Across the Prime Meridian

25 Dec

December 23, 2018

Day 80

Noon Position: 43 21S  00 42E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExS 6+

Wind(t/tws): WNW 20 – 27

Sea(t/ft): NW W SW to 12

Sky: Thin stratus

10ths Cloud Cover: 4

Bar(mb): 1002, steady

Cabin Temp(f): 61

Water Temp(f): 50

Relative Humidity(%): 75

Sail: Double reefed working jib

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 153

Miles since departure: 10,821

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

At 0800GMT this morning, Mo and I crossed the Prime Meridian and in an instant passed from West to East. Marked on charts as zero degrees longitude, the Prime Meridian is a semi great circle that runs from the North pole to the South pole by way of a red line down the center of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England.

Yes, Mo and I have made it as far as the UK, although we’re a bit to the south.

Why is this line important? In a nut, everything having to do with time and place on earth is tuned to it. It’s officially where our day starts. All clocks that wish to be precise are set with reference to time at this place, called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The Nautical Almanac I use to work up my sextant shots knows exactly where the sun, the moon, the planets, and 58 stars are in the heavens for every second of every day, and the time it uses is GMT.

Of course the line could be anywhere. It ran, for a time, through Paris, and Moscow had its own line once, but by convention we have decided there should be but one Prime Meridian and that it should pass through Greenwich.

Rough times on Mo. The sea is heaving, and we roll and pound something fierce. Winds have been 25 – 30 much of the day, and our course, dead downwind, would be perfect for running out the twin headsails, but the sea is throwing the boat around so much that I’ve had to reduce sail just to make it easier for Monte to recover when we’re knocked on our ear. We’re running a twice and three times reefed headsail only.

I’m not sure where this is coming from (or why it fails to show up in my photos). The wind in these parts has been mostly west for days, which should lead to a consistent sea-state, but what we have is a mash-up of NW, W, SW swell that’s chaotic, steep and crashing, and though not dangerous, it’s some of the most intense we’ve yet sailed through.

The forecast for the next several days looks fair. I’m ready for that!

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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