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Making the Turn

October 14, 2011

Day 16

Local Noon Position (1119):
By GPS: 10.55.19N by 143.47.67W
By Sextant: 10.48N by 143.54W

Note: Not a good day for navigation. I actually forgot the noon sight–had my head buried in one of the food lockers trying to organize what refuses to be so, and suddenly it was too late. Then cloud obscured the 1430 shot, though I was able to get it. So, the noon sight is by Dead Reckoning, and the GPS position is for 12:00 time zone noon.

Course: 330 degrees true
Speed: 5 knots
Wind: 10 knots ENE
Sea: 1 – 4 feet S
Sky: 80% occluded. A very large cell we are intersecting soon–biggest I’ve seen this passage. Bar: 1011
Temp: 79 degrees

Since last noon: 91
Total for passage: 1726
Daily Average: 115


Notice that we have made the turn. After two weeks of climbing northeast and a couple days of due north, our bows are now pointed just to windward of the island of Hawaii. Hilo is less than 800 miles away; Honolulu, less than 1000.

Up and down night, as usual, but woke at dawn to Murre making 5 knots in the right direction on a wind from the east that built all day. At first I thought we were out of it, out of the ITCZ. The sky shown blue and cumulus puffed white in a friendly way, but after a time I realized that at the horizon in every direction sat solid, complex cloud, as if we were in a large, circular valley surrounded by mountains.

But the wind stayed good, fresh from the east and often north east, and built to 15 knots by early afternoon when we sailed into a large and ragged weather cell that we are still in. High pillars of white, but heavy, low below and with rain. It looks infinite in size and nasty.

And we have been flying, averaging over 6.5 knots for hours on winds gusting to 17 in very lumpy sea.

The only difficulty has been that Molly refuses to hold a course for more than fifteen minutes. I want 325 degrees true. I will happily settle for 320 or 330, but after pretending to comply for a short time, Molly refuses to sustain any course but 310 or 345. No matter what changes I make to sail or the position of the vane or its hold on the wheel, a few minutes after I am satisfied that *this* time we have it, a few minutes after I’ve gone below to brush my teeth or make lunch or just relax, Molly ever so quietly wonders off.

I have yelled. I have yelled at the top of my lungs and made a fist. I have made threats I am too ashamed to admit and promises I can never keep. I have even pleaded, a little. Molly appears to listen attentively and then she does what pleases her, which seems very obviously to be whatever does not please me.

In truth it is a difficult day for sailing to a course. Wind velocities are changing frequently; the sea is tossing every which way, often pushing the boat bodily off her line. “See,” says Molly, “It is not my fault.” “Well it’s not my fault either!” I shout from the cabin. So we have stopped talking, at least until morning.

The night is dark. With cloud down to water-top I see nothing from the hatch but navigation lights. I don’t even see our wake. Now rain.


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