Knockdown. Not Today. And Tortore.

January 8, 2019

Day 96

Noon Position: 46 18S  56 54E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExN 7

Wind(t/tws): WNW 26 – 31

Sea(t/ft): W and NW to 10

Sky: Overcast

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1005+ steady

Cabin Temp(f): 54

Water Temp(f): 47

Relative Humidity(%): 80

Sail: Working jib and main, three reefs, broad reach to reach

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 157

Miles since departure: 13,223

Avg. Miles/Day: 138

Days since Cape Horn: 39

Miles since Cape Horn: 5,579

Avg. Miles/Day: 143

Longitude Degrees Made Good (degrees minutes): 3 40

Longitude Miles Made Good (at Lat 47S): 151

Total Longitude Made Good Since Cape Horn (degrees minutes): 124 11

Winds stayed W most of the night, oscillating between 25 and 35. Mo wore just a double reefed working jib and rode like a mechanical bull. Not so noticeable in my bunk, which is well below the waterline way down in the main cabin, but try to make a cup of coffee and you risked your life.

At 8am, we passed just north of where Mo was knocked down in a gale last February 18th. The knockdown broke a window in the pilot house and let in enough water to soak most of her electronics. It also stole the drogue. That put us into Hobart for two weeks and stopped that year’s Figure 8 attempt.

I *should* be home with Joanna right now, making a fire in the fire place because the power is out and that’s the only source of heat for the moment. But she’s doing that today while I’m on attempt number two. Life was due to return to normal in 2019. The Figure 8, which has been in-build since 2013, would be finished. Not so. And this is where that changed.

I’ve been keen to get past this area without damage. No matter the likelihood of lightening striking twice, it has made me quite nervous over the last few days, and to see the seas here as chaotic as I recalled…

But about an hour before noon the scene began to shift. Big seas we still have, but they’ve lost that jagged edge and appearance of malice. And suddenly the current is with us. Mo’s been pulling 8 knots an hour since noon.

When I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, when I tire of gray skies and gray seas, my own company and Shepherd’s Pie, again, I pull down my copy of THE TORTORE VOYAGE by Gerry Clark.

Gerry, a merchant mariner turned New Zealand apple farmer, a lover of birds, the sea, and adventure, built a 36-foot bilge-keeled sloop in his barn and set out with short crew to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean, visiting all the islands he could get to along the way. This was in 1983. His goal was to aid in bird conservation efforts by establishing population statistics on those islands, many of which hadn’t been visited since the demise of sealing.

The voyage is glorios and full of disaster. West of Prince Edward Islands (which we passed a week ago), his boat, Tortore, was rolled and lost her mast in a storm. The story of her limping into Marion Island, her jury rigging, the loss of his crew (who had to return to school), the loss of is self-steering gear west of the Crozets, more jury rig attempts at Heard Island; the five times Tortore rolled on the return to Fremantle…

Gerry’s will to survive; his indomitable spirit; his love for where he was despite everything…

Actually, it doesn’t cheer me up, this book. But it makes me realize how good I have it, and that’s something.

6 Comments on “Knockdown. Not Today. And Tortore.

  1. The Totorore Voyage is one of my favorite tales of endurance and determination at sea. A great book.

  2. The Totorore Voyage (please note correct spelling!! Americans always want to shorten things!) is one of the most amazing books about sailing the great southern ocean. I lost my copy and cry when I think of it. As for you I expect to see, in the future, a great tome on the trials and tribulations in both the extremes of the southern and northern oceans. By the way what’s your timeline for St. John’s? Maybe we see you there on Sage!

  3. “Conditions became hectic and frighteningly unpleasant.” Classic understatement. I might use that myself as a reminder in the future: “Have conditions become hectic and frighteningly unpleasant?” he asked, the photo from that sailing book clear in his mind. “Not even close. Suck it up.”

  4. I think Gerry received;
    1986 – Tillman Medal for Cruising in High Latitudes (Royal Cruising Club of Great Britain)
    1987 – Blue Water Medal (Cruising Club of America)
    I know we shouldn’t count our chickens etc but maybe ????. Keep up your wonderful posts.

  5. You are not alone, I/we are following closely. Your writings are poignant.. I can only imagine how I could manage, being where you are. while i have thought myself to be, (tough)what you are . Not so. Stay strong…wishing you the best.Thank you

  6. It is wonderful that your writing is getting so much (well deserved) recognition!

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