Kodiak to Straits of Juan de Fuca
Noon position: 54.57.17N by 142.03.39W
Miles since last noon: 157
Total miles of passage: 401
Avg. Miles per Day: 133
Speed: 6.5 – 7.5 knots
Wind: SW 10 – 20
Right after sending last night’s missive, summer ended.
All day I’d been tracking a gray line on the western horizon, more like haze than cloud, that hadn’t appeared to moved except possibly to slip toward the north. I’d convinced myself we would clear it. Then I looked up from writing and it was upon us, a low thin fog racing over the top of the mast, which, within an hour had ascended and solidified into a dull gray sky from one horizon to the next.
And that we’ve had since.
All night we sloshed along under poled-out headsails, but when I climbed on deck at 3am for my hourly check-up, I found the wind had backed into the SW and the boat, heading east for Sitka. I was sleepy, so let this stand until 5am when there was light enough to work the foredeck.
The broken port pole went home without too much convincing (a relief), and within ten minutes we were on a beam reach (same course: SE) under large genoa and a main with single reef. Almost immediately we were touching at 7 knots.
Back below, I found the cabin was a brisk 52 degrees, which called for some adjustments. The boat has two heaters. One uses engine coolant to heat a radiator in the navigation cabin. But I’m not running the engine. The other is called a Refleks heater and uses diesel burning from a small pan to heat cylindrical metal surfaces. The pan does not have high sides, and as we are now healed over, I’m unwilling to try for fear of getting lit fuel where it shouldn’t be. Besides the main hatch is always open as I’m on deck so much.
So out came the long johns, the Ugg boots, and down jacket. If this doesn’t sound like foul weather gear to you … well, it’s not . But then the weather isn’t foul, it’s just cool. And who would wear heavy rain gear and clammy rubber boots if he didn’t have too?
Even more warming was a breakfast of fried eggs on buttered toast and Marmite. One of the benefits of an English wife–one of countless benefits, I should hasten to add–is that I’ve developed a taste for delicacies more civilized peoples hardly recongnize as food. Marmite being one.
I’m very pleased with how this boat shoulders her way forward. Average speed over the last 24 hours was 6.5 knots, and that was without trying. Now that today’s wind has stiffened its resolve and I’m flying the smaller headsail, reefed, and a main, also reefed, our speed over the ground has been above seven knots for the past five hours.
This is not just fun, it’s important for the Figure 8, whose course requires I average 130 miles a day for many months. Tony Gooch, a previous owner who circumnavigated non-stop via the southern ocean, Victoria BC to Victoria BC in 177 days, averaged 137 miles a day, and had a slow start in his run down to the Horn. That and evidence from this small cruise suggest that with careful management, I should be able to achieve the Figure 8 speed requirements.
No ships. Rarely a Storm Petrel. The ocean goes on and on. Slate gray waves push northward as far as the eye can see. All is perpetual, unstoppable motion, a motion that, without landmarks, gives no evidence of progress, just motion.