Your Figure 8 Questions…

January 6, 2019

Day 94

Noon Position: 46 44S  49 19E

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

Wind(t/tws): WNW 29 – 34

Sea(t/ft): NW 10

Sky: Rain

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1000+ and falling

Cabin Temp(f): 54

Water Temp(f):

Relative Humidity(%): 83

Sail: Working jib with two reefs, broad reach tending toward a reach

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 168

Miles since departure: 12,905

Avg. Miles/Day: 137

Days since Cape Horn: 37

Miles since Cape Horn: 5,261

Avg. Miles/Day: 142

Longitude Degrees Made Good (degrees minutes): 4 03

Longitude Miles Made Good (at Lat 46 30S): 167

Total Longitude Made Good Since Cape Horn (degrees minutes): 116 36

Winds slowly increased all night. I put the main on three reefs at 10pm and doused it altogether at 2am. We’ve been on a double reefed working jib ever since. With winds in the mid 30s, seas have build to a sloshy 10 – 12 and are tossing Mo about. But she can handle this and more.

Gray day. Rain has kept me cabin-bound most of it while the Albatross still gets to play outside.

Joanna passes on your Figure 8 site comments every week or two, and I very much enjoy reading them. Thank you all for taking the time to be involved and for enjoying the Figure 8 adventure with me.

Sadly, I can’t respond to every one but have selected some of the more pertinent questions for answers below…

Jan writes: Do you have help with your weather routing? How does that work? Or are you sorting it all out just yourself?

Randall: Jan, greetings. I sort it out myself. I use Predict Wind GRIB files for wind and pressure (this came with the communications package I’m using). Essentially, GRIBS are a simpler version of the wind data you see on the Figure 8 tracker. I pull a forecast twice a day that runs out a week and make decisions from that.

In the past, I have gotten loads of help in understanding weather down here from people like Tony Gooch (who sailed this boat for 16 years and did a solo, non-stop round the world form Victoria in 2002). But I do overall and day-to-day planning and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Mary writes: I too am anxious to hear what effect the loss of the larger wind vane will have. Will it make Monte insufficiently responsive in lighter air?

Randall: Hey there, Mary. Sorry I wasn’t clear. I have several, one might say many, vanes aboard. Mike Scheck and the folks at Monitor have made sure I’m well stocked. It’s just that *that* vane and I had worked together for so long, I felt, much to my surprise, a connection. And no, there was no chance of turning Mo about for a retrieval. It was, as they say, a dark and stormy night.

On that note, Connie M, thanks for the thoughts re same. I appreciate your understanding, and it’s nice to get pings from you and Tony on the F8 site.

Todd writes: I wonder, do you think this time around you have less problems from experience in the Southern Ocean, just lucky, or a bit of both?

Randall: Todd, I will be most happy to answer that question in depth from the safety of the Atlantic doldrums, or better yet, a bar in St John, Newfoundland (first scheduled stop). But as I’m less than one third of the way around this Southern Ocean loop, I think it’s a bit premature for me to be expounding on that question. Feel free to remind me later…

Dan writes: I have two questions; How do you deal with sea sickness? Is it ever a problem when you first set sail? And how do you deal with loneliness?

Randall: Hey Dan, re your first question, I’m not prone to motion sickness. I can get a little queasy in very rough conditions when doing close work, like (ehem!) typing an answer to your question in a gale near the Crozets, but generally it’s not an issue. I have also found that, for me, when it is an issue, the uneasy feelings are often associated with being out of control and frightened. My first ocean crossing was on someone else’s boat, and I was queasy below quite often. The boat smells were unusual, the motion was extreme, and I was exhilarated but scared. On my own where the smells are mine and the decisions too, this is rarely an issue.

As regards loneliness, again, not prone in that direction. I have many interests, like solving my own problems, and love being on the ocean. Those go a long way toward forestalling loneliness. I do, however, get lonely when I’m frightened. In a big sea and a tough gale, I can get sucked into the “Why am I here when I could be home safe and cooking a lovely dinner my beloved wife” mode of thinking. This recedes as the gale moves off east, and I tend not to give it much weight. I know Joanna loves me and will accept me back (after I’ve showered); and I know she supports this venture. I look forward to being home, but would not abort the voyage for it.

That said, I’m only into day 94 (of 210 non-stop to St. John?) of the Figure 8. Between here and Hobart is a famously tough stretch, and I’m now officially on the opposite side of the world from those I love. I’m beginning to feel that sense of isolation; to feel the grind. I’ve bitten off a lot; can I chew it? Etc. So, let’s keep the loneliness question open and see what develops.

Steve writes: Not sure what kind of camera you’re filming with or if its weatherproof, but I for one would love to see some footage of the big seas you are encountering. Of course, you are probably too busy managing the boat to whip out your camera.

Randall: Hey Steve, I use an iPhone almost exclusively. Pretty tough device, actually. My best wave shots so far are in the Handel video. You’d be surprised how shy waves are. The moment you get up on deck with a camera, the sea goes still as a lake. But I’ll keep trying.

Chuck writes: You say, “Lock the floorboards over the engine and close the diesel tank vents (if the engine has been run).” Under what circumstances have you been running the engine? I was under the impression that you were running 100% on wind.

Randall: Hey Chuck, I try to run the engine every week or two. It’s awfully cold and damp in the engine room, but I have motored some as well.

Two reasons:

A) I crewed on a boat similar to Mo in size through the Northwest Passage (NWP) in 2014 and discovered that the Arctic is mostly motoring. Winds are fickle and often light, and you are in a hurry to get through while you can. In fact, I’m not sure any pleasure vessel has sailed all the way through the NWP, much less in one season. So that killed the 100% wind idea early on.

B) I’m on a schedule. I MUST get to the Arctic by early August if I want to get through the NWP in one go. The passage is nearly 6,000 miles and is usually only open for about 60 days. You get one shot if you get a shot at all, and I can’t miss it. Moreover, I’ll need time to stop somewhere in the north for more provisions (I left with a year’s supply, but will have eaten ten months of it by that time) and for unforeseen repairs. So, I’ve given myself permission to motor through the flat calms I encounter and keep the miles rolling.

The log says I’ve motored for 48 hours of my 94 days to date (most of that was in the Pacific doldrums). That means I’ve been 100% wind 99.97% of the time.

Nick writes: I’m currently preparing my Christmas roundup of favourite inks for 2018. I’ll give you one guess for which ink gets top spot? Fondest wishes from your UK fan base! Nick

Randall writes: Hey Nick, Merry Christmas. Thanks again for producing Randall Ink. That was a cool surprise and I love having a bottle aboard.

4 Comments on “Your Figure 8 Questions…

  1. I too wondered about the loneliness issue, but totally relate to your answer-doing what you love is great company! I would imagine your love of writing is also very helpful. Your writing definitely is enjoyable to many of us!
    With tongue and cheek, I must say, how you refer to your lost vane reminds me of Tom Hanks and his Wilson. 😁 Fair winds!

  2. I understand you have no heat. I presume you like to get clean occationally just to keep the scent down. How do you manage?

  3. Love seeing your updates and the tracker and am encouraged by your getting beyond the last two breakdown spots. I do wish we had a live webcam to go with that tracker. Wishing you steady winds and easy seas.

  4. You were talking about motoring vs sailing which makes sense to me, but i am thinking the math is off a little bit. Since you are talking about % of time run under wind, wouldn’t you convert the 48 hours to two days then subtract that from your total of 94 then divide 92 ÷ 94 = .9787 ~=98%under sail

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