Randall Reeves

Astronav Update: Mistakes were Made

12 May

May 10, 2019/Day 217

Noon Position: 19 28N  54 27w

Miles since departure: 29,277

Avg. Miles/Day: 135


Most of the night we made between two and three knots. The sky started clear, but by morning, Mo was walled-in by heavy, black squalls. Nothing moved for several hours. Only when windlessness holds one prisoner in this way does such an intensity of quiet feel oppressive.

Then, just after noon, the squalls melted away and a cool, north wind filled in. On that we now make six knots on an empty sea under an empty sky.

I chose a challenging ...

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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 ...

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Monte Takes a Break

8 May

May 6, 2019/Day 213

Noon Position: 16 58N  46 38W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NW 6.5

Miles since departure: 28,828

Avg. Miles/Day: 135


“Montaaaaay!” I say, climbing into the cockpit. “Welcome back!”

“Senior, but I am only right here,” says Monte. “Why must you yell?”

“I think you were napping and missed all the fun. We had to do a bit of work on your…”

“Senior, please to pardon, but Portolanos, we do not nap. Maybe very occasionally we will close our eyes, this mostly to ensure the proper moistness of the eyeballs–it helps with the seeing–but even then, we close but ...

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Shooting Stars

7 May

May 5, 2019/Day 212

Miles since departure: 28,667

Avg. Miles/Day: 135


Six days over 160, and we’re still cranking.

I’ve been at astronav consistently since rounding up into the Atlantic forty six days ago, and yesterday marks a turning point.

Yesterday, I switched off the chart plotter.

The sextant I use is the Celestaire Astra IIIB. I bought it in 2005 from my local chandlery because it was the only sextant they sold. Not the only brand; there were no others in the store. I was about to make my first ocean crossing and wanted to learn celestial ...

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Of Some Cooling and Tropicbirds

4 May

May 2, 2019/Day 209

Noon Position: 09 40N  38 22W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NW 6.5

Miles since departure: 28,176

Avg. Miles/Day: 135


Mo is cranking out the miles as if she’s a space ship on a long, straight shot for deep space. Next stop, the rings of Saturn.

This morning at 6am, the cabin temperature was 79 degrees. That’s the first time the cabin has been below 80 in the morning since April 12th. At noon, water temperature was 79 degrees–first time below 80 since April 10th.

Even without the numbers, I can tell it’s beginning to cool; I’ve pulled ...

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Regression to the Mean

2 May

April 30, 2019/Day 207

Noon Position: 05 52N  34 16W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NW 7

Wind(t/tws): NExE 12

Miles since departure: 27,842

Avg. Miles/Day: 135


We haven’t logged a 160 mile day since March 27th, a week after Cape Horn. But today we were fast again. It feels good to see Mo glide out the miles.

These recent slow, hot weeks have put me in mind of the idea of *regression to the mean.* It’s a phrase my baseball friend and I mutter to each other when our home team follows a glorious winning streak with a losing streak of equal ...

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Moving Again!

1 May

April 29, 2019/Day 206

Noon Position: 04 00N  32 21W

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

Miles since departure: 27,681

Avg. Miles/Day: 134


If there was doubt yesterday, today there is none. We have at last departed the Doldrums. Proof: a steady and building wind from the northeast and a sky with nary a squall. What cloud we have is dry, cottonball cumulus. (There is also an odd, milky haze in the air.)

I changed down from the big genoa to the working jib at dawn. By 10am, I was putting a reef in the main and a tuck in the ...

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Easing Out of the Doldrums?

29 Apr

April 28, 2019/Day 205

Noon Position: 02 23N  30 51W

Miles since departure: 27,549

Avg. Miles/Day: 134


I dropped sails after dinner, and we drifted for several hours. A heavy sea. Mo rolled terribly. I had to wedge myself into my bunk to keep from being tossed around.

By midnight, a light breeze with drizzle; I put us on port tack and heading northeast. At least there is some north in the course, I thought.

But by 4am, our course was due east. Wind had begun to swing north, and was pushing us back into the belt of ...

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A Day in the Life of the Doldrums

28 Apr

April 27, 2019/Day 204

Noon Position: 01 19N 30 57W

Miles since departure: 27,485

Avg. Miles/Day: 135


By “day in the life,” I mean today…

2am. From my bunk, I hear the familiar thwap thwap. The sails are telling me we’re becalmed. I rise and silence them. Rain.

6am. Rain has cleared but the sky is heavy. No wind. No choice. Batteries are down by half. I begin motoring after the first cup of coffee.

10:30am. Engine off. A light breeze from the southwest has filled in. I raise the main and spinnaker, and we take ...

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Doldrums. Ug. And a Birthday.

27 Apr

April 26, 2019

Day 203

Noon Position: 0 29S  30 52W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): WNW 2

Wind(t/tws): S 4

Sea(t/ft): Various, to 4

Sky: Clear (now)

10ths Cloud Cover: 0

Bar(mb): 1016

Cabin Temp(f): 90

Water Temp(f): 86

Relative Humidity(%): 68

Sail: Spinnaker.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 33

Miles since departure: 27,434

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

Leg North Miles: 4,484

Leg North Days: 37

Avg. Miles/Day: 121

Becalmed overnight, again.

With sundown, wind goes to zero, and the sea rolls Mo such that the sails are grinding themselves to bits.

I drop them at 6pm.

In the wee hours I climb ...

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