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Frustration

May 11, 2011

Position: 08.01.534N by 127.55.878W
Course: 200t
Speed: 4 knots (best over last few hours)
Wind: 5 knots
Sea: 3 feet
Sky: 80% cloud
Temp: 80 degrees
Bar: 1012

109 miles since yesterday. Our screaming easterly wind steadily fell with the night.

There it was again, a glow on the horizon at about three in the morning. Murre has an incredible knack for finding the only other vessel in this quadrant, and once found, she goes straight at it. Every trawler we’ve encountered so far has required a course change. For Murre, “ships passing in the night” is cause for a chase.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that these trawlers are usually parked; probably they are sleeping, and the glow of lights is seen when the ship is well over the horizon, which allows me to continue my sleep cycle. It was day before we were in binocular range of our find, and what a find. A ship entirely rusted out. Some paint remained amidships and on the house so that one could tell she had at one time been white. She listed to port. If I hadn’t seen her by her lights first, I’d have said she was abandoned.

She moved slowly away as we approached.

(I find it odd that all four trawlers we’ve happened on in the last two weeks have all been directly ahead.)

Today has been long and the work as frustrating as it has been fruitless. The beautiful wind of yesterday was a frail whisper by morning and no amount of sail fiddling, course changing, pleading, swearing, has convinced Murre to go more than a few knots in the right direction, even as the wind has built into the afternoon. She wants to head due south and will happily give me four knots there. But we need some westing first–Murre won’t listen. On a southwest course I get two and three knots and a wallowing sow, no matter how much canvas I hang in the sky.

So now we are running at about 190 degrees true under poled out genoe and mizzen staysail and Murre purrs along at four knots. At least one of us is happy.

We are so close to the ITCZ and yet we are so far. This is one of sailing’s great lessons: your eta cannot be estimated because the wind cannot be guaranteed; it can barley be predicted.

The sky has not been what I expected. Several great thunderheads rising slowly from the east, brilliant white above, steely grey below and full of rain, but Murre has managed to thread her way through all these so far. Only one near miss left water on the decks–drops were few and they evaporated immediately.

Other cloud cover is typical tropical cumulus–leaning towers marching west. Quite beautiful. So the batteries are getting a good charge today after all.

And today we’ve encountered our first swell from the south, round and irregular, remnants of the southeasterly trade winds. Strange to think that a whole new world lies just beyond the horizon.

A grand cloud cell approaches and I’m not sure Murre will be able to dodge this one. I should be on deck for this.

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