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More News from the Doldrums – Updated!

May 16, 2011

Position: 01.14.360N by 131.02.131W
Course: 140t
Speed: 1.5 knots
Wind: 3 knots, WSW
Sea: 3 feet, all directions
Sky: 15% cloud
Temp: 82 degrees
Bar: 1015

18 miles since yesterday. Yep, one eight miles. Wind is essential to sailing, I find.

I woke to the sound of the heavy breathing of a mammal that was not me.  It was an hour before first light and on deck the sky was so low I could see mist in the flashlight beam though the decks were dry.  Pitch black.  The breathing was too deep and resonant to be a dolphin yet too frequent to be a large whale unless it was several in a pod.  The sound was strong, the animal or animals close.  I shined the flashlight out into the haze and saw a splash.  But the light was not the invitation I had hoped and after that I heard no more.

There was a gentle breeze, however, and so I made sail in the dark and was soon heading south at less than two knots.  It wasn’t much of a breeze.

I had slept unusually well, following the same cycle as always.  Sleeping on a boat underway is similar to sleeping on a plane–perfectly doable, often refreshing, but not at all like real sleep.  Sleeping on a boat stopped, bobbing on the ocean, and all wrapped up for lack of wind is quite different.  It’s quiet.  There’s a sense of stillness and location and the serenity that comes from an evening at a good camp site.

The day brought with it wind, extremely light and from the south southwest, requiring I put Murre close hauled on starboard tack heading south east.  I had to hand steer much of the day as Molly simply could not get a read.  Later when wind increased enough for Molly to function, I took a much needed, multi-bucket bath, and was surprised at the warmth of the ocean water.

We had made twelve miles by noon and twenty four by sun down.  Progress, though not it great quantity.

Much more progress was made stateside where a number of people worked hard to ascertain the sudden appearance and safe removal of water from Murre’s engine oil.  In the olden days a man would solve his own problems himself or die trying.  Now one has the privilege of tapping a committee, and I tapped that privilege something fierce.  Emails shot back and forth all day, theories raised, blasted, reformed and raised again until now I have for tomorrow a clear course of action.

And a special note of thanks to Reed and the mechanics on Garage Journal who’ve been helping with advice.

Tonight is the same as last night except we are now at 00.58N.  Fifty eight miles to the equator.  Murre rolls, as is her want, upon a glassy sea the color of mercury under a near full moon.  Her sails are wrapped tight upon their booms and both anchor and running lights are on–might as well look festive.  Billowing cumulus overhead and in the distance a dark squall.

The water below us is not just dark.  Lights like those of fireflies wink on and off, big, suggesting animals three to six inches long.  I try to find them with the flashlight, but they deftly move just outside the beam.  The beam goes down and down and down into clear water miles deep.

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