• Molly On Final Approach


    October 5, 2019

    Days at Sea: 301
    Days Since Departure: 369

    Noon Position: 45 53N 130 56W
    Course(t)/Speed(kts): E 6
    Wind(t/tws): SExS 10+
    Sea(t/ft): SE 3
    Sky/10ths Cover: Overcast (but no rain) 10
    Bar(mb): 1027, rising slowly
    On-deck Temp(f): 66
    Cabin Temp(f): 70
    Water Temp(f): 62
    Relative Humidity(%): 73
    Magnetic Variation: 15.7

    Sail: Main and working jib, one reef (no need for speed in this direction); close reaching

    Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 128
    Miles since departure: 38,377

    The rain that fell lightly but without remission all yesterday and last night finally eased to a drizzle by breakfast and then dried up altogether before noon. However, the S wind we’ve had for two days shows no signs of following suit.

    By now we’ve run our easting down and are not in need of more. In fact, with a mere 250 miles remaining between Mo and the Oregon coast, I’m wondering if I should heave to. I’ve been on that coast. There are no all-weather hiding spots that are not also bar harbors, and of those there are few.

    Once, when sailing home from Alaska late in the year, I decided to harbor-hop the coast between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Francisco so as to avoid the embrace of early-season gales. Avoid the gales I did and most of the fine sailing days too, because the Coast Guard, who controls the harbor entrances, kept the harbors closed to “recreational” traffic at the slightest whiff of a swell form the W. “You can check in, but you can’t check out,” should have been the sign posted directly below “No Wake.”

    For weeks I was stuck in Grays Harbor, a fine place to stop for an afternoon of beach combing and an ice cream, but the one taffy shop and the one burger stand and the one gift shop lose their charm after three or four days, not to mention a fortnight. Newport was another prison on our way S. Admittedly, we did weather a substantial storm there, and the brew pub uphill from the marina was an improvement over taffy and burgers, but they were hardly home.

    I recall planning an escape. Well before dawn, I put out to sea thinking that at that hour the Coasties in such a small town would surely would be asleep, but I had barely begun to reach the steep and crashing bar when I heard a siren from astern, and soon I was escorted back into the harbor with a reprimand from the Commandant.

    Murre, the little ketch I was sailing then, didn’t make it home until Thanksgiving that year.

    It is an odd final few miles. First a whimper and then a bang. The whimper will come later tonight when, per the forecast, we run smack into a ridge of calm lasting a day. The bang will be the northerly gale, winds to 35 plus, I expect on our last two day’s run to Drakes Bay.

    The fates, it seems, have a sense of humor and a taste for surprises.


    October 4, 2019

    Days at Sea: 300
    Days Since Departure: 369

    Noon Position: 45 14N 133 55W
    Course(t)/Speed(kts): ESE 6-7
    Wind(t/tws): S 15+
    Sea(t/ft): S4, NW4
    Sky/10ths Cover: Overcast 10
    Bar(mb): 1021
    On-deck Temp(f): 65
    Cabin Temp(f): 67
    Water Temp(f): 62
    Relative Humidity(%): 68
    Magnetic Variation: 15.8

    Sail: Double reefed main and jib. Nice easy close reach.

    Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 131
    Miles since departure: 38,249

    A year ago today Mo and I departed Drakes Bay and headed S toward Cape Horn.

    Today we are 700 miles NW of Drakes Bay and close reaching into an autumn southerly. Winds yet lack that hard edge of winter and they are warm. The sea is small and Mo makes her speed without pounding.

    All day I sat by the lee window and wondered what I should think of all these miles under the keel. So much water. Almost a year of perpetual motion. Only to return to where we started. Without a hold full of gold. And not feeling that much wiser.

    But satisfied. Is that what this was about?

    Though not fully, not yet. Now is not quite the time for reverie. A very stiff wind off the coast next Tuesday/Wednesday may make that final approach tricky.

    Better to stay focused. After the anchor is dug in, then philosophy. For now, sail.

    Overnight we drifted on the remains of the northwesterly. While I slept, wind held to its quadrant and kindly did not back to the S until first light. I even got the first cup of coffee down before having to take the deck.

