Noon Position: 11 10.43S 127 57.77W
Course/Speed: SSE 6+
Wind: E 11 – 25
Sail: Double reefed jib, double reefed main; apparent wind about 70 degrees
Sea: SE 6 – 8
Sky: Open, then squalls
Cabin Temp: 87
Water Temp: 81
Miles last 24-hours: 153
Miles since departure: 3445
“Senior,” calls Monte as I come on deck. Mo’s bow has just lifted a five-inch slab of water that rushes aft in imitation of a Colorado River rapids. “Senior, why so pinch?” He puts his thumb and forefinger together and then points to the sails. “Trying to make some easting, Monte. Gotta cut into the wind if we’re gonna go east.” “Yes, is fine, is very fine I am sure, but maybe it is not so lucky today because my shoes they are always getting wet and the sails they are very unhappy.”
Fresh but variable trades are the tiring norm, and I spend my day watching the evil eye (the wind indicator) and fretting over when I should tuck in or untuck the next reef as wind oscillates between 11 and 25 knots over the course of hours. The cost of not reefing is a mechanical bull ride and sounds below of death and destruction. The cost of reefing, we become a slug.
Poor Mo, stout as she is, bears the brunt of my waffling, gets pushed up, down and sideways as we muscle through the lumpy, unsettled seas, and every minute shakes off water like she’s a dog just finishing a bath.
Mo, however, does sometimes make me pay for my indecision. My Thanksgiving dinner was nothing special. As per above, it had been an active day. I threw together a quick hash of beef, last of the bell peppers, corn, garlic, and curry, all intended to top mashed potatoes. Dinner and bed, my only thoughts.
The hash had simmered for fifteen minutes and was smelling so delicious I didn’t mind the extra heat in a cabin already 87 degrees. I took the pan and began to toss it, restaurant-style. Then the wave, unseen. I missed my first grab and fell backwards. Then I missed my second grab. I threw my arms wide to keep from being flung into the head. The hash catapulted into the pilot house where its greasy succulence spread over the sole and cabinetry with better evenness than the best varnish. It took an hour to clean and the rest of a paper towel roll that needed to last to month’s end. I had granola and mashed potatoes for dinner and was in my bunk by 9pm.
Part of the problem is that the water has heated up again. By the time we’d gotten to the line, water temperatures had dropped to a surprising 73 degrees, which may have accounted for some of the current irregularities I noted in earlier posts. Since then, however, water temperature has rebounded. Today’s reading was 81 degrees. This has brought with it battalions of squall clouds, none with the leaden malice of those in the ITCZ; no, these are more the typical tropic cumulus grown to be neighborhood bullies.
But they are still frequent, phalanxes separated by an hour’s clear sky and clear air, and large enough to absolutely wreck the consistency of wind flow in this region.
On our 26th night since departure, we passed through 9S, which, by my reckoning, is roughly the half way point (in terms of latitude) between San Francisco and Cape Horn. When we arrive at Cape Horn, we will have sailed some 7,500 miles. To circumnavigate the Southern Ocean will require traveling nearly twice that distance, approximately 14,500 miles, at which point we will have completed just over half of the entire Figure 8 Voyage.
And here I am complaining about trade winds.