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This is Trade Wind Sailing!

October 5, 2011

Day 7

Noon Position–
By GPS: 04.53.72S by 147.57.30W
By Sextant: 04.52.2S by 147.57.00W
Celestial Nav Note: I think I’ve solved the “cocked hat” issue from yesterday. Today I took morning sun shots at half an hour intervals between 9:00am and 10:30am, and their azimuths were 90, 89, 89, and 86 degrees respectively. This can only mean that my failure to get an “appropriate” line of position angle for my cocked hat is due to my proximity to the equator–the sun never declines enough to give a cocked hat. This was further supported by an unusual experience during the noon shot, when I noticed that I could pull the sun down to the horizon from ***any*** compass heading. Typically the sextant will only see the body (sun, moon, a star) if it is pointed in the direction of the body. But in my case, the sun at local noon is almost exactly overhead. So, I had to take care that the shot I recorded was as due north as possible. And thus today’s extremely accurate latitude.

Course: 25 degrees true
Speed: 5.9 knots
Wind: 12 – 15 ESE
Sea: 2 – 4 E
Sky: 90% occluded. We sailed under a blanket of light cirrus cloud at about 1300–horizon to horizon. Bar: 1012
Temp: 77 degrees

Since last noon: 127
Total for passage: 731
Daily Average: 122
Mileage Note: We averaged 5.3 knots over the last 24 hours per the GPS, which is a knot or more below knotmeter average readings. Must still be in the equatorial counter current?

This is Trade Wind Sailing!

Winds have finally swung into the ESE and are blowing consistently between 12 and 15 knots. We are under full main and a full or tucked jib since about noon yesterday, and have been logging off hour after hour of 6.2 to 6.8 knots. Beyond occasionally rolling or unrolling the jib its first reef or making a tiny adjustment to the vane, I’ve not touched sail or wheel.

What joy to have one’s little ship in her stride and riding smoothly over the waves like a horse in easy gallop. Golden Age of Sail literature oozes with the mariner’s relief at reaching the trades: after the rigors of Cape Horn, sails frozen stiff and winds strong enough to tear a man from the rigging, or a slow, dreary passage through the oppressive, endless calms of the doldrums, the warm, steady, gentle trades, where one might go entire weeks without touching sheet or brace, made the square-rigged ship sailor giggle like a boy.

At about noon we passed two crab pot buoys that did not appear to be adrift, but a quick look at the chart shows depths in this part of the ocean are to 2500 fathoms or more. Is it possible that men are fishing for sea creatures in 15,000 feet of water?

Moments later I was by the main shrouds on the lee side tightening up on an unused halyard when I heard a snap and looked up to see the main boom flapping out over the side of the boat. Some while back I exchanged many of the shackles that attach sheet blocks to booms, etc., for wound and seized twine. It tends to keep things quieter. But the type of twine I used on the main boom block where it attaches to the bail was of hardware store quality. I’ve been meaning to change it, but upon examination, it’s always looked fine. It had, in fact, chafed all the way through. Repaired in ten minutes.

Yesterday I noted the first Storm Petrel of the passage. I’m not sure the specific species, but this bird had a particularly lovely way of moving over the water. It was flying, fairly stiff winged, but was also using its webbed feet to “stride” from wave to wave. Not quick movements, this bird is known to patter the top of the water to attract squid, it’s main source of food, but this wasn’t pattering. It was more like the slow motion of a man running on the moon or those last few bounds before an Olympic athlete leaps for distance.


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