July 3, 2018
Noon Position: 43 48N 136 58W
Bar: 1025, falling rapidly
Sky: Rain most of day, sometimes heavy
Cabin Temperature: 63
Water Temperature: 57
Sail: #2 poled to starboard, main to port, broad reach on starboard
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 137
Miles this leg: 2,051
Avg. Miles this leg: 137
Miles to San Francisco: 680
I can’t fathom today’s weather. You are thinking hot dogs, cold beer, and fireworks on a warm summer’s evening. A mere 700 miles NW of San Francisco, I’m plowing through low cloud and freezing rain. I’ve gone back to thermal underwear and a fleece hat. Two weeks ago I was sleeping without a cover; now I’m in the down bag.
By forecast, we should be on the W side of this building low and experiencing strong NW winds that increase and veer rapidly N and even NE. And yet our brisk wind is W and a touch S with a tendency to go SW. It’s been like this for 12 hours. I can only guess that we are actually on the S and E edge of the low and not where the forecast puts us.
Where ever we are, the low is coming, and it could give us a swift kick in the pants. The barometer has dropped from a noon high yesterday of 1037 to, as I type, 1019 and is down 6 points since noon today. Our winds have been a happy 15 – 20 most of the day and steady. But the barometer says, “be wary.”
I rode the spinnaker all night, a first for me. Good for speed, not great for sleep as I was up every hour or to make adjustments to a sail that is not designed to be left to its own devices. It’s like a dog that will do exactly as instructed as long as you are in the room. Once you leave, all bets are off.
By mid morning and with winds at 20 we were teetering on the edge of control, and I was rehearsing in my head the steps for getting the big sail down without disaster.
The I heard, “POW!!”
The starboard side sheet had popped out of the clip holding it to the end of the spinnaker pole.
Suddenly 1500 square feet of cloth that had formed a lovely, solid balloon shape most of the last 24-hours went to looking like a dancing octopus. Within moments it had wrapped the furling headsails and caught itself on the only jagged edge on the whole mast (one of the tongs from the radar reflector I had to hacksaw off after Hobart–I flattened it as best I could).
For a time I just watched as it fought the confines of the jagged edge and the furlers. Then, miraculously, it freed itself, and I was able to haul down the sock without further ado. No damage to the sail. Lucky me.
The stolid and predictable, not to mention much smaller, #2 went up next. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
680 miles to San Francisco. Making great time, but winds over the next several days look to be of the you-can-have-anything-except-what-you-want variety.