Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 8- Going with the flow and Riding squalls

Time: 2200 Zulu (noon Hawaii time)
Position: 09-deg 23-min S 161-deg 33-min W
Wind: ENE4-5 Seas: E 4-ft
Avg. Course: 204-deg T
Avg. Speed: 1.8-knots
Rig: poled out 80% and full mains'l
24-hr distance traveled: 43.2-nm
Distance to Suvarrov: 247-nm

Yesterday afternoon started out very, very calm. We sailed slowly and watched squall lines moving in their newly preferred direction, NE to SW. One that past overhead brought only a little wind and a cleansing of fresh water. As the sun reached the horizon, another blanket of weather was nearly upon us. Calm conditions, a setting sun, rain on the way created a beautiful double rainbow, colors popping against the white convection-created clouds. "Just like the moonbow, but in color," said Chris and Shawn was quick to wonder whether we should have learned something and needed to douse the mains'l. Having been watching it slowly move our way, Chris hesitated saying he didn't believe there would be much wind. So Shawn went about completing fresh limeade cocktails and quinoa-artichoke-olive dinner, and luckily, his intuition was right. After it past, we bobbed in no wind conditions, becalmed.

Decision point. Nearly 280-nm out, do we fire up Yannie and make tracks to where there is wind? More calculations- how many hours/miles of fuel can we spare? (Basic calculations are approximately 60-hrs with 5-gal back up which is approximately 300-nm in good conditions, though untested because we don't tend to choose the motor option often). Our most recent weather data forecast light and variable winds all Sunday (July 1st)- with a section very reminiscent of the forecast disturbance that kept us a few extra days in Fanning. Closer inspection of the southern hemisphere text report illuminated a "stationary front" running just above Suvarrov, with isolated thunderstorms within 120-nm, forecast for no change in 24-hr and dissipated in 48-hrs. This corresponded well with the GRIB files and our new understanding that light and variable GRIBS = unstable atmospheric conditions. Do we really want to motor toward a disturbance? There will not be good winds to sail on there and we will have to continue to motor or bob around amid thunderstorms. Should we anchor off Rakahanga, 80-nm away? Conservative sailors, we decided to collect some data- how fast will we move in the conditions we are in?

We pulled down the mains'l to stop its slapping, and poled out the jib to keep it's shape and allow it to utilize each breath of wind. And so we bobbed. At this point, it was dark. Chris crashed to grab some much-needed sleep and Shawn coaxed Moni to keep us pointed, if not actually moving, in the right general direction. It was quite disorienting- 100% cloud cover, waves sloshing around from no specifically organized direction, no consistent wind to give any clue which direction was what. The compass was a savior. Small differences in the cloud cover finally became noticeable. A hulking dark mass to our East, slowly, quietly, creeping toward us. With too much data for any decision to be obvious, between horizon scans, Shawn organized all the data onto a calendar to determine where we wanted to be in relation to the forecast Tstorms and when the winds were actually forecast to fill in again. Having a plan, she poked back up on deck and felt breeze on her neck. Almost enough for Moni to steer on his own, the squall was nearly upon us. Quickly the breeze filled in from the East, from no wind to 12-15-knots. It was a breathtaking surreal ride, for 20-minutes we flew along under 80% jib alone, in the leading edge of the squall. Shawn could see hard rain mere yards away. And then it enveloped us too, and filled our small underway jugs at the base of the mast funnel catchment (which works amazingly well with sideways rain). Huddled up in her rain jacket at the top of the ladder, watching the GPS numbers, speeds over 5-knots, peering out the dodger-eisen-glass, and feeling the motion of the boat. Shawn went back to readjust Moni several times to make the most of this gentle burst of wind and a half hour later, the ride was over, 10-nm farther along our track.

Chris' watch was more of the same. Long, intense lulls where skies cleared and stars shone, and then squall lines caught up and passed us by, each providing it's own individual ride. The recent squalls have been welcome, cooling us down and gently picking us up and giving us a lift. With the sun rise he was able to clearly see the thick layers of clouds forming the stationary front ahead. Slight ENE breezes filled in (as forecast), just barely enough for Moni to steer us with. A beautiful morning, we skimmed slowly over the surface, going with the flow. We may yet motor through some calms, but after shedding expectations of a fast arrival and getting use to the idea of slowing down and being out here an extra day or two, we are making the best and enjoying the surprisingly serene conditions.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds quite peaceful -- at times -- though I'm sure it's difficult to be as patient as is apparently wise . . . . Suvarrov is just a little bit ahead . . . . on the other side of the rainbow!

    Hugs and Purrs