    The shift from running to reaching required a full change. Roll up headsails, down and stow poles, make up pole lines (there are eight), move sheets to on-the-wind positions, swap running backs, let out reefs in main and haul away, unroll working jib, make up cockpit lines, adjust sheets, adjust Monte.

    Breakfast well earned. A bear claw and a bowl of oats.

    The sky brightened as the day came on, not with a clearing to blue but less cloud and a disk of sun smokey white. But it has thickened throughout the day and grown dark. Rain now and for the last two hours. If anything, wind seems to be diminishing and backing into the E. Time to don foulies and let out reefs.


    October 2, 2019

    Days at Sea: 298
    Days Since Departure: 367

    Noon Position: 47 12N 140 03W
    Course(t)/Speed(kts): ESE 7
    Wind(t/tws): WNW 20+
    Sea(t/ft): W 10
    Sky/10ths Cover: Cumulus tending toward squalls 5
    Bar(mb): 1022, steady
    On-deck Temp(f): 62
    Cabin Temp(f): 67
    Water Temp(f): 60
    Relative Humidity(%): 63
    Magnetic Variation: 15.7

    Sail: Twins poled out, 3 reefs

    Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 160
    Miles since departure: 37,961

    Randall: Hey Monte, have you heard this one? “A guy walks into a bar…”

    Monte (perspiring at the tiller and concentrating hard): SENIOR! PLEASE!, if this is no an hemergenthia, then the god of wind and waves and your pilot appreciate you talking only when necessary.

    It’s been a challenging day for Monte. Winds are fast and the sea is high. Holding a course is real work, and even with three reefs, the bow is being tugged around a bit too much.

    But I want the speed more than balance. Two days of 160 miles or better. Now that’s something. And too, if we can keep up such mileage, we may scoot just far enough E to miss the hard edge of the coming low.

    The afternoon gets strange, though. Yesterday squalls built up after lunch such that I had to be on watch as their racing winds approached. Every hour I’d roll in sail and roll it back out again when the sky cleared. Luckily, when their heat source went down below the horizon, the squalls melted away and we had a quiet night.

    This afternoon, the squalls have taken over the sky. They are heavy and dark, and an hour after sunset they are still crawling up Mo’s skirts. I’ve stayed in foulies. It may be some time before I can relax.

    ************************************************** ******

    October 1, 2019

    Days at Sea: 297
    Days Since Departure: 366

    Noon Position: 48 29N 143 35W
    Course(t)/Speed(kts): ESE 8
    Wind(t/tws): W 25+
    Sea(t/ft): W 8 – 10
    Sky/10ths Cover: Cumulus/squalls 4
    Bar(mb): 1019
    On-deck Temp(f): 59
    Cabin Temp(f): 66
    Water Temp(f): 58
    Relative Humidity(%): 66
    Magnetic Variation: 15.4

    Sail: Triple reef in main, out to port, triple reef in working headsail poled to starboard.

    Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 167
    Miles since departure: 37,801

    Overnight, wind veered WNW and hardened to 25 knots. I slipped a third reef in the main and hauled the jib sheet tight and left wind on the starboard quarter all night.

    Stars. The Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Arcturus. In the wee hours, Orion. “Stars,” I said, “stars!” We had not seen them in so long, the word felt foreign.

    In the morning, I poled out the jib to starboard, tucked in three reefs and we flew at 7 and 8 knots. Towering, cathedralesque cumulus, obsidian water; seas whose break was almost too white to look at. Black footed Albatross. And Mo on a bobsled ride.

    Today 48 North is very like 47 South.

    And the strategy is much the same now as well. In the south, the goal was to surf the top of passing lows. Here we are riding the bottom of a low whose center is near Homer, Alaska. We are way out on the perimeter of this spinning giant; the barometer reads 1019 mbs, but the winds here are fast.

    For days I’ve been targeting a region of 25+ knot winds whose angle would slingshot Mo directly homeward. The goal is to embed inside the low and ride it until it disappears over the horizon or fades. Current forecasts say we may ride it until Friday.

    Grand, but not quite long enough…

    This afternoon, squalls. Now we are running with the twins poled out. Winds are up and down. I’m rolling in and rolling out as the thunderheads roll over us. Rain. Hail. But who am I to complain? As the sun sets, twenty black footed albatross swing around the boat, around and around, until I lose them in the dark.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Figure 8 Voyage 2.0 started by Photoboy View original post