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Why it this man happy?

July 7, 2012

July 7

Day 17

Local Noon Position, (11:57 HST)
GPS: 52.21.52N by 148.19.57W
Sextant: 52.12.5N by 148.28.00W

Never got the afternoon longitude shot: too overcast. Morning AND afternoon are really a requirement, so my longitude here is iffy at best.

Course: 50 degrees true
Speed: 6 knots
Wind: 15 – 17 SSW
Sea: 3 – 8 feet
Sky: Broken cloud first part of day; low gray with rain the rest. Bar: 1020
Air Temp (in the cabin): 48 degrees
Water Temp: 44.7 degrees (up a bit)
Sails: Poled out jib only, most of day. Surfing.

Since last noon: 130
Total for passage: 1967
Daily average: 116
Miles to Sitka: 519

Debris: None.

Ships and other piloted vessels: None.

Birds: One Black Footed Albatross, at last! Fairly certain now of my gadfly petrel ID: it’s a Mottled Petrel due to the deep M on wingtop and gray belly, and its size. Saw a Puffin today; no idea which.


Usual day. I woke, dressed, and hit the deck to unreef, unroll sail from the night-time, conservative, so-I-can-sleep configuration. Then coffee from the companionway hatch where cathedralesque clouds filled the sky in every direction. Such height, depth, structure, almost purposeful design. Worthy of all the admiration I could draw up, so I drew up as much as possible. Then the albatross. This was promise.

The first set of sail didn’t work. Wind on the quarter was light and the jib, main, mizzen combination only filled the mizzen and left the other two panting, unhappy. Murre steered like a squirrel. Mid morning I poled out the jib and doused the complaining main and over-achieving mizzen. This pleased everyone.

The grand clouds were erased. The sky lowered, taking on the color and texture of a cement floor. As interesting to look at as the sole of a shoe. Then it began to rain. I retreated to the cabin, again, and felt around for my depression.

Most of my life has been lived indoors since we got above 40N as there is no place on deck to hide from the weather. The cuddy and “pram” hood I built in Kauai were designed to protect boat and crew when sailing on the wind (wind abeam or forward). It was what I anticipated most for this passage north, and when we get these conditions, the hood is a snug place to be.

Sadly, we’ve only been on the wind about three days in the last two weeks. Every other day it’s been wind on the quarter or dead aft. The hood is like an ice cream scoop in these conditions, funneling cold air and rain directly below, and forcing me to keep the hatch closed at all times.

But today came descending through leaden cloud an innovation. Quite without thinking about it I unsnapped the leading edge of the hood and tipped the whole thing aft. In an instant my life is transformed.

Now the rain on a dead run is caught by the hood and drained into the cockpit. What’s more, for the first time I have clear view forward. I am outside (at least my head is); I am dry; I can see. It’s bliss.

I stood in my newly named “conning tower” all afternoon. I had lunch up there, and later, tea. I put on music, the Wailing Jenny’s, and sang “Glory Bound” over and over as loud as I could without falling into fits of coughing. I was terribly out of tune but did not care any more than a singlehander I once met who sails alone into the ocean because he loves to sing but cannot hit one note, not one. “When I’m at sea, no one can hear me; there I can really belt it” he said. It rained, and then it continued to rain. I had more tea, this time with stale cookies, as waves grew and curled, and Murre surfed to 11 knots. From this new vantage I identified (I think) my mystery bird of many days as a Mottled Petrel. And from here I saw my first Puffin, a bowling pin with wings and a striped, vice-like beak. It flapping furiously into the wind and lost ground as fast as Murre was making it.

I only left to come below and write this report.

Today the weather was foul. How grand!


  1. July 8, 2012 10:41 am

    Hey Randall
    You are still my Hero…………….Doing what I Dream of Doing.
    35ft. Mariner #18 Whisper…….S. San Francisco,CA……………Roy

    • July 19, 2012 4:34 pm

      I’ve seen your boat in photos. Beautiful! Original woody, right? If so, the only true Garden of all the Mariners. Let’s meet up when I return. Thanks for following along.

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