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A Usual Day if Brisk

July 1, 2012

July 1

June 30, 2012

Day 11

Local Noon Position (12:52pm Hawaii Standard Time):
By GPS: 43.17.110N by 160.54.061W
By Sextant: 43.19.5N by 161.06W

Course: 25 degrees true
Speed: 6 knots first, 5 knots second half
Wind: 18-20 WSW until 10am; 8-12 WSW after
Sea: 8 feet in the morning; 4 this afternoon
Sky: Low and gray until noon; crystal clear now
Bar: 1031, falling slowly
Air Temp (in the cabin): 58 degrees
Water Temp: 54 degrees
Sails: Double reefed jib and main in the morning; all plain sail by end of day; wind on port quarter.

Since last noon: 12
Total for passage: 1318
Daily average: 120

Debris: Nothing in the morning at all, possibly due to grey-sky interference and a moderate, breaking sea. Yellow plastic drum in the afternoon, along with a plastic bottle and a piece of styrofoam turning in the surf; two black fish buoys; a piece of wood, 1 by 2, about a foot long.

Ships and other piloted vessels: One ship at 0915HST. The Vincent T Thomas Bridge. Heading 269 degrees true at 16knots. Destination: Tokyo.

Birds: Today is all about Layson’s. Have seen no less than nine separate Layson’s this afternoon. Leaches Storm Petrels played in Murre’s running lights all night long. Phalarope in early morning. A Kermadec Petrel this afternoon–whitish around face, whitish primaries under–playing in the disturbed air in front of the jib. First Fork Tailed Storm Petrel of the passage as I write.


Cold night. I slept in my foulies and boots again and under the sleeping bag but could not get warm. Wind grew quickly with sunset and by midnight I had been on deck three times. Leaches storm petrels played in our running lights as I doused the main sail, swinging like bats in the glow of red and green, trilling softly in their glee. Job done I did not stay to watch but dashed for the cabin. Now we were down to just the jib. We rolled and sloshed mercilessly in the night. By morning wind was 18 touching 20 from the WSW, seas were lumpy and steep, but nothing Murre hasn’t seen. I had slept little and dreamt badly.

Low, complex cloud, hazy below, shadings of slate above. I put up a double reefed main before anything just to help stabilize my drunken boat. And then I stamped my feet as the water boiled for coffee. My urine steamed as it went over the side. I made very hot oatmeal. I put on more layers and wondered what I will do when it actually gets cold.

I sat for hours watching the day. Would the wind increase? Waves were in a rush and nearly vertical. As we crested, I could see them stack and then mushroom in a froth for miles. We took their weight just off the beam, sometimes sliding up a wave that the second before had looked as though it would crash over the cabin. Some tried, but Murre seemed to sidle just enough to slip over the top. Not always. One put 20 gallons of water into the cockpit, but only one. I watched as it was sucked down ever so slowly and wished for larger drains.

No debris that I could see. Are we above it? Then the ship, seen by my electronics eleven miles away. Half an hour later it came hull up out of the mist like an island. I was tempted to call on the radio for a chat–so many cruisers do–but what would I say? They on their heated, unmoving bridge–me in the wind, huddled, hanging on for grim death. Except for the sea between us, we had little in common. It was a workday for the folks on the Vincent T Thomas Bridge, bound for Tokyo. Best to let them be.

By mid morning the wind had backed off. By noon the clouds sailed on ahead leaving us in bright sun. No need to run the engine today. But the layers did not come off. Chill the wind remained.

Projects I had promised to finish before latitude 40N I did finish today. The drogue and its 250 feet of line are now rigged and ready. The storm jib is hanked on the inner forestay, waiting. The jugs of sea water collected for the University (they are testing for radiation) are lashed in the cockpit. I stuffed towels into the Dorade vents to slow their leaking and put wax (the kind used to seal toilets in place) over other small vents that can squirt in water in a big sea. Who knows if we are ready for the north Pacific, but we are as ready as we can be.

Then I found myself lounging on the forekdeck in the sun remembering yesterday, remembering how I wept for no reason that I could figure. I had been thinking of people I know in Tokyo, of the lives pulled out to sea from the coast, the fragments I am sailing through. But that wasn’t it. There was some other thing, a quick flash of memory, and then in a moment I was in tears but the memory had vanished. Emotions flow more freely here where there are no natural impediments, but their source is not necessarily any the more clear.

The comedy of Layson’s Albatrosses pulled me back. For an hour I was always in sight of a Layson’s sitting in the water to starboard, always to starboard, always alone, always facing the sun. I’d pass one, and there in the distance, another bobbing like a fat seagull. And this on a day with such fine wind. I have seen so many Layson’s on the cliffs of Kauai. Could any of those birds be these?

Moon rising, sun setting. Time for dinner, a glass of wine, and the next project: how to stay warm tonight.


One Comment
  1. Lawrence Killingsworth permalink
    July 2, 2012 8:41 am

    Those of us sailing along with you are mighty glad your dunking over the side the other day wasn’t something worse. As they might say in the South, “Lord have mercy, young man, take care of yourself.” which, of course, you did. Sail on, young man, sail safely as you head into those northern waters. We’ll be watching.

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