Cold Day, Cold Feet

4 Jan

January 2, 2018/Day 90

Noon Position: 46 32S  35 05E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ENE 5

Wind(t/tws): SWxW 20 – 27

Miles since departure: 12,302

Avg. Miles/Day: 137

I can’t believe I’ve been away from my wife for 90 days. I doubt we’ve been apart this long since our first date.

Poor day for mileage. Wind went soft but squally overnight, and that has not improved between sunup and this writing.

A frigid airmass is moving through, pushing temperatures in the cabin to 48 degrees by morning, a number not seen since Cape Horn. Condensation dripped from the port lights. Squalls have been huge and heavy and unrelenting and have dominated my day. This is because they not only bring high wind but they bend it beyond what can conscientiously be ignored.

The “true” wind wants to be about WxS at 25, and this is what we get between squalls if there’s enough room. But the squall turns that wind 50 degrees S and more; gusts are to 35 and 40 with hail. As the squall departs, wind goes 15 for a painfully long time. Then the cycle repeats.

Consequently, our course is a lazy S, no matter how much time I spend at the sheets. Am cold, tired and cranky. Have barked at Monte a few times when he fails to correct with alacrity. This, I have noticed, does not have any positive effect.

Part of the issue is that I’m nervous. We’re approaching a difficult stretch of water. Prince Edward Islands (Marion) are less than a day to the east, and 600 miles further on, the Crozets. As you may recall, it was a day’s sailing past the Crozets where Mo fell off a wave and stove in a widow in seas that were breaking for a hundred feet.

What makes this difficult water is a guess. The sea floor rises here, creating a high plateau for the islands to sit upon. Could it be that this generates upwelling which adds to the surface turbulence? Where we were knocked down was well past the Crozets and in deep water again. Does the plateau act like a big boulder in a vast sea, producing a return current in its wake? All unknown. The force of the sea is not unknown.

Arriving in the area with us are two lows, one with strong NW winds day after tomorrow and a full rotator low (NW, W, SW winds) a day later. I am usure how to handle these. Should I stay N of the Crozets in lighter winds but shallower water or stay to the S where water is deeper but winds will be stronger? Currently I’m edging N (at the behest of the squalls) with the intention of going over the top of Prince Edward. The coming northerlies will likely drive me south and just below the Crozets. That’s how things look at the moment.

Cold day … and cold feet. Nothing to do but press on and sail as smartly as possible.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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