The Doldrums, Now and Again

Day 166/44

Noon Position: 08 16N 149 19W

Course/Speed: NNE3

Wind: SE9

Bar: 1013, rising

Sea: NE 6-8; SE 3-4. Vile combo in such little wind.

Sky: Partly cloudy; squalls to windward.

Cabin Temperature: 88

Water Temperature: 84

Sail: All plain sail. Slatting terribly.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 136

Miles this leg: 5,488

Avg. Miles this leg: 125

Miles since departure: 22,593

“I told you not to talk,” said Monte., who is in lather, “Did I not say you never ever talk about the Doldrums or making your fine escape until you are almost home, not until you can see the light of Cape San Vincente or better, not until you are warped into the warf and paid the officer his small bribe for not mentioning certain articles found about the ship; not until then, and if you slip, if you, by mistake, say something like, ‘oh, what fine weather we have today,’ then you immediately throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder and say, ‘I beg pardon, but have you seen my hat?’ And then the Doldrums they get confused and wonder about your hat and forget you are having a good passage. Everybody knows this, Senior; from Columbus to now everybody knows this but you. What a … how you say in your language…”

“Greenhorn?” I say.

“No. No no. That word it is far too kind.”

All night wind had been slowly backing northward and increasing until, at 3am, it was dead NE at 20 knots. I rose, put a reef in both sails and laid in a course for 40 miles windward of Hilo, a close reach to the NW that Mo could make handily. She raced off. The sky was clear. Arcturus overhead. A waning moon. I went back to my bunk happy. These were the NE trades alright. We had made it across with unprecedented ease.

At 6am I woke to find Mo pounding. In the pilot house I could see she’d slipped back to a course ENE and winds were back to south of east. I eased sheets and made her course north. The sky ahead was heavy with cloud and rain.

All morning wind eased and went south (south!) until by noon the sails couldn’t keep their wind. There is a hefty swell sliding down from the NE and a smaller one from the SE, and they throw Mo about like she is a bathtub toy.

At 1pm I took sails down. They made a terrible racket and I’m beginning to worry about them. The light and variable winds on this leg have taken their toll, and this suit has another loop to go.

So now we are motoring north in search of wind.

The weather files show us to be at least half a degree inside the trades with winds NE at 15.

Actual. ESE at 7, unless they are SSE at 6 or E at 5.

I should have kept my mouth shut!

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