Squally Ride

9 May

May 7, 2019/Day 214

Noon Position: 18 21N  48 95W

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

Miles since departure: 28,985

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

Leg North Miles: 6,030


Not quite another 160 mile day; not quite.

Streak ended but still a solid run. In the last eight days, Mo and I have made good over 1,300 miles for an average of 163 every 24 hours. That may rival any week in the south.

We are nearing the end of the strong trades, however.

I’ve just come below from lowering the main for the first time since the doldrums. Now we are before the wind and making way under the poled out twins; our course, almost due west at seven knots. A large band of high pressure is building due north; I’m trying to stay below that.

Nights have been strange.

The pattern is this: days are clear or populated with dry, cottony cloud until late afternoon. Then squalls fill in. Typically, these evaporate by mid evening, leaving a starry sky overnight and until early morning, when we are again overtaken by squalls. These are large and powerful, but they, in turn, clear away after sunrise.

That last bit is the strange part–squalls developing from no apparent heat source overnight and burning off with daylight.

And each night is more intense.

For example, this morning I was on deck at 4am tucking in sail for a large, overtaking squall. I had two reefs in the jib and one in the main by dawn, and all the while we were under the same cloud cell. We rode this squall until 10am, when it finally ran out of steam and gave way to blue sky.

In no other ocean has Mo been fast enough, or the squall slow enough, that we could ride it so long.

Moreover, it’s a mystery to me how squalls can form overnight without heat from above. If they melt away after sundown (that I get) how do they form again, and more powerfully, before the sun returns?

Michael Scipione, thank you for the May 5th reply to my currents question. I had assumed the weed I was seeing was coming DOWN from the Sargasso Sea–spinning out of that high and riding the trades all the way west.

We still get streamers of weed on some days as we–to your point–move through this eddy and that. The weed is the only sign of current change, that and the re-appearance of the large zip-lock-sandwich-bag jelly.

Today it’s bad enough I can’t run the Watt and Sea. This may be a different species of plant: it does not float as high, nor is it bunched together so tightly.

I’m looking forward to making the “jump into hyperspace” in the Gulf Stream.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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