Comments Upon the Wearing of One Sock

30 Jan

Day 77

Noon Position: 47 10N 12 32W

Course/Speed: E7

Wind: W15 – 20

Sail: Twins poled out

Bar: 1023

Sea: W4

Sky: Overcast

Cabin Temp: 57

Water Temp: 45

Miles last 24-hours: 137 (Low mileage due to light wind and that I set ship’s clock back an hour.)

Longitude Made Good: 129*

Miles since departure: 10,151  (Wow, in raw miles we have completed one quarter of the Figure 8!)

*For the Southern Ocean loop, I have begun to track Longitude Made Good. Essentially this is how much easting we’ve made in the previous 24 hours at an assumed latitude of 47S. So, 15 40W (yesterday noon) – 12 32W (today) = 3.17** degrees of longitude times 40.9 (miles to a degree of Longitude at 47S) = 129 miles of longitude made good. We are averaging something like 135LMG per day since departing Ushuaia. The goal is 150.

**Minutes of longitude need to be converted to base 100.

Today’s addition to the encyclopedia of sail handling technique: running on two headsails with one pole.

This may cause some to wonder, “Isn’t that a little like wearing one sock?” Such a thing could be seen as a fashion statement (on Robert Deniro, not on Randall) or as the height of practicality (saving the other sock for a rainy day), but most likely the wearer of one sock is just a goober.

Or Captain Goober, in my case. My niece, Sophie, sussed right away that I dislike the sobriquet, “goober,” bestowed upon me lovingly by my wife. My wife means to say “peanut.” I hear “booger.” As in, “Hey booger, nice sock.”  Sympathizing with this dislike, Sophie appended “Captain” to the fore part, and I have been Captain Goober ever since.

But I had my reasons.

Up at 4am today to run out the poles. The night gave me good sleep in two-hour shifts from about 10pm and during which wind softened. By 2am it had backed due west, but I opted for one more sleep cycle and for light before having at an exercise that isn’t complicated but does require some concentration. Even with clear skies and an early sun, I was a bit groggy, and my sail handling suffered. At one point I grabbed the wrong “lift” line and managed to heave the starboard pole smartly down upon my head. Which woke me right up.

We ran on poled twin headsails until noon, but by then wind had begun to ease into the northwest. I bent the twins around with it, but by early afternoon, they could bend no more. Winds were too light to run on but one headsail, so I simply dropped one pole and sheeted in the starboard twin.

I’ll grant you it looks odd, but the windward sail does have the effect of dampening the boat’s roll, and we’ve been averaging 7 knots.

At 10am I saw a seal. Flippers straight up in the air and a belly, to be exact. Glossy brown. About four feet long.

Once when making for Sitka, Alaska, I was 600 miles south of Seward when I saw a sea otter. It was a similarly gray morning and as the boat passed a large clump of kelp, there it was, dog-faced and furry, staring back at me. What an amazing thing to see so far from shore. My naturalist friends agreed, saying that sea otters, like sea gulls, do not willingly go to sea, and in the case of the former, are never seen more than a mile offshore. More likely the sighting was of a seal, they said.

Looks like they were right. So far today, I’ve seen three. Same posture in all cases, flippers in the air for warmth.

But from where? My friend Jessie suggests Fur Seals from South America, but north of me by about 500 miles are some rocks known as Tristan de Cunha and Gough Island. Could that be their origin?

During the sunny parts of the day, another unusual sighting, multiple Wandering Albatross. Wanderers have thus far been few and far between and never approach Mo closer than 50 yards. But today, three traveling in company, and many times during the course of several hours (but never when I had the camera) one glided in to inspect Mo and her strange occupant yelling, “Hello.” Close enough I could see the blacks of their eyes and the yellow around the mandible. Not close enough I could hear the air move over their wings.

(****FREDDY albatrtoss photo here)

Such an animal!–to so expertly extract so much energy from moving air that one can appear to be embedded in it. This while Mo and and I gyrate and flog to make a fraction of their speed with no similar grace.

I would like to ride on the back of an albatross, if only to get a feel for what muscles move what parts of the body when the bird surfs over wave-tops, when it banks in high arcs, for from all outward appearances it moves not at all. Albatross could be carved from blocks of wood.

Fog and drizzle coming in as I type. Wind is easing. Now about 10 knots. The sails slap a the tops of waves. I want an easy night and sleep, which requires an easy, consistant wind. But wind is due to go north in a few hours, requiring that I drop the port pole and raise the main before sunup.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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