Since 4pm yesterday we are sailing sweetly on 8 – 12 knots originating anywhere from NNW to NNE. The telltales flow straight aft and Mo glides effortlessly from one course to the other as Monte follows the meandering wind. On deck, there is the distant sound of the swooshing bow wave. Below it is still as a church. That a heavy boat can make 6 knots on 8 and 7 knots on 11 of true wind I find gratifying. Nothing to make Jimmy Spithill turn his head, but I notice it with pleasure.
The sea undulates slowly from the N but is relaxed with eyes closed as if meditating. Its countenance suggests there is nothing urgent in the whole ocean, in the whole world. It says maybe the sea is waiting and for nothing in particular. It is sitting at a bus stop but cares not if the bus arrives. It is watching for the mail but will happily watch again tomorrow and through next week. The waves breathe in; they breathe out. The rest is sky and some cloud. There is nothing else. Possibly nothing ever happens here except this slow, prehistoric undulation, this endlessly patient waiting. The sea says that’s just fine.
This morning a tropic bird plunked down in the water just off the bow. As I ran forward to snap it, I saw in the scuppers our first flying fish. That might explain the tropic bird, but no fish has yet been seen flying.
The how-to-get-there problem remains. Each day I play out the days forward in a program called LuckGrib, plotting new courses as a High here and a High there rolls over us. One of our biggest challenges–other than getting north, or even getting anywhere at all–will be getting in our westing. On the below chart you will note I’ve placed a waypoint at the latitude of San Francisco but at the longitude of Homer. If that was Homer’s actual position, it would be 1400 nautical miles W of my home town. But that’s not all. Once we get above this rabble of Highs, the prevailing wind in the N will be from the NW. If we enter that region too far to the east, we’ll be close hauled if we’re fortunate and blown to BC if we are not. So, we must repeat the cant of that captain in Jack London’s story, and we must make westing.
Secondarily, in case it is not obvious, every opportunity must be taken to work to the N so as to be in the southerly flow developing ahead of us by Friday. There is no Jack London story about northing. Be that as it may, northing should also be considered imperative.
We have established a daily cleaning schedule to commence immediately after breakfast, which is so far a melange of leftovers from the night before eaten at the change of the noon watch. Here dinner burritos become breakfast bowl…for lunch. This could go on for a while.