No Plan Withstands

15 Dec

December 12, 2018

Day 69

Noon Position: 44 57S  28 57W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExN 8

Wind(t/tws): WSW 20 – 25

Sea(t/ft): W 6

Sky: Overcast. A light mist.

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1002+

Cabin Temp(f): 57

Water Temp(f): 52

Relative Humidity(%): 83

Sail: Twins poled out, reefed by half. Wind slightly on starboard quarter.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 164

Miles since departure: 9319

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

An off-the-shelf gray day. In fact, according to the log, we’ve had rain, drizzle, fog or overcast skies (well, always overcast) since December 9th. Fair sailing though, and all in the right direction, which is about to change.

The famous Moltke once said that “no plan withstands contact with the enemy,” and this has befitted perfectly our last few days of Southern Ocean weather routing. Having been driven up to 44S by the southerlies of our first Rio low, I thought to stay up here where the wind was clean.

Then the long range forecast showed two more lows diving down from Brazil in short order. To get over the top of them would have taken us to 39S, too far north for me; so, I dived Mo down toward our target latitude of 47S with intentions of going even further south if needed.

Then the long range forecast showed a large, heart-clincher of a low coming up from Cape Horn by week’s end. At first it called for winds of 40 knots and more (I read this as 50 plus) at latitude 47S with the low’s center barely below 50S. So, about face and I began moving Mo back N, while mapping out ways within the first two lows to get even more northing.

Now the Cape Horn whopper has been seriously downgraded. The two Rio lows are immanent, and its too late for more maneuvers. They’ll bowl right over us. Nothing for it but to press on.

Much is made of the freedom and ability to self-determine that singlehanders seek and get in spades. But this freedom comes with requirements. You must choose. Always the decision is yours, but you must make it. It’s not negotiable.

This is entirely satisfactory most of the time. But there are times when one feels overmatched and under-qualified for the task. The Southern Ocean is vast, volatile and inscrutable. Even the forecast can’t figure it out.

Napping. I’m no good at it. I may be droopy after lunch, but the moment I hit the bunk, I’m awake. This is dangerous down here where one is up in the night more often than usual. I have, however, happened upon an awkward but workable solution, which is to nap sitting in the pilot house with my head propped against the binocular box. I use the binocular cushion strap as a pillow. This position feels secure and is surprisingly comfortable, and here I can nod off with ease.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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