Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 7- Already Halfway!

Time: 0100 Zulu noon New Cal (Wed 7 Nov)
Position: 23*37'S 165*12'E
Wind: SE 16-19 Seas: SE 8-10-ft
Avg. Course: 256-deg T
Avg. Speed: 4.7-knots
Rig: storm jib and triple-reefed mains'l
24-hr Distance noon to noon point: 113-nm
Distance to Brisbane: 677-nm

It was fantastic to watch the stormy overcast conditions melt away behind us as Tao galloped for the blue skies ahead, then above, then around us yesterday afternoon. Both of us were a bit shell-shocked, exhausted and in need of some mellow recovery time as we continue to process our recent experiences. We each took a short 3-hr watch, Shawn checking in on the PacSea Net during what is normally Chris' watch and Chris uploading/downloading a bit later than normal to get us back to our "normal" watch schedules. A bit gun-shy (Shawn especially), we spent much longer under jib alone than necessary just to ensure a mellow ride through the heavier gusts and our daily mileage reflects that. Still, around midnight, we passed our halfway mileage of about 730-nm ahead and behind in this passage.

It turns out that we what we went through was the genesis of a Convergence/Squash Zone between the building Low and strong High (above 1030 hPa) which has now established and many boats underway to NZ are unfortunately currently experiencing similar conditions (though likely minus the lightning, traffic and land masses). We have made it to the High pressure = more stable weather. It is a large high, so winds are a bit stronger than we might choose, but they're from a favorable direction, so we'll take it any day over unstable weather associated with Lows. The large and not totally organized seas make horizon scans difficult, at times, unable to see any horizon at all from the troughs. In these higher winds we are searching for balanced sail combinations that still allow us to reef down in sudden increases. Winds have been gusty, in the lulls we could use a bit more sail area, but in the gusts we move along just fine with the storm jib and associated amount of mains'l. Tao was obviously made for this, she surges forward unperturbed as she if forced to rock one way and roll back the other in a graceful pattern as the waves roll under us. She, however, is a bit of a wet ride in these conditions. Foul weather gear is pretty much a necessity if you're going on deck. And our foulie gear is sadly decrepit. Shawn wears a pair of thin rain pants and jacket under hers to keep inner clothing dry and Chris just wears his board shorts and no socks expecting to be wet through by the end of the watch. It feels a bit like being bundled up in a snow suit, doubling the length of time necessary to visit the head. However threadbare, the foulies do still provide a bit of necessary warmth insulation with temperatures dropping as we head south and west.

We continue to work at keeping our speeds up but not overpowered and we steadily make way toward Brisbane. Continually scanning the horizon for signs of others- Chris and the AIS saw a cargo ship pass in the dark of this morning and we have both been entertained by flocks of birds masterfully gliding, fishing, and maneuvering in the wind around the peaks and troughs of the ocean waves. There are many moments in this world of constant motion where we feel at peace, in tune, connected with nature as we take a smooth ride amidst the roll, back in the groove.

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