Ten-Thousand Miles

20 Dec

December 18, 2018

Day 75

Noon Position: 44 44S 16 08W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ENE 6

Wind(t/tws): SWxW 13 – 16

Sea(t/ft): W 6

Sky: Partly Sunny. Wow.

10ths Cloud Cover: 7

Bar(mb): 1005+

Cabin Temp(f): 61

Water Temp(f): 46

Relative Humidity(%): 72

Sail: Twins poled out full. Dead run.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 155

Miles since departure: 10,071

Avg. Miles/Day: 134

It’s a testement to the complexity of weather down here that the low due in our quadrant tomorrow night (Wednesday) wasn’t even in the forecast until two days ago. In fact, it doesn’t exist at the moment; its first recognizable formation occurs tonight between here and South Georgia.

I’m trending N, an attempt to get into an area where winds are 30 – 35 by forecast, which usually means 40 – 45 plus gusts in reality. The goal is 44S and 13W by tomorrow afternoon.

On Friday afternoon, another, more powerful low drops in. For it, there is no good quadrant to shoot for. All latitudes are bad.

The challenge with these two is not just wind velocity but the changes in wind direction. Both are well organized but relatively small, by Southern Ocean standards. If I’m in the N half of the low, I’ll experience NW, then W, and finally SW winds as the system moves through. But because the storms are small, their wind circles are also small, and the changes in wind direction are fairly extreme.

This can become problematic when negotiating the seas. What course do you take when the wind shifts from NW to W? Answer: it depends on which wave train is dominant. My track record at picking the right wave train is poor.

In our favor is that both systems are fast moving. If we’re fortunate, the NW seas won’t have time to develop, and we can take the seas from the W at Mo’s best angle.

Today is day 75 of the voyage. Day 75 alone at sea. A record for me (68 days was previous longest passage). I wish I could give you a pithy assessment of my mental and physical well being, but it’s 7:30pm and I’m in want of dinner and an early go at sleeping. Winds are due to shift after midnight. Sail changes will be in order.

In passing, I’ll admit to feeling the weight of the marathon Mo and I are running. In the eighteen days since Cape Horn, we’ve ridden-out three gales with two more due by the end of the week, and we’re barely half way to Cape Good Hope.

On the bright side, we crossed the 10,000-mile mark today. That puts us roughly 1/3rd of the way to the Northwest Passage entrance. At our current pace of 134 miles per day, that’s another five month’s off.

Some sun today. Immediate warmth. Foulies and rugs out to dry. And our first sunset in memory.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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