John Log 2 – Where on earth are we going?

Posted by John Newhoff on Friday, June 1st, 2007 at 4:40 am


I’d originally planned on sending out an email about this trip every few days, but its turned out to be difficult to work on the computer. For obvious reasons, I can’t really use it up in the cockpit. I’ve been drenched more than once by a stray wave in sailboat cockpits. In the cabin however, with the boat heeled over strongly or bouncing around from heavy seas, its very uncomfortable to do much of anything that requires concentration. A bit of seasickness lurks just around that corner.

On top of that, the satellite phone I’m trying to use for this purpose isn’t working as well as I’d hoped for sending email. Its very slow (think mid 80’s era modem speeds) and even a few spam messages clogs things up enough to make the $1.30/minute cost really start to climb. Add in a few dropped calls and I’m 3/4 of the way through my pre-purchased minutes in the first week.

Ok, enough complaining!

We’ve been at sea out of Bermuda eight days as of this writing. If you looked at our GPS track, you’d wonder where on earth we were going. We had to divert south for a low pressure area, and have ever since been working our way back north and east towards the Azores. Good winds have been elusive. The normal south westerly trade winds that make this the best time of year for sailing from Bermuda to the Azores have been interrupted by a series of unusual low pressure systems. As a result, we’ve been motoring from here to there to avoid bad weather and to look for wind. A partial result has been that almost all of our sailing has been close hauled, not the most comfortable point of sail. Right now, we’re motoring to get out of windless high pressure area to try and find some favorable south westerly winds on its northern margin.

We’ve settled into a reasonable pattern of watches. We’re doing two hours on, six hours off at night, and then just informally making sure someone’s in the cockpit during the day. We’re rotating the watches so that in a four day cycle, my watches are:
Day 1: 8:00pm to 10:00pm and 4:00am to 6:00am
Day 2: 10:00pm to 12:00am and 6:00am to 8:00am
Day 3.: 12:00am to 2:00am and 8:00am to 10:00am (or whenever someone else comes on deck)
Day 4: 2:00am to 4:00am

Last night the moons and clouds on my 8:00 to 10:00 watch were gorgeous. The moon was full and the clouds were making all kinds of interesting shapes. I listened to my iPod, enjoyed the moon, and decided what each of the clouds were shaped like.

The wildlife count hasn’t increased much. We see a lot of jellyfish, flying fish, and one species of bird, a Petrel I think (will have to look this up later).

The flying fish seem attracted to the boat for some reason, at least at night. We wake up every morning to usually find one to three have landed somewhere on the boat and died.

The Petrels (if that’s what they are) are fun to watch. They skim the water just inches above it, looking for food I presume. They swoop in and out of wave troughs, temporarily disappearing and then re-appearing. It always look like their wingtips are just about to touch the water. They must spend a huge part of their lives in the open ocean as we see them constantly even though we’re currently 500 miles from any land.

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