Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 23- The Human Gimbal

Time: 1700 Zulu (noon PV time)
Position: 19-deg 27-min N 149-deg 05-min W
Wind: NE 18-knots Seas: NE 7-ft
Avg. Course: 268 T Avg. Speed: 5.1-knots
Rig: 80% jib
24-hr distance traveled: 122-nm
Distance to Hilo: 339-nm

The winds have stayed consistently between 15 and 20-knots providing us with some quite large swells of 7-ft or so rolling into our stern quarter. Surf is often up for Tao, which is great for speed, but it does create some rolly conditions aboard. We luckily have a gimballed stove upon which we can leave things with a good probability that they won't move or spill. That is as long as they aren't top heavy or too full. These items have an even better probability of staying put if they're actually strapped down or being held with fiddles.

As humans we are also evolved to be able to compensate for this roll, though some of us are better at it than others. Grizzly, though obviously not human, deals with the roll best by making it look like she meant to do it whether it is sliding across the floor, missing the spot she was aiming for, or sticking her head into her feeding area and allowing her legs to gimbal with the roll. However, it is quite hilarious to watch Chris performing this gimballing function walking from the galley to the refrigerator with a bowl of hot cereal for breakfast in search of some cold milk to improve the texture. He multitasks first by timing opening the refrigerator to a back roll, quickly closing it again, then pouring the milk into the self-gimballed bowl and returning the milk to the fridge on yet another back roll. Finally, in the home stretch, he takes large wide stance steps all the while gimballing the now medium filled bowl back through the boat, up the ladder and out of the cabin into the cockpit where we've been eating most of our meals. This whole process is much improved when all four of our hands are involved.

Most of our meals, such as last nights dinner of Ginger squash puree over Whizzy rice (a la gourmet chef Lisa Whiznat, first saute onion and garlic then rice and finally add broth water and simmer), are made into "one pot" meals for ease of handling. We are grateful for the silicone grip at the bottom of our extra large bowls which helps them to stay put on the cockpit seats for precious seconds without being held. It is a game to guess when the roll of the boat with the weight of the food inside the bowl will be too much and will send the bowl sliding (often to be caught with our newly formed reflexes as we knew that we should never have let go of the bowl anyway).

The winds and waves have been up and we have been under the 80% alone (i.e. no sail changes!) all day. We're making fast enough speeds and are actually trying to slow our progress a bit in order to get into Hilo not on this Friday's holiday, but instead during daylight hours on Saturday. We spent most of yesterday afternoon on a port tack to stay south near the 19th parallel until we're closer to land. Once we are within a couple hundred miles of the island, the winds are forecast to turn more easterly (and even SE). So, the farther south we can stay now, the more down wind our course north to Hilo will be.

We have also been amazed to see birds nearly every day of this trip and often solitary. Unfortunately, we haven't a bird guide aboard. When we were at points furthest from shore we were seeing tiny black birds. Yesterday afternoon, we saw a medium sized white bird with a long thin tail (Jimmy, very reminiscent of ones we saw in the Galapagos, any ideas?). And this morning, we watched a medium sized black bird with white on the undersides of its wings fishing as it flew up and down between the crests of steepening waves during sun rise. Also, every once in a while we are still treated to seeing flying fish, sometimes pods of hundreds at once, launching themselves from one wave to the next. It seems they end up on our deck only when we sail more beam to the wind and taking waves over the bow as opposed to winds over our quarter. Yet another great reason to sail a downwind course whenever possible.


  1. sounds challenging! Can you station a video camera securely enough somewhere to keep a record of onboard gimballing efforts? Your laughter is echoing all the way to Ithaca.
    Much love, Mum

  2. woohoo! the long tailed bird is probably a Redbilled Tropicbird, like we saw in the Galapagos. Although he wonders if they go to Hawaii. Tern? But the other birds, Jimmy doesn't know. He's looking it up now in his book. Could be some kind of petrel or shearwater. he says. now you got him going.

    i laughed heartily at the image you painted of chris walking wide-stanced through the boat. and grizzly being all nonchalant. great imagery and details.

    you're flyin! can't wait to hear the relief and new set of impressions and reflections when you hit shore.

  3. I'm surprised you are pushing the arrival to Saturday. I would have been ready to touch land--for the sake of Grizzly. lol. :-) Would you be able to come on land without being noticed? We need to talk about how that works. Angie H