and then went on about my business.
Five minutes later we were in the company of birds again. More albatross and giant petrels swinging around Mo, ably making use of what minimal swell there was for lift. Then occurred the same landing ritual. Within a few minutes, the birds were on the water top and bunched together near where Mo and I passed.
It took a third instance for me to realize it was the same collection of birds that were rejoining Mo. But by then the sun had set and, apparently, that was the end of social hour. After the third gathering the birds vanished.
There are birds in other oceans, but not so numerous, nor so grand, nor so mysterious as here. These visitors were the first inkling of what we are giving up by exiting the south.