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May 9, 2011

Position: 11.03.125N by 125.19.513W
Course: 230t
Speed: 5.8 knots
Wind: 13 gusting 15 knots, NE
Sea: 8 – 10 feet
Sky: 70%
Temp: 75 degrees
Bar: 1012

139 miles yesterday. A very solid day indeed!

We had already logged 100 miles by early morning, so I woke happy at first light to find the sky so heavy with cloud that first light could barely get through. It took an hour for there to be any definition to the seascape. Astern was a set of cloud as dense as lead and low; in other parts the sky was towering thunder clouds, white and roiling; here and there was peak-a-boo blue that revealed thin cirrus at high altitude. But the overall effect was one of layering: cloud was stacked upon cloud until you wondered there could be that much room in the sky. And then back in one tiny corner toward the east and near the horizon, rays of orange cloud and sun striking the sea. It was a holy moment.

Then there was rain. Not much. The heat and humidity seemed to intensify with the density of cloud, and I went about fine tuning sails, tidying lines in nothing but shorts and rubber boots.

Wind speeds were about the same but the wave sets were certainly bigger and steeper and breaking. Nothing came aboard; in fact Murre has yet to take any wave on board this passage. But today’s waves and the rain reminded me it was time to put in the waterproof cockpit hatches. So that was the morning’s task.

Nothing happens quickly on Murre. It took me the better part of three days to finish installing the cheek blocks, eyes, and line for the mainsail’s second reef, not because the task was challenging, but because the sea needed watching. I would find myself seated on the coach roof with screwdriver in one hand and screw in the other staring out to sea for I did not know how long. But now I have learned. When scheduling the day’s tasks, I think in terms of one job in the morning and one job in the afternoon. Putting in the cockpit hatches should have taken half an hour, but I wasn’t done till noon.

At three, Murre was overtaken from the east by another cloud made of lead. (Wind is from the north east, but weather approaches from the east.) Wind softened as the cloud moved over us and then the rain began, light at first, but heavier and heavier until the sea was nothing but a festival of tiny splashes. The rain squashed the swell–there were no white caps for the first time in days. Instead the sea, so dark now it was almost black, appeared to be dusted in sugar. The loud hiss sounded like applause. Rain flowed in a thick stream from the tuck of sail that was the reef in the main; it poured off the cabin top and filled the scuppers with more than they could handle. Rain gushed around the deck looking for something to do. Baja dirt, flying fish parts, boobie guano, salt scum, all flowed off the boat until Murre looked brighter than I can remember.

Rain fell this hard for an hour, and for an hour I stood in the cockpit in the buff getting the best shower I’ve ever had.

Ten minutes after it stopped, the wind filled back in with its eager swell and white caps and Murre is once again wing and wing and wending her way quickly southwest.

We have averaged 120 miles a day in the first ten days of passage, quite good I think.

I made pasta last night with the last red bell pepper, and in the morning I finished the bananas. With all this cloud, my solar panels can’t keep up with the refrigerator’s energy demands and I’ve had to switch it off, so I forced myself to finish the yogurt. Sadly, the flan custard had to go over the side.

One Comment
  1. Mack Hayes of Portland Oregon, a small water sailer reading with envy permalink
    May 9, 2011 3:50 am

    Thanks so much for the detail, when I read your notes I feel like I am there. I used to spend lots of time in Baja each Winter 1980-1995. One year sailed down the coast to Cabo with a friend in his motorsailer, but never out of sight of land. Thanks Again

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