Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 6- pleasant sailing and flying fish

Time: 1500 Zulu (noon PV time)
Position: 17-deg 50-min N 112-deg 44-min W
Wind: NNW 5-12-knots Seas: NW 1-2-ft
Course: 262 T Speed: 5.0-knots
Rig: full main, 100% jib
24-hr distance traveled: approx 105-nm

Dare we say that the last 24-hrs of sailing has indeed been pleasant?! It started out with us sailing under jib alone while we got ourselves re-acquainted with being underway. Chris made great contact with his dad on the HF radio and when Dave asked if there was anything we wanted looked up on the internet, Shawn replied "flying fish, please". Later that day, we downloaded e-mails and learned lots about these cool little fish. Apparently their large pectoral fins enable them to jump out of the water and glide distances up to a thousand feet to escape predators, which unfortunately backfires when they take flight to avoid a boat and either a boobie is waiting to catch them or they land out of water upon our deck. Maybe this is why boobies circle our boat all night- trying to find a perch to fish from. Good thing we got the wind indicator with a spike on top.

As we got further from the promontory effect of wind around Isla Soccoro, the winds diminished and we put up our main. Since then, we've been cruising along on a comfortable beam reach with winds cycling from 5 to 12 knots. This means sometimes enough for us to put in a reef or two and other times easing to shake all reefs and generally keeping us in the 4 to 5 knot range. The GRIB files predict these nice light winds in our area through this week and Don Andersen confirms that the models show solid and consistent 25-knots of ENE wind west of 125-deg longitude (approximately 700-nm from here). We shall see. The cloud cover continues to increase and we are grateful to still have a few openings for sun to shine through during the day and with the moon waning and more clouds, phosphorescence is transfixing at night.

With the calm conditions, Shawn has gotten excited about cooking again and made a wonderful creamy poblano chicken over rice (which we put an amazing Italian Parmesan on thanks Dream Keeper!) with a side of beet salad for dinner last night. Unfortunately, when she went to cook up potatoes and eggs for breakfast, the solanoid kept kicking the propane off. While Chris is currently investigating the problem and not worried in the slightest, Shawn is pushing away thoughts of having to cook without a stove for the next 30 days. We're both appreciative that the conditions are calm for this fix so we don't have the added difficulty of waves washing over the deck while we're working in the propane locker. While we were on deck working on it, a huge pod of dolphins visited us playing in our bow wave and echo-locating while we hung over the bow pulpit getting within feet of them. It is amazing to realize how much life there is in this not often visited ocean wilderness.


  1. beautiful- love that last sentence. "not often visited enough wilderness"-- POETIC

  2. Were you able to sail at all to windward, whilst under jib alone?

  3. Thanks for your question on our blog. We were on our crossing when you asked and I'm only just getting back to answering. It is an interesting question. The basic answer is that yes, we can sail amazingly well under jib alone, including upwind.

    We first ever used it to sail into our upwind slip in Berkeley, CA to have speed, but not too much as we are heavy and can have a good amount of momentum. While we were in Mexico we started trying it out for more maneuverability sailing onto and off of anchor (i.e. not having to deal with two sails and an anchor/chain). We found that with our boat (Nor'West 33) and our 100% jib, we have plenty of upwind capability and maneuverability. There are many anchorages in the Sea of Cortez that we entered and sailed all around looking for the best anchor spot, weaving through other boats along the way (and probably making them nervous as it doesn't seem that people sail onto and off of anchor too frequently let alone in tight anchorages).

    On our recent crossing we spent much time sailing under jib alone because with our main up when the winds reached a certain intensity (for us 20-25 knots with the seas we were experiencing) we tended to get weather helm which is difficult for our wind vane. For us the management required is not worth dealing with for the speed gained having the main up. We can also keep the forward sail area up in heavier weather downwind- though if we really need to work upwind, or heave to, we would put up our triple reefed main and downsize our forward sail area. We don't have as much data with our 80% jib alone, though it does still work (i.e. we can still tack with it) up to a certain amount of wind/waves. With the main down sailing downwind on our crossing we did experience less stability- in other words, more roll. Sailing under jib alone is more stable the more upwind we've used it. It should be noted that we are not racers, we tend to be in it for the long haul and therefore, are more interested in preserving our gear (i.e. reducing the wear and possible failure) than eeking out a little bit more speed. It's just a few more days... ;)

    Hope that helps in your research. As one of your other blog commenters mentioned, I'd say, just get out there and try it to see what your boat will and will not do with different sail configurations and wind/wave intensities.

    Happy Sails!