Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 16

This, the penultimate update, is always my favorite and not just because I get to use that word. We finished up our 16th full day racing with about 130 miles to go. Since we rounded the mark at Atoll Mataiva this morning, we now officially got that "channel fever."

Since my last update, conditions have improved... First, of course, they got worse in the afternoon with a further 20 degree header and wind to 28 kts and seas now climbing to 8 feet (and very short and confused). We were forced to take down the reacher and put up the #3.. completely washing the foredeckmen. We were making course with about 10 degrees of leeway because of the sliding sideways down the seas. Every watch was greeted with a bucket of water when they came up and one 5 minutes before bunk time.

But as night fell, winds began to moderate, back, and the seas began to settle. So, when I came up at 10 pm, the deck was dry and I put on some rinsed clothes to enjoy the warm air. The moon is now 1/4 full and brilliant, but still the stars are able to compete. Sitting on the high side and looking west, you notice that the stars making up the exclaimation point that had the cresent moon as its dot a few nights ago, seem to have moved. One also seemed to be curiously red. I went down to check and discovered that we had previously witnessed Mars, Saturn, and Luna in alignment. (Perhaps, we should have had an astrologer aboard... might have been more use than looking at the weather models and forecasts.) We also noticed that the twinkling red/white/green star that we thought must be an airplane two days ago was still there. Deneb twinkles beautifully and strange.

Really a great night on the water. The driving had become easier and the heal angle less, all with the same speed. Occastionally, one could smell the faint scent of land on the air. Of course, just as I was moving back the hatch to go down, full 5 gallons of seawater over the head.

The morning came and the wind had continued to back, so at 0830, just before dawn, we launched the spinniker about 5 miles north of Mataiva. As the sun came up, the atoll came into view and we ate fresh cornbread and bacon as our last breakfast at sea. (Jill did an amazing job all this trip.. never ate so well at sea.)

Also, thanks Dr. McG. for the shift.. too bad it didn't come two days ago when we could still make hay with it though. So, we're on our way down to the finish. We'll be sending in our 100 miles to go report in about an hour.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 15

As Jim Brown summarized, "Another day, just like the last, only wetter."

After we finished the reef as mentioned in my last post (which should really be part of todays since it occured on Day 15), we came back to course and continued to "slide on down the line". Lots of big waves on the beam and lots of sliding make for about 10 degrees of leeway. Somehow, even when its blowing 25 kts, we are still making 10 kts.

The night was beautiful again, makes you sad for what we've lost since electrifing our nights. Waxing cresent moon to starboard, the milky way to port and the Southern Cross on the bow... (now with some pretty good height.)

That's it.. getting a tad monotonous. Actually, got a dictionary here, lets see. Yup.. 3rd meaning.. monotony: beam reaching in the south eastern trades in the south pacific ocean.

Our laughing so hard I can't drive joke: Call 411. "Can you connect me to Zubenelgenubi?" "Spelled the normal way." "You know: zoo ben "L" genubi".
Kills at 10S at 1am on the 38th day of beam reaching.


Just missed it by 2 seconds. Too dark out to see the line in the water.

Where are we?

Just in case.. we checked that the Sun didn't move.

Pollywog in King Neptune's Court


King Neptune and pollywog

Seen here in his more earhtly incarnation.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 14

Hmmm... seems that today was much like yesterday... Only a bit faster.

I'm going to have to make today's update another short one, and the pictures will have to wait another day. We had a great, if tiring night, on a beam reach with blaster and full main, falling down course a little. I saw the moon last night for the first time in a week... beautiful cresent with 3 bright stars in a row pointing towards it. Very cool, seen between towering stratocumulous clouds.

This morning we had some weird squalls with lifts and light winds... almost tempted to try the kite again... but soon enough that ended and the afternoon was filled with squalls with 30 kts of wind and rain hard enough to shower in (ask Dad, he did.. I just rinsed my laundry).

By the afternoon, the wind had begun to pick up even between squalls and just as Day 15 began we called Jim off his off watch to reef the main... Too late. We sat there in 28kts and a 30 degree header, running off course, while we waited for the wind to moderate so we could get the main down without ripping it out of the track.

Finally reefed, we're back on course and zooming along.. all at a 45 degree angle. (The only reason I can write this is we are currently on a "comfort course" so that important "business" can be taken care of.. you figure it out.)

Pretty exciting stuff really... but we're all beginning to talk about how soon it will be over. Probably Tuesday night.. but I'm still hoping for that 40 degree lift so we can make in before sundown... how about it Dr. McG?

Nighty night.