PACIFIC CROSSING UPDATE: DAY 24
One of the cute little sayings we’ve kept hearing after crossing into the southern hemisphere is, ‘Well boys, it’s all downhill from here.’ It’s a nice thought, but it's also a real load of hooey.
It’s day 24, and our morning kicked off around 7:30a with the first of many short and intense squalls that have hammered away at us until late in the afternoon. As we ride up, over, and back down the 8-9 ft swells, the boat heels over to the point where it’s not uncommon to see the weather cloths attached to the lifelines dragging through the water. It’s nearly 4p now, and things seem like they’re maybe just starting to lighten up.
One of the few silver linings of this weather is that I’ve realized how far I’ve come regarding my comfort level on the boat. I vividly remember sailing from Ensenada down to Turtle Bay five months ago, and being absolutely terrified of the swell, the wind, and the lack of control I felt I had over the sails (that last one was probably justified, I had no control over the sails). Now, I’m confidently able to single-handedly reef the sails before the winds get dangerously strong, let them back out to regain speed afterward, and suppress that feeling that the boat is *certainly* going to tip over at any given moment. On (extremely) rare occasions, I’ve even been known to crack a smile or have a laugh in the face of rough conditions. To anyone familiar with sailing, these are little more than the most rudimentary skills, but it feels like a nice step forward and hopefully Connor realizes that not *all* of his teaching is being wasted on me.
Apart from living our lives on a 45-degree incline, it’s business as usual here aboard Sea Casa. We kept warm through the rain with some lunchtime soup and coffee, and Stuart now has enough facial hair to make him the newest member of the Soupy Beard Club (along with being hammies and shellbacks, membership in the Soupy Beard Club is now something shared by the whole Sea Casa crew). And for those keeping score at home, Stuart also won our latest long-running rummy match last night; a rare misstep from Connor, or perhaps the dawn of an exciting new rummy era? Tune in tomorrow to find out.
Chase said it best. Weather can be great, and weather can be crap. Today we saw a bit of both. I woke up this morning to our bow crashing into some increasingly large waves. About 15 seconds later, still in the comfort from my berth beneath the cockpit (kind of, it was already *VERY* rolly), I heard the wind pick up from around 15 kts to about 35 kts. Crap. About 10 seconds after that, I started to hear the rain. And thus began the pattern of weather that we've seen consistently since about 7 AM this morning until the time of this writing (6 PM TimeSteve).
I don't know if you count today as one BIG squall, or like, 10 different mini-squalls (or 5 normal squalls, etc.), but it's been a beast of a day. I think we're able to laugh about it, and none of us are totally miserable, as it's not that cold, and with three people, we can always have someone resting. Winds today have ranged from 15 kts to about 35 kts, and visibility has ranged from 10 miles when there's a clearing in the skies to about 100 meters when its raining at its hardest. The good news is all this rain has exposed some additional leaks in the deck that need to be fixed (a handrail and the center hatch). Joy! About an hour ago though, the swell seems to have died some, but the wind remains consistent at 15 kts.
The issue I stated before with the swell is that if we get going too fast, we catch a swell on the side, and it knocks us over completely on the beam. If we change out angle further south, we greet the swell head on and smash our bow over the swell crest, which I'm sure is not healthy for the boat (or my nerves). To prevent us from getting knocked onto the rail over and over again, we really have to limit boat speed. So for most of the day, despite the crazy wind, due to the similarly crazy swell, we were only putzing around 3 kts. Now that the swell is dying, I'm hoping we can average a bit over 4. Game plan is to send the remaining 550 miles at a 100 mile/day pace. Not sure if we'll manage if these conditions persist (forecast says they'll persist), but we'll see if we can't optimize. Again, spirits are still high, days go by super quickly, and all is well on board (albeit, slightly damp).
Stuart and I watched Harry Potter 4 and 5 over the last two nights, and I'm starting to read the series again. It's not the most philosophically enlightening book I could choose, but it works well when I need to set it down and pick it up every few minutes to check on the sails, etc. That's all I got for today. I trust that Chase let you all know that the southern hemisphere has not treated me kindly on the Rummy front. I have acknowledged my defeat with grace and dignity, but tonight is a new night... we'll probably get a later start than normal on Rummy though, as I volunteered to be net control for the Pacific Puddle Jump net. I'm a bit worried as we're surrounded by rain still, so my propogation may be awful, but we'll see how it goes. Anddd, literally as I type this, I hear some more rain starting to come down and Stuart starting to reef. So it goes! Cheers!