The Slingshot Arrives


Sept 21
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 11

Noon HST position: 39.00.45N by 150.11.80W
Miles since last noon: 170
Total miles of passage: 1413
Avg. Miles per Day: 128
Course: E
Sail: Twin headsails poled out; change to double reefed main and #2 jib; wind abeam and on starboard quarter.
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW to 30
Sky: Mixed cloud cover
Waves: SW to 10
Bar: 1013
Air Temperature: 79 degrees
Sea Temperature: 69 degrees

Wind, glorious wind. And for once I made sail changes before all hell broke loose.

The breeze backed into the SW after dark and our course began a gentle loop to the north. Knowing stronger winds were due in the wee hours and not wanting to surrender easting, I got the poles down after dinner and hoisted the main and #2 jib. A ship passed above us and then the moon rose inky red into a mess of cloud.

By midnight I’d reefed the main. By morning winds had increased to over 20 knots. I reefed the #2 jib after coffee. By nine o’clock the main had two reefs and the jib, three. Winds were steady 25, gusting 30. Lots of gusting. Mo boiled steadily along.

It’s like space travel. I am using an approaching weather system to slingshot my tiny ship out of the gravitational trap of another weather system. But instead of accelerating in toward a planet, as a spacecraft would do, ship and I must wait for the weather system to arrive. Then we don’t miss it!

Our slingshot has arrived.

If we are fast enough, Mo and I will be able to ride this wave nearly to the coast. My intention is to stay down here around 39N, angling only slowly up to 40N, in order to avoid the light airs at the top of this stream.

But I’d best hike it up to 40N by next week, because after this low moves through, a high drops back in that can give us a final push to San Francisco or, if my approach is too shallow, drive us down to Morro Bay. I like Morro Bay just fine. I’m just not going there.

Standing at the main mast. Admiring how Mo settles into stronger winds with a will. The waves haven’t much too them yet, I think. Perky but without much heft. (Did I not see the decks were streaming with water?) Then came a smasher rolling into Mo’s flanks. I thought I’d avoid the splash by hoisting myself up into the rigging. Like that wide receiver who jumps over his tackler. I heaved, one big pull-up, legs tucked in, way up. And the wave, seeing my maneuver, threw its entirety into my chest. I have never been so suddenly and entirely wet without jumping into the water. We both had a good laugh over that one.

Note that it’s getting cooler. Today is the first day of sea temperatures below 70 degrees and a cabin below 80 degrees. I’ve put on long pants and wear a long sleeve shirt to bed.

Handel the gecko is still with us. During sail changes last night I noted him sitting in his usual spot near a starboard cockpit winch. Thinking he had crawled from hiding to expire, I reached for him and he moved, slightly. His vital force remains, though it must be much diminished by his meager diet, at this point no more than a dream, and the cold. Handel never looked plump; now he’s positively gaunt.

With the wind up, the giant birds, the black footed albatross, that Lancaster Bomber of the sky, is really in form. Never have I seen them reach so high when banking. But on this wind the top of their curve rivals the top of Mo’s mast. And they approach. This morning two sailed in and out of the disturbed air that passed around Mo’s sails. Playing, I presume, though they look too serious for that.



My best friend and ever the more so when the wind gets going. I can’t imagine steering 20 minutes in weather like this, but Senior Monte Cristo just keeps cranking away.


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