Speed And Date Slippage
Yesterday was day 11 of our passage across the Pacific. When you get on a boat and know that you will be on that boat for a long stretch, days and nautical miles mean absolutely nothing. For some reason I thought it was day 7 that’s how it is. I just don’t care. I don’t look at the map and think how far do we have to travel, I don’t look at the days and wonder how many more to landfall. I am living completely in the moment. What I do look at is the speed. Every three hours I work out an average speed and every 24 hours I look at how many miles we have completed. I watch the speedometer and I’m delighted as the numbers move constantly up down and hold their ground at certain times.
Speed and distance over the ocean is currently the only measure on our boat. Who Said Speed Is Bad I have been accused of racing, passing the moments too quickly, not kicking back to enjoy the moment. I think if I get anymore kicked back I would slide off the couch. I have become a human cat. I eat, sleep, clean myself, I allow my mind to wander as I take in the view, the books, the TV Series or the excellent company of my Captain.
Sleep is now irregular, I am as much a creature of the night as I am of the day. We have no watch system as such, just when you wake it’s your turn to watch. This lack of structure is working for us and it is easy. Last night for example, I watched from 8pm to 1am, then slept until 5.30am and took over again. I like to see the sunrise, plus the light show on the Pacific horizon is worth getting up for. Nights seem more my domain. During the day, the Captain is far more attentive to the horizon and needs of the boat. We do work together on all tasks on the boat such as sail changes and dishes. This adventure is about sometimes doing the hours together, then there are the lone times that allow for quiet contemplation. Having unlimited snooze capability, is one of life’s grand pleasures. Toddlers and old people are on to something good.
We Certainly Have Times Of Not Racing
We have had slow days. Times where we made one nautical mile an hour. That my friend is ridiculously slow. I could have walked faster en route to the Galápagos. We had two days where we did 70 nautical miles for the entire 24 hour period. The closer you are to the equator the more fickle the wind. You are totally at the mercy of the wind to move you forward, it’s not possible to motor to the other side of the Pacific. Turning on the motors is a measured decision that is discussed at length. As we approached the Galapagos Islands and my ear infection had not improved, I certainly encouraged the Captain to turn the motors on and get me there much sooner. If we could sail at 4 knots and above we sailed. On these days I often gave silent thanks for the modern marvels of pain relief.
It’s Why You Buy A Catana
Here’s the thing, if you have a Catana what’s the point unless you travel fast, otherwise buy a Lagoon and have that extra dancing room. Our thoroughbred Cat is designed to go fast and go safely, even when we clip her wings with reefing and way too much weight, she still responds to the wind and goes fast. Like our dog on the beach, she wants to be released to power through the waves. Our boat wants to move forward, even in light winds she tries her very best.
Each Day Has A Mark
The big aim of the day is 200 nautical miles. To reach 200 nautical miles/24hrs you need to maintain 8.333 per hour every hour. An average speed takes into account all the variables such as evening reef downs. If bad weather comes across, you slow down, if the winds lighten maintaining this level of speed is not so easy. Even the swell, it’s size and location to your boat can alter your average speed. Sometimes you go faster, other times you go slower. It’s all about the wind, sea scape, average speed and sail configuration. Yesterday an issue with our gennaker, plus slow overnight winds, were enough to just fall short of our 200 mark. If we had pushed the boat and not stopped for breakfast, a crossword and extra tea we could have probably made it, but this was in conflict with my current mindset. We are fine with 190 to 200, the days of 70 nautical miles were fine too, just not that fun, we don’t wish to repeat that anytime soon.
The Sailing So Far
The wind has been SE or ESE and although we are only on the edge of the trade winds, we’ve had consistent wind ranging from 14 to 20 knots. This means we have been sailing at 60 to 90 degrees since we got south of the Galapagos Islands. Predicting wind assures us the wind will move behind us and we can sail downwind. Downwind sailing means our spinnakers kick in, the sailing is easier in some respects the solar panels get more sunshine. More sunshine means more power, as we continue to zoom along at 8 to 10 knots our water generator is making enough for our needs.
The Pacific Is Different
The weather pattern seems to be more wind and larger swell throughout the day and over night conditions ease a little. The reverse seemed true on the Atlantic where the winds seemed to pick up overnight. A couple of days ago we travelled through an enormous weather pattern that was so staggering in its size one could only feel humbled. From East to West the entire horizon was one dark front moving across to be followed by another. Each front brought wind and rain then a pause until the next moved in. For over 6 hours we cut across the weather. Even thought the weather was constantly moving we had to negotiate from end to end. Image if that was true cyclone conditions, there is no place to hide, once your in it you can only keep going until the weather pattern moves on. The immensity of this ocean is not lost on me.
We have been sailing nearly 11 full days, and have seen few boats en route to the Galapagos Islands. Now we are South of the islands there is little or no bird life, we see only a few squid in the morning, no other fish at all. It’s just us, the blue, the waves, the wind and the sky. We are still days off being half way, don’t forget we are doing this sail faster than most.
One of my highlights thus far is night sailing towards the Southern Cross. The cross now looms large in the sky as we head directly towards it. Yes we are homeward bound. Mornings we have sunrise in our cockpit, each evening we have the sunset as our front fence urging us to follow. It is a special time indeed.
Happy days sailing
PS. As of tomorrow we are expecting downwind sailing until we get to the Marquesas Islands – not far, approximately 2400 nautical miles to go.