The Problem with Strategy is Tactics

Sept 3

  • Day 4
  • Noon Position: N35 08 8 W132 04 2
  • Course/Speed: WNW 5
  • Wind: NxE 5
  • Bar: 1021.5
  • Sail: Motoring

When describing to Harmon some months ago this first leg to Alaska, I framed it as a run in the NE trades to about the longitude of Kauai–not the latitude, not that far south, but likely that far west—followed by a slow transit around the outside of the North Pacific High and thence on to Homer. That was the strategy.

But my strategy, workable in many other months, has come up against Moltke’s first contact problem. It is tactically impossible because the situation encountered is unlike that assumed in the plan. There is no one High to transit. What is here is rather a collection of Highs banging around the middle of the Pacific like squabbling minor gods. 

So we’ve had to adjust. 

Sails began to slat around 4pm last evening, at which point we started motoring on a course of WNW. Then the idea was the shortest line from no wind to wind. Over the 24 hours it has taken to reach that magical destination, I’ve decided to maintain that course. Wind came up at 10 knots NNE an hour ago and we’re close reaching under large genoa and main. This course may give us up to two days of good wind, at which point another high will be on our heads. We’ll motor through that on the same course with the idea of eventually picking up a band of southerlies in a future quadrant late in the week. With (much) luck, this may put us into the tail of a long range forecast North Pacific Low.

It’s unclear how workable the plan is, but at least we have one.

An empty sea, mostly. No ships today. Two tropic birds came in for a brief inspection; finding flies but no fish, they departed without even a “kreek.” Now and again a small, old, bleached, postage-stamp sized piece of plastic, one lid to a five gallon bucket. The few cumulus we saw went straight up into the air.

We are eating well on Harmon’s large inventory of fresh, too well for two guys mostly watching the world go by and only occasionally pulling a line or rowing away at the tiller. 

Barometer above the galley showing the increase in pressure over the last three days.

6 Comments on “The Problem with Strategy is Tactics

  1. Flexibility is the best plan and you seem to be doing that in spades. We sit here watching and looking at the weather patterns and I predict you’re going to have a great trip – but then I don’t have a secret door to what the gods have in their plans…..

  2. Great adventure! Glad you have another sailor aboard, especially helpful when you hit those doldrums & when you need some good sleep.

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