Sail Management

Day 158/36

Noon Position: 09 15S 154 10W

Course/Speed: NNE6+

Wind: ESE20

Bar: 1010, falling

Sea: E6-8

Sky: Cumulus to 50%

Cabin Temperature: 88

Water Temperature: 85

Sail: #2 jib, 1 reef; main, 2 reefs, close reaching

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 139 (I moved ship’s clock ahead one hour; so, a 23 hour day.)

Miles this leg: 4,375

Avg. Miles this leg: 122

Miles since departure: 21,619

Winds have freshened over the last two days, and now the challenge is in finding the set of sail that optimizes for speed without overtaxing the boat and pulverizing the crew.

Mo is amply rigged for a boat her size and her main sail, in particular, is a biggun. With apparent wind in the low to mid 20s, a reasonable apparent wind angle of about 50 degrees, and seas in the six to eight-foot range, we feel either hard pressed or under powered.

One reef in the main and two in the working jib allows us to fly at 6.5 and 7 knots, even when digging into and out of the swell. (Recent winds have allowed us a course NE while the sea that’s running has remained from the E.) But the ride is rough, and the angle of heel at a steady 20 degrees and more makes living below an exercise in survival.

Movement about the cabin requires all four appendages and often hips and shoulders. Cooking is nearly impossible as the galley stove is now to leeward, is effectively under you while you do a pushup on the cabinetry above it with your head in the flame. Even eating takes an awareness that with gravity so on its ear, one may need to sit up straight (good job figuring that out) or else his food won’t go down. Climbing out of the lee bunk in the middle of the night would be better facilitated mountaineering gear. And let’s not discuss the workings of the head beyond noting that one risks one’s life, and clean underwear, in there.

Also, with this sail configuration, we’re more vulnerable to the passing squall as it’s the main that discombobulates Monte in the gusts. Oh, and how Mo pounds. Every hour or so we fall off a wave and the *wham* in the boat and the shuddering of the hull are like we’ve run full speed onto a submerged reef. “She’s opening up,” I think. I look around for rushing water in the cabin. There is none. But my heart stops every time.

That said, two reefs in the main and one if the jib, while much more comfortable below and an easy ride through squalls, doesn’t really provide the power we need to keep speed up. Now our pace is more like 5.5 to 6.5 knots. The skipper has to avoid looking at the SOG indicator for fear of doing something rash. Where’s the damned spinnaker when you need it, he asks. No one answers.

Often in the Southern Ocean, I wished the main had a fourth reef point near the head. Now I wish I had a fifth between one and two. I can see Robin at HOOD sails in Sausalito shaking his head.

But all that’s just winging. In truth, we make excellent progress to the north at a clip of better than two degrees of latitude a day. At this rate, we should be at the equator well inside of a week.

3 Comments on “Sail Management

  1. And pound away you will, Randall. Hard miles under helm for sure but progress is definite. Hang on and ride the beast!

  2. iM certain you will be a novelist in your next career! This passage will be over much too soon for me – I am it enjoying so much! It seem that with the Pacific conditions, your mind and time for writing are much more fertile than in the S Ocean. Time for me to up my sponsorship…

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