Treading Water

Day 150/28

Noon Position: 25 06S 157 05W

Course/Speed: NW5

Wind: NNE7

Bar: 1018, falling

Sea: NNE3-5, sloppy chop

Sky: Weird mix of stratus, cumulus and squalls

Cabin Temperature: 79

Water Temperature: 76

Sail: #2, full; main, full; close hauled to starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 92

Miles this leg: 3,412

Avg. Miles this leg: 122

Miles since departure: 20,657

Slow and dull. The sea is blue; the sky is blue, but there is enough hazy and squally cloud to deaden any vividness the day may have wanted to possess. The thermostat achieved 80 degrees Fahreinheit before noon, though it soon retreated, and I must admit the breeze in the shade of the pilot house is lovely and cool. Still, there is an oppressiveness laying over all like a damp blanket.

What’s aids such a sour impression is that winds are both light and contrary and increasingly so. I don’t mind one or the other, but both together represent bad planning on the part of Neptune, or whoever his Admiral of the Ocean Sea may be this year.

I’ve spent the day tuning sails to optimize our performance, but there is only so much one can do with 7 to 9 knots if wind coming from the direction in which one would like to proceed and which is accompanied by a thumping chop. When all my attempts fail to get more than 3.8 knots of speed, I go below and read until seeing 3.8 on the odometer finally goads me back on deck for another try.

Mo is a heavy bird. She needs a bit more lift to loft.

Wind slowly backed into the north all morning. In the early afternoon, it finally went west of north, so I tacked around to the east. Seeing what I intended, it soon went back to east of north. So now we make 3.8 knots and are sagging south.

One Tropic Bird flew in close today, like a dog looking for treats. I saw it first when it was a hundred feet up, gliding lightly down and down toward Mo until it was hovering just three arm lengths away. It even barked, as Tropic Birds do. I’m grateful this bird is so inquisitive, game for a near inspection of that plodding, silver ship, as it’s nice, if only briefly, to see the details of paper-white, translucent primaries, the long orange beak, the streamer of a tail–the sharp, black eyes looking down at me with a mixture of curiosity and recrimination (what, no fish?).

In the afternoon, a green fish float the size of a basketball, the first debris and the first human artifact we’ve seen since departing Hobart, unless you count satellites passing overhead at night.

This heading chop makes me uneasy. There’s a stiff wind somewhere uphill. And the evening sky is uncanny.

One Comment on “Treading Water

  1. Hi Randall, I’ve been following your blog posts for a couple of months now and am inspired by your journey and your narration of the choices you make. Sounds like you’re weathering the current doldrums as well can be expected. If you’re up for explaining something to a novice sailor to while away some of the time…

    As a novice sailor, I’m curious about the 3.8-knot threshold below which you don’t bother to go above to trim sails. Is that a boat speed native to the design of Mo, or did you arrive at that number through trial and error? What’s special about that speed with regard to navigation?

    Hoping you have favorable winds soon,


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