A Shipping Lane

April 5, 2019

Day 183

Noon Position: 34 56S  30 00W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NExE 5

Wind(t/tws): NWxN 8

Sea(t/ft): NW 2

Sky: Altcum becoming cirrus with cum as a front approaches.

10ths Cloud Cover: 5

Bar(mb): 1017, falling slowly

Cabin Temp(f): 75

Water Temp(f): 70

Relative Humidity(%): 84

Sail: Big genoa and main, close hauled on port

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 121

Miles since departure: 24,996

Avg. Miles/Day: 137

Leg North Days: 16

Leg North Miles: 2,046

Avg. Miles/Day: 128

We just can’t shake off slow days. On four of the last six, we’ve logged fewer than 127 miles in 24 hours, and those two exceptions were less than our average of 137 miles a day. I must refrain from complaining, however, as we’ve experienced a steady westerly with no calms at all since Cape Horn, but I’m beginning to forget what it was like to go fast.

Right now: 8 knots of wind; the big genoa and main up and the cover down to catch a bit more breeze, and all we can muster is 4.5 knots of speed. Nary a white cap to be seen.

On the positive side, it is warm. I’m in a t-shirt. Today I washed my head in the cockpit and without heating the water. Took it straight from the sea. Been months since the water has been warm enough for that.

Another first: hatches OPEN. Laundry (not clean, still dirty, still wet from action in the Roaring Forties) out to dry, but it remains too humid for this. Clothes come back below as heavy and damp as they were when laid out.

We crossed the latitude of 35S today and our first distinct shipping lane.

At 10:30AM, three bulk carriers came onto the chart plotter screen in a loose convoy headed due west and riding the 35S line. The BULK POLAND, MEDI KAZAHAYA, and the MIMOSA, all bound for Recalada, which I presume is around Rio de la Plata. All were making the bulk carrier’s signature speed, 12.6 knots.

Our intercept was such that the middle of the three, the MEDI, had to alter course for Mo by north three degrees, and even then, she passed within a mile. I sat on deck watching her slow maneuver and wondering at the sequence of events aboard the MEDI. Who on the bridge first reported the AIS target; who gave the order to alter course; who pushed the button on the autopilot that would engage the giant hydraulic ram to turn the rudder that would gently ease these many tons of steel three degrees to the north; who made note of these actions in the log? Was it all the same person?

I could have altered course by pulling one of Monte’s a strings, and certainly that would have been the polite thing to do, but I’d spent the last hour balancing sail and tiller in these zephyrs. And we all had bags of sea room. And I was curious …

The MEDI never rang as she passed. With binoculars, I could see that no one came out to the fly bridge to inspect the little, gray mosquito off to port. She made up the three degrees before going over the horizon. A clean, smart-looking ship. I was pleased we had crossed paths.

Two hours later, two more bulk carriers outbound on the 35S line and headed for Singapore.

4 Comments on “A Shipping Lane

  1. Goodness. Randall, if I had been the mate who spotted you, I would have called on the VHF and offered anything you may have needed, water, fuel, fresh bananas, anything to be friendly and be able to get a close up of a tiny yacht at sea!!!!!! Times have changed I guess!! On my honeymoon passage from Fort Lauderdale to England in 1972, Andy and I were mid Atlantic aboard our 30 foot wood sloop, CARRONADE,bound for Falmouth, England. In those days there were NO ELECTRONICS whatsoever. A huge freighter came over the horizon. As it came nearer to us it changed course dramatically to cross our bow!!! We were terrified!. Imagine our feelings when as it passed so close by, and we saw a man come out of the pilot house and threw a bottle at us!!! As we closed with the bottle and were sailing past it, we saw a note inside, so excited we gybed around and picked it up. By this time the ship was a few miles away! Inside the bottle on a heavily gin scented piece of yellowish paper was written, and I quote, “”Norse Variant of Oslo LNFL From Emden To New Orleans
    Pos at 2200 GMT June 3, N 33′ 55″ V 59’02” Master J. Marseen” I just love life at sea!

  2. Randall, please tell me what key words I need to find out what the heck these instruments are that tell you the name of ships and how they work!!??

  3. As a deck officer in the merchant marine for 27 years I can tell you in answer to your question, “was it all the same person ?”, the answer would be most likely yes.

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