Thoughts on “Last Year’s” Voyage and Sunshine

December 1, 2018

Day 58

Noon Position: 53 27S 60 24W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NExE 7

Wind(t/tws): WxN 15 – 16

Sea(t/ft): SW 2 and 12 (big old swell; we almost surf)

Sky: A front to windward and to lee ward; clear here.

10ths Cloud Cover: 1

Bar(mb): 1014, steady

Cabin Temp(f): 59

Water Temp(f): 43

Relative Humidity(%): 67

Sail: Big genoa and main, full. Reaching.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 122

Miles since departure: 7768

Avg. Miles/Day: 134

I keep referring in these logs to the Figure 8 Voyage 1.0, the first Figure 8 attempt, as what happened “last year.” In fact, upon reflection and much to my surprise, most of that voyage happened this year.

Today is day 58 of the current, 2.0 voyage. On day 58 of the 1.0 voyage, it was December 28, 2017. Mo and I were just getting anchored at a little cove on Chile’s Beagle Channel called Caletta Olla, this after a week of hand steering off the South Pacific due to the failure of both our self steering systems. At that time we were just three days from rounding Cape Horn.

Two days of rest and general tidying at anchor, and then it was on to Ushuaia, Argentina, for repairs. We departed Ushuaia for sea on January 12th of this year (!), and the rest of that 1.0 voyage–the knockdowns, the Hobart layover, the sail home–*and* this one, have all happened in 2018.

I’ve made two attempts at Cape Horn, from California, in one year.

Makes my head spin to think on it.

At least the right Horn attempt was successful.

I woke to sunshine and the need to, finally, douse the poles and put us on a reach. That second task happened after morning coffee, but the realization–“OH, IT’S SUNNY!”–didn’t happen until about 10am.

Down here sun is rare and sun is useful. It is, among other things, warming and drying, and every chance one gets in the Southern Ocean to haul pillows and mats and towels and socks and sleeping bags up on deck for a breather, one should take. Otherwise the damp below will, after a time, become utterly demoralizing.

Once boat things had been laid out to dry and locker lids had been opened, I set about small chores: mopping perpetually wet floors, cleaning the sextant of a week of salt spray, draining bilges, repairing the cigar box I use for navigational tools (the lid had broken off when I fell against it)…and studying the problem of the genoa poles.

The issue is simple to describe: the poles keep falling out of the sky unbidden. But the fix has stumped me so far. This started a month ago. I’ve repaired the latch that holds the pole to its socket on the mast rail twice, but the wear of years of happy use has simply worn out the latch and the socket. I’ll have to jury rig some sort of clasp. The challenge is that the pole must be able to rotate 360 degrees while the socket stays still. Thus the study. I think I’m close…

Not all work, though. Since the Horn, the birds are back. Wanderers, Black Browed Albatross, Cape Petrels, White Chinned Petrels, Storm Petrels, Prions. Sometimes I can count as many as fifteen birds in view at one time. A typical hour may be half work and half bird watching.

The water remains an emerald green. Occasionally, we pass slug-brown kelp heads amputated by some wild wave from the cape we have just passed. Ahead and to port is Ilsa Beauchene, an outlying rock some 50 miles south of the Falklands and our closest approach to those islands. I have Beauchene in view now, a low, bean-shaped lump. Once past, we leave behind the rock and the kelp; the water will turn blue in a day or two, and we will become, again, as pelagic as the birds.

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