Critters to Consider

9 Feb

Day 88

Noon Position: 48 29S  26 12E

Course/Speed: ESE5

Wind: NE10

Sail: Main and working jib full

Bar: 1003

Sea: N4

Sky: FOG. Can see maybe 30 feet past the bow.

Cabin Temp: 51

Water Temp: 39

Miles last 24-hours: 144

Longitude Miles Made Good: 138

Miles since departure: 11,845

On deck this morning, another sprinkling of critters, maybe fifty from bow to stern. Mo ran all night with wind on the quarter and then the beam and took a fair bit of water over the cabin, which deposited these shrimps liberally over the boat’s supposedly non-wetted surfaces. As a measure of how high the spray got–I found one stuck at arms length up the working jib. Like being shot from a cannon and ending up stuck to the top of the circus tent.

This afternoon I got out the macro lense and was amazed at the detail. A body and appendages that could be made of spun glass they are so clear and delicate. Big, black but blank eyes that appear to be designed to distinguish one thing–light concentrations. And overall, more the body form of a grasshopper than a shrimp.

What are they? Why are we seeing them here, on the Atlantic side, and not on the Pacific? What do they eat and who eats them?

Species distribution is interesting to contemplate. Why is the Albatross prevalent here and not in the northern part of the south Pacific or anywhere in the Atlantic? Likely because the wind is here and these waters produce more food. Too far north and a gliding bird runs into the Horse Latitudes, where it would be reduced to paddling like a duck and dunking for flying fish.

But the flying fish, for example, is a different matter. Why is it limited mostly to the tropics and not here and why is this shrimp not there?

Lacking access to facts, the contemplation typically ends right about there.

Tactics. We carried on to the east until 10am, and I thought maybe we’d skirted the area of calm in the forecast altogether. I smiled. Lucky us. But then the wind began to veer itself in that direction and drop right away, and it was decision time again.

One thing singlehanding provides is a wealth of decision-making opportunities and an unambiguous delegation-of-responsibility flow chart.

After poling the various stakeholders and checking-in with the board, I’ve decided to break with protocol and make the decision myself. I’ve chosen to follow the wind down and down until it comes back at first into the north and then northwest starting tonight.

Was that the right decision, asks a still small voice. We’re almost to 49S now.

My sense of increasing vulnerability the further south we get to one side, the weather forecast for the next week shows very similar wind velocities between 47S and 50S and plenty of opportunity to work north later in the week.

But shouldn’t we tack north now, says the voice. The wind will veer sooner to our favor up there.

No. See that swell from the north. The moment we come about, we’re nose into it. We’ll go nowhere with 10 knots of wind true.

But what if the wind goes due east; should we tack around then?

Worry about that if it happens.

As I type wind has backed from 80 degrees true to 50 degrees true. Let’s hope that’s the sign the change is coming.

Opened my first jar of Branson Pickle today, a delicacy first discovered aboard Arctic Tern, on which I was crewing the Northwest Passage in 2014. Thanks to Les and Ali Parsons for the introduction and for teaching me to bake bread on a boat.

Ate the last San Francisco orange today. Brought aboard on October 28, 2017 and still delicious.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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