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Smooth Sailing

October 11, 2011

Day 13

Local Noon Position (1119*):
By GPS: 06.02.25N by 143.54.85W
By Sextant: 06.03.2N by 143.52.0W

YOTREPS Position Report Note: Those following Murre on the WHERE’S MURRE tab of this blog will notice that over the last two days we appear to have lost ground significantly, to the tune of 80 to 100 miles to the SW. This is due to my error in reporting latitude to YOTREPS on those two days as SOUTH latitude when in fact it was NORTH. I cannot change what is posted but will correct for future reports.

Course: 20 degrees true
Speed: 5.7 knots
Wind: 12 S
Sea: 2 – 3 S
Sky: 40% occluded. Sky filled with light, puffy cumulus. Nothing heavy in sight at noon. Bar: 1011, falling. 1010 by 1430
Temp: 79 degrees

Since last noon: 128 (good total given the night of light and variables) Total for passage: 1429
Daily Average: 119


Wind died in the night as we sailed into a series of large cumulus cells. I’ve come to refer to these cells as HOOVERS because they suck up all the wind. The phenomenon is simply that hot air is rising off the ocean and condensing into cloud, and the bigger the cloud, the more air is rising. Air that goes up can’t also go sideways, and I need it to go sideways for me to go forward. You see the problem, I’m sure.

So from about 0200 to 0430 I was often on deck attempting to keep Murre going in what variable wind there was or at least quite her flogging sails.

By day break the heavy stuff had cleared out and we had wind at 13 knots from the SE that has backed into the S and softened as the day has gone on, but not by much. Am sailing Murre like an old Square Rigger, that is, with wind deep on her starboard quarter, the main and mizzen steal most of the jib’s wind, so I’ve got it over half rolled up and sheeted in hard, and the main and mizzen are full out and lashed down. It’s not the speediest sail configuration, but we now have just under a knot of current in our favor, so are still averaging around 6 knots over the bottom.

Two white tailed tropic birds have dropped by today, one at 0700 and another at 1300, and over the many days of such visits a pattern is emerging. Invariably the birds circle several times, then swing in close over me (30 feet above the boat) and give me (me?) a good long obvious stare. Then they do the same with the bow (the bow?). Not sure what they are assessing. I thought at first they might be eyeing the drying Dorado pieces on top of the dinghy, but I think not.

Three large porpoises galloped within range at 0730 but failed to come close enough for a chat.

At this point, we’ve made all the easting that was planned. I set a goal of reaching 145W by the time we’d reached 5N, but we beat that goal handily, and as wind is still favorable for easting, I’m letting Murre slip a little more. Easting is insurance against a rough ride on the last stretch to Hawaii. The North East trades are usually heavier than those in the South, so the further aft we can carry the wind the better everyone will feel. The risk is that we make the passage longer than it need be, for every mile of easting must be resailed as we turn to Hawaii, now significantly west of us.

Dead ahead as I type late this afternoon is a large area of undefined low cloud; it is downwind of us yet we are catching it. May be more light wind in our future. Hope not. I could do with some sleep.

*For those interested, this number is the time of local noon on that day–by definition, exactly (within a minute or two) of when the sun is directly overhead. It is usually expressed in Greenwich Mean Time for the purposes of working it into a latitude, but I’ve backed it into the local time zone, which is GMT – 10. Local Noon is earlier by four minutes for every degree of easting we make.


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