A Gam at Sea, Thwarted

17 Feb

February 15, 2019/Day 134

Noon Position: 47 20S  175 26E

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

Miles since departure: 18,293

Avg. Miles/Day: 137


So slow. We haven’t had a 150-mile day in nearly two weeks. Fastest day in the last eleven, 137 miles, and that one is way ahead of the average. On four days, we’ve made less tha 100 miles. That’s more sub 100-mile days in two weeks than we’ve had since departure. The forecast predicts wind should pick up–a low is approaching, but each new forecast pushes its arrival out another day.

I’m trying to relax into it. Tough. Cape Horn ain’t getting any nicer.

Drizzly and rainy much of yesterday, but we were reaching until late afternoon. When the wind backed enough, and after the sails had had a bit of a rinse, I rigged the water catchment system to the main sail. Got two gallons before rain quit.

So far, I’ve collected 32 gallons of rain. I figure I need that much again to make it all the way north without rationing.

Since departing The Snares and The Traps, we’ve seen a number of commercial vessels on the AIS monitor. One cruise expedition ship headed for The Snares; two “bulkies”* headed round the island; a great many big (300-foot), Chinese fishing boats coasting north and south at the edge of the continental shelf.

Then, yesterday, a target popped up very close to Mo and on an intercept. That’s quite rare. Name: Evohe. Length: 82 feet. Vessel type: Sail. Oh, wait, that’s also quite rare. I’ve seen one other sailboat in the last circumnavigation and a half, and that was in the Cook Island cruising grounds.

No destination port was given.

Suddenly it struck me that the intercept was purposeful, that Evohe might also find the discovery of a Moli on her screen to be a rare thing, that she might be swinging by for a gam. Or could it be she knew of Mo and Randall and the Figure-8? She could take a few snaps as we sailed; could “report our position,” as was done in the days before satellite communications.

She was a mere four miles off, but stare as I did into the gloom, I could see no silhouette forming, no hull nor masts. The sky was too low and gray, my glasses too wet with drizzle.

I began to tidy the cabin. I cleaned the breakfast dish. I brushed my teeth, again. I exchanged my slippers for boots and put on foul weather gear.

Back at the chart plotter, I could see Evohe had made what looked like an even sharper turn toward Mo. What would she look like? An older, wooden, square rigged charter, perhaps. Or maybe she was a modern design, a sloop with one of those impossibly tall masts. I wondered where she was headed.

On deck. Still no sign of her.

We were both making slow way–Mo, a mere four knots to Evohe’s seven–so, I retrieved a bar of chocolate from the galley and sat down to wait. The chocolate, still cool from the cupboard, crunched satisfyingly. Evohe on the screen, still approaching. I folded the wrapper and set it down. I sucked my teeth. There, Evohe. Approaching. And then I nodded off.

This is the curse of the solo sailor. If he stops moving, he falls asleep.

When I woke, Evohe was well past. I dashed on deck for a look but without hope. I called on the radio, “Evohe, Evohe, sailing vessel Moli.” I called again and again and until Evohe’s target disappeared from the screen.

Only much later did I realize that Evohe’s course was direct for the Antipodes Islands and that our intercept had been random and without import, at least to her.

*Bulk cargo carriers. As opposed to container ships, for example.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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