Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rites of (Tradewinds) Passage ... Sunday 12/11/11 day 7

Many elements of sailing offshore are similar... The motion, the watchkeeping, etc. But Tradewind passages (at least those I've read about) seem to share a common collection of experiences. Sure each of the experiences can be found on other passages but the total package is part of the Tradewind experience. Just about ever Tradewinds Passage that I've read about shared the holy trinity of Gear Failures, Flying fish on deck, and nighttime squalls.

Last night we achieved all three in short order. First a snatch block (big heavy pulley that rope feeds thru) busted. It was the snatch block that was on the end of our boom and feeding the sheet to the leeward jib. So we waited till this morning to fix that and instead had to fly that jib like a normal one by falling off the wind some and allow the wind to keep it full. I was off watch and slept thru all of that excitement.

Later on my 0300-0600 watch I heard some thumping on deck just outside the enclosure. I figured it was flying fish and sure enough this morning there were 2 big fatties laying on the starboard deck. We are now in flying fish territory and see schools of them taking flight from some unseen predator. I never get tired of watching those beautiful little sea oddities skimming across the water.

Last was the squall... No big story here. I was still on watch when I saw one coming up behind and to our north. As the clouds blotted out the full moon I could see the rain bands off about 4 miles and it passed by harmlessly. It still was a reminder to me however that soon we will be getting into squall country where nightly fire drills are not out of the question.

Sailing conditions since yesterday have been awesome. We have these big 10'+ rollers coming up from astern, the winds are blowing a good 20-25kts from the east and we are trucking along at a high rate of speed. Last night on watch I saw the boat speed exceed 11kts down one of them! This is downwind sailing at it's finest!

First thing this am we gybed the whisker pole (moved it from one side to the other) and was able to set our course a little more westerly as the winds were pushing us a bit south of our preferred track. We continue to pretty much sail the Rhumb line to Grenada.

At 1100 WE PASSED THE ONE THIRD OF THE WAY TO GRENADA MARK!!! Charlie Jen and I whooped it up in the Cockpit for a couple of minutes to celebrate the mark. I'm currently estimating our 1/2 way point to be reached at noon zulu on Weds. All my calculations to date continue to point to a 18 day passage with arrival in Grenada on 12/23. If this wind however keeps up just like this and the gear all holds we could even do better. Keep your fingers and toes crossed folks.

We have some big cross swells coming from a storm up by Scotland that occasionally toss us hard to port. Previously all the waves were tossing us to Starboard so we had already discovered and tied down those things that wanted to travel across the boat when we heeled to Stbd. With our early morning Gybe onto a Starboard tack we learned about the rest of the things that wanted to travel in the other direction. One of them was the coffee maker just as we were making coffee this morning. It had been velcro'd down but the velcro was not enough to hold it and off to Port it went flying. One more example of Life underway. Taking a shower underway turns you into a human pinball. This morning I had PinBall Wizzard Playing in my head as I bounced around. I keep discovering new black and blue marks and wonder where they came from.

The coolest thing about sailing downwind in these seas is watching them come up from behind. Every once in a while a series of extra large ones comes along and you sit on the boat watching them catch up to you... Soon you are looking up at the top of the big baby as it towers above and just as it catches up to us, the boat rises up and starts surfing the face of the wave, the foam from the boat hissing as we pick up speed. The wave is still faster though and so up and over the crest we go like a duck in a big pond. At the top of the wave you look down into the trough between this one and the next. At the crest the boat slows down and we ride the back of the passing wave down into the trough to begin the surfing experience all over again. Down in my bunk I can listen to the hissing and feel the acceleration and deceleration as we ride up and down the waves. It's a great experience. Add a full moon to it and it's just awesome.

The sea is totally covered with whitecaps. As we watch some of the waves break, it if breaks just right you can see thru the top little section where the wave is curled and it is the most beautiful blue color. I am going to try and get some pictures of it if i can and my camera works... did i mention that my new (and only camera that I brought) is not working correctly. The video function is totally shot and the photo function questionable. I might have to settle for shots with my iphone.... Oh the humanity!

Oh well - that's pretty much it for now. No real food items to report. Jonathan is cook today and i think that he is making steamed vegatables, tofu & fruit cups for dinner. We've scheduled yoga for 7pm followed by daily afirmations at 9 with tonights movie being Willie Wonka. A clean and healthy boat.... that's us.

Thanks for riding along. If you are enjoying the blog or would like to hear about anything else drop kate a line and she will get word to me.

Till tomorrow


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