Day 84

Noon Position: 47 26S  10 46E

Course/Speed: E7

Wind: W20

Sail: Twins, two rolls

Bar: 981

Sea: W8

Sky: Overcast

Cabin Temp: 50

Water Temp: 42

Miles last 24-hours: 142 (Another 23-hour day due to setting ship’s clock back.)

Longitude Made Good: 133

Miles since departure: 11,192

In the morning, the working jib woke me. Rattling and banging against the shrouds, it confirmed my bet had been a poor one. Wind had not built overnight. Rather, it had gone to calm, and my decision to run conservatively–jib only–to follow the forecast rather than the hint of an evening breeze already on the wain had cost us miles.

I rose and launched the twins before coffee. Too much day has already been wasted, I thought. But this too was a mistake. Usually I play it slow in the morning, deferring major deck work until the wake-me-up hot drink and, if it’s cold and wet, a hot breakfast. We’re in a hurry, but we’re not racing. Without my usual jolt, lines became tangled and I, confused. The work was slow.

First it drizzled; then it rained. All morning the hefty swell shoved at Mo like a bully, and by way of proclaiming this an insult, she slapped her sails and jerked at lines in their chocks. I was on deck frequently trying to tune out this chafe-making, and each time I came below, I brought with me more wet. Boiling water for another coffee fogged the windows. The ceiling dripped with moisture. The little rug in the pilot house was visibly saturated. I was already cold and it was only 6am.

All the while we made a measly 4 knots.

I had expected another good mileage day. Two in a row! But no. We wallowed.

The swing between confidence and its lack I find difficult to manage. One day we make good miles and I am happy; the next is like today, and I sink. We have so far to go, I think, as many miles back to Cape Horn as we have already come from San Francisco. And in this ocean I feel exposed. A rank novice in a realm that eats novices like candy. So much I don’t know. So many mistakes already made. So so far… Am I like Santiago? Have I gone too far?

But I don’t want confidence or its lack, I think. Both are an annoyance, a distraction. Did you ever want of confidence in the Pacific? No, you just sailed. You did not think.

What I want is to be here, to figure out this groove, to ride that swell, to catch today’s wind in the sails just so. To solve this problem knowing that tomorrow there will be another. To watch that albatross and know that I am privileged to observe his absolute grace. To learn how to survive in this wild place. That’s the dream. That’s the plan.

But one does not simply divorce oneself of emotion overnight.

In the afternoon, a break! Wind has been building. Mo is making time again, wings spread wide. And then like a curtain being drawn, the sky clears. Puffy clouds and blue. I stare up as if seeing something for the first time. The log says this is our fourth short burst of sun since departing Ushuaia twenty-four days ago.

Then it hits me. Sun! I dash below for all the wet things I can lay hands on and spread them in the cockpit. I open hatches. I mop up the floor; wipe the ceiling.

Then I sit on deck with my boots off.

A black-browed albatross plops in the sea next to the boat and watches as we pass.

I am in the heaving cobalt blue southern ocean, and I get to lock eyes with an albatross.

4 Comments on “Becalmed

  1. From Western NY, know all about long stretches of gray…. loving your blogs. Keep on trucking 🤠

  2. One of your best. An amazing story. My youngest is sharing the story. your video of the blue sky was spectacular! Great reminder of all the things we take for granted but a simple blue sky is all we should ask.

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