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Fighting Light Wind

May 3, 2011

Position: 16.45.63W by 118.07.06W
Course: 250t
Speed: 3 knots
Wind: 5 knots, NE
Sea: 4 foot swell
Sky: 70% cloud cover. Lowe cumulus and high haze.
Temp: 73
Bar: 1012

91 miles, noon to noon

Winds became very light overnight and by eight o’clock this morning were no more than 5 knots out of the NE.

Spent much of the morning making adjustments to sail, but there seemed almost too little wind to move us. Finally dropped the main sail so it wouldn’t flog itself to death (I worry for its long term health) and left Murre to puddle along under large genoa and mizzen.

The genoa could have done it, but Murre has a tendency to roll and roll happily even at the thought of rolling and the light swell allowed her to wallow like a pig. This had the effect of spilling all the little bits of wind the genoa had worked so hard to gather up. It barked and snapped in complaint as Murre tossed it from side to side, and then our speed would drop to nothing. After a time the wallowing would stop, the sail would fill, and just as we gathered something resembling way, the pattern repeated.

It is impossible to overstate the frustration this caused. I would pound Murre’s flank and yell at the top of my lungs for her to just hold still already. Neither of us could get to our destination without the other, and I’d appreciate if she would concentrate at the task at hand. After the yelling, I would cough for five minutes. My voice box is unused to any work at all.

Final experiment was to raise the mizzen staysail (a spinnaker weight sail) behind the large, light wind genoa. At first not much happened. It’s just not possible to make much speed downwind out of a five breeze, but as the afternoon has progressed, the wind has filled in an is now almost 10 knots from the NE. Now both the genoa and mizzen staysail billow out beautifully and move with a sense of urgency, almost like that lovely painting by Marin-Marie.

Made up a cup of rice in the new pressure cooker last night. It’s a Mexican made device that spits and drools and explodes into a hissing fit every few minutes, but beyond that does a nice job of rice. Sautd bell peppers and onions and the last of the fresh chicken, which was beginning to look a little grey and furry, but tasted fine with a heavy dusting of curry powder.

And just as the night before, as I sat in the companionway to eat and watch the night, a dim light on the horizon and exactly in the same position. Again, it took several hours to resolve into another ship-sized fishing trawler that, this time, showed its red and green and scared me out of my wits. We ran away under power and it was midnight before I began my sleep cycle.

Each day these last three we have been visited by a tropic bird and a boobie. Both circle as if they’d land if I weren’t already on board. Leaches Storm Petrals swoop like bats over the water nearby but take no notice of us at all.

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One Comment
  1. Dale permalink
    May 4, 2011 2:34 pm

    Hey RR – You’ve become required daily reading now! Thanks for the updates. As one of the other folks commenting below said, you are not alone, there are lots of us following along at home. Thanks for sharing your trip with us (and not making us do any work in return) 🙂

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