A Circumference, Of Sorts

12 Mar

March 10, 2019/Day 157

Noon Position: 50 01S  105 25

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

Wind(t/tws): NExN 23 – 27

Miles since departure: 21,572

Avg. Miles/Day: 137

 

All morning we close reached to the SE and into a hard northeasterly. Two reefs, then three. By noon a sea was building, and I was on the verge of putting up the small staysail when everything shifted.

Wind went from NE to NW in a matter of five minutes. During the transition, wind speeds nearly touched forty, and then backed down the seventeen. Within fifteen minutes, the windward sky, which had been low, dark, ragged and pumping with rain, cleared; within half an hour, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. Wind filled in to twenty on the quarter; I shook out the reefs, and again we fly SE.

By evening, we will have sailed 21,600 miles since departing San Francisco last fall. Those gentle readers with seafaring inclinations will know that number to be the circumference of the globe in nautical miles. In term of distance alone, we have circumnavigated as of today.

But of course, we haven’t. Our “There and Back” is still in the “There” stage. We’re still in that tricky bit leading up to the closing of the first of the Figure 8’s loops.

Miles to Cape Horn: fewer than 1,400 now. Close enough that I can see the boat icon and the massive peninsula, Tierra Del Fuego, on the same chart plotter screen. Today we dipped into the screaming 50s, where we will stay for the duration, which I am hoping to be in the neighborhood of ten days, Neptune and Aeolus and Mo willing.

One hundred days in the roaring forties as of today and all is well. I’m still hungry and eat like a horse. I still sleep like the dead but also dream vividly in my ninety minute stints. My shoulders, which have been very sore and brittle for months, are feeling better (no idea why; they’ve been getting more of a workout recently). My sit bone, injured in a bad fall on the foredeck a month ago, is still delicate, but now the pain is nothing but a gentle reminder to move carefully and with intention.

I could do with a clean change of clothes; also dry would be appreciated, but I still have plenty of layers with which to stay warm.

I will admit this last leg has become a grind and that some of the poetry is lost in repetition upon a theme. I long to be anchored in a fine cove, to row ashore and hike among pine scented forests; to hear a warbler. A warbler! Oddly, the southern Pacific is empty in comparison to its sister oceans. Empty of birds, I mean, but this is likely due to its also being empty of high latitude islands.

My visit to this alternate planet, this austral ocean world, has been long and difficult. But as my friend, Tony Gooch, wrote recently, “Be sure to enjoy your slant towards Cape Horn; soak up the seas; admire the sky; this may be your last time in the great south.”

And I promised to do so.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